The 7th National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) has announced 56 films that showcase a new wave of filmmakers for Singapore’s film industry. Held by *SCAPE, an organisation that supports the development of Singaporean youths, the platform saw a total of 330 submissions this year.
The most prominent themes this year were mental health, self-discovery, as well as the importance of human connection as we battle through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the nominated films were also filmed during the Circuit Breaker to showcase how Singaporeans are powering through the unforeseen challenges posed.
One film that showcased the different sides of how Singaporeans battled the Circuit Breaker period is “A Little Closer” by Cheryl Mong from the Student category. The film revolves around Ashwin, a young Indian man, who works as a Stay-Home Caller during the pandemic. While working from home, he forms an unlikely friendship with a Chinese elderly lady who helps him discover the importance of tradition and family. The pre-selection jury praised how relevant the storyline is today – especially the discussion on how Singaporeans are adapting to the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, “The Cup” by Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen from the Open Youth category, was highly regarded by the jurors for how the filmmaker took a risk to showcase a different style of storytelling. The film is about a man with a brewing machine as his head and how he attempts to improve the bland flavour of his own body. The film uses surrealism to showcase the uncertainty and lack of joy Singaporeans felt during the pandemic. The entire film was shot and produced during the Circuit Breaker, while the filmmakers were confined at home.
“In the first half of 2020, we observed how the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns affected so many of us around the world, both individually and collectively,” said Mark Chua. “We were struck by how there was a tangle between the kind of living we wanted and the lived experience of the lockdown. So we wanted to make a film that offered a humorous take on that and ask why there was this dissatisfaction and seeming flattening out of life. With the limitations posed, we had to get creative to execute some of practical effects.”
“2021 was as challenging as we expected it to be, but our youth filmmakers well exceeded our expectations,” said Ivy Lim, Executive Director of *SCAPE. “Even though the youths faced an uphill battle to complete their films during these uncertain times, the 330 NYFA 2021 submissions proved otherwise. As a youth organisation, we are proud of our youths who demonstrated resilience in pursuing their passion despite the limitations presented.”
The pre-selection jurors shared similar sentiments. Many highlighted how this year’s submissions included films that are award-worthy. “Overall, I was very impressed with the diversity and quality of the submissions – from the acting to the scripts and the production values,” said International Emmys nominee and this year’s pre-selection juror of Open Youth category, Jaclyn Chan.
“The nominations were shorts I connected with on a very visceral level. There were times where I was so drawn into a film that I forgot I was watching it as a juror.”– Pre-selection juror of Open Youth category, Jaclyn Chan
Vietnamese filmmaker and pre-selection juror of Student category, Linh Duong, shared that she was surprised by the production level of the submissions. “I could see the amount of dedication that the students put into their works, as well as the efforts to search for new storytelling language. Watching these films made me look forward to seeing how these students will evolve in the future. I’m positive we are blessed with a new wave of talented and responsible filmmakers.”
NYFA will be hosting a closed-door screening of the nominated films for the nominees and media in early July. The winners will be announced during a live online award ceremony on 24th July 2021.
For more information on the National Youth Film Awards, visit their website here