Arts Film

Film Fanatic: Eight local filmmakers selected as winners of Singapore’s 4th Viddsee Juree Awards

Two Singaporean short films highlighting the dark underbelly of society, “Booking” and “Dark Light”, took home the Gold and Silver Awards respectively at the Viddsee Juree Awards Singapore 2021, an annual storytelling award celebrating some of the best short films from Singapore. Five other short films showcasing how everyday technology plays a role in shaping and influencing Singaporeans in their key life moment won the LifeSG Awards, a new category created in partnership with the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

This year’s Gold Award winner, “Booking” by Haziq Adam De Silva, is the second win for the film in an awards. The film tells the story of two protagonists trying to make ends meet during the pandemic. Hoon, a taxi driver, operates a mobile brothel with Xiao Yan, a young prostitute, all in the effort to provide a better life for their families.

Haziq, 20, is the youngest winner to win Gold at the Juree Awards Singapore, recently completed his diploma in Digital Film and Television at Temasek Polytechnic. “I am thankful and overjoyed to receive this award. With it being my final project in my polytechnic education, it was a fruitful experience working with talented teammates and casts and the film was made possible with all their effort and hard work,” said Haziq. In making this film, he adds, “Everyone is affected by the pandemic; while some may be fortunate enough to carry on their lives as usual, others struggle to live by the day. It is an honour to be able to share this story as the film holds the significant values of family and sacrifice, as we learn to be grateful for what we have.”

“Dark Light”, a film by Vikneshwaran Silva won the Silver Award, features Mari, a construction worker from India, based in Singapore who seeks companionship on his day off, but gets into a misadventure that he will never forget. The Audience Choice Award, “Skeletons In The Closet” by Brendan Kor won with 313 out of over 2,500 votes received from the public for this edition of the awards. The film tells the story of a university freshman, embarking on an obsessive journey to unravel the truth behind his roommate’s sexuality after an intimate encounter in a closet. 

The winners were picked by the judging panel composed of Samuel Jamier, Executive Director of the New York Asian Film Festival; award-winning Singaporean filmmaker Li Lin Wee; and Takashi Homma, Managing Director of Sapporo International Short Film Festival & Market. The five LifeSG Award winners were selected by a panel including award-winning Singaporean filmmaker and producer, Kenny Tan from Viddsee Studios; and two representatives from GovTech.

“We were impressed by the diverse and fresh styles of storytelling from many young filmmakers who submitted their entries. The filmmaking scene in Singapore is very promising with the showcase of creativity and talent, combined with passion, seen in this year’s Juree Awards,” said Takashi Homma.  Li Lin Wee added, “In selecting the winners, we looked for films that show characters and stories that are relatable, and also, revolutionary in some way. The authenticity of the film, together with visual immersion and cohesiveness, helps immerse the audience in the world that the filmmaker is trying to paint.”

On the selection of the winning films, “The gripping narrative and production quality of the Gold Award winner, “Booking”, was cinematically the most outstanding achievement of the lot. “Dark Light” came across to us as a strikingly engaging piece of film with a singularly compelling performance from its South Asian protagonist,” commented Samuel Jamier.

In the LifeSG Awards category, the five films selected for the win are: “Death Do Us Part” by Caleb Wong, “Old Hands” by Nelson Lim, “Peng You” by Jia Hui Chew and Pei Fang Goh, “Taragak” by Suffian Zain, and “Missed Calls” a double-win by Felicia Cheng, who also received the Special Mention Award for her film about a student who struggles to overcome the loss of her grandfather and is stuck at home with her estranged mother during the Circuit Breaker.

“We have seen some amazing submissions and we are heartened to receive such a positive response for the inaugural LifeSG Awards category. The winning films featured relatable and authentic stories that reflected our different life moments and it’s interesting to see how technology is intricately interwoven into our daily lives. It is a good reminder for us to develop even more useful and relevant features for each of these moments and make Singaporeans’ interaction with the government simpler and easier. Hopefully, everyone can get the help that they need, when they need them, whichever life moment they are at”, said Mr Dominic Chan, Director, GovTech.

The awards ceremony was held virtually, live on Viddsee’s Facebook on October 22. The Gold winner was awarded the Filmmaker Gold Kit, which includes an Apple iPad, a Gold Plaque, Gold winner’s e-certificate, Viddsee merchandise, and a Smartphone Hero Prize Kit. The Silver winner took home the H1n Zoom mic, a Silver Plaque, Silver winner’s e-certificate, Viddsee merchandise, and a Smartphone Hero Prize Kit. Both the Gold and Silver Awards prizes are sponsored by the Motion Picture Association (MPA). The five inaugural recipients of the LifeSG Award were awarded with S$5,000 cash, an Award plaque and a winner’s certificate.

Leading up to the awards, Viddsee also organised a Social Cinema live premiere, featuring the 15 shortlisted films, inspiring webinars with filmmakers and an ongoing vertical film challenge on TikTok for horror films aligning with the Halloween festivities in the exploration of vertical content category for 2022’s Juree Awards.

Learn more about the Juree Singapore Awards Programme here

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