Film News Singapore

Film Fanatic: Live action films sweeps majority of awards at 8th National Youth Film Awards

The 8th National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) has announced its winners in a physical awards ceremony held at *SCAPE The Ground Theatre. This year, live action films emerged as top favourites, winning big across both the Student and Open Youth categories. Notable films include “Dirty Laundry” by Kyaw Shoon Le Yee, “A Man Trembles” by Judith Tong, and “Sweat” by Elizabeth Xu. Young actors below 13 years old were also recognised in this year’s NYFA, sweeping the “Best Performance” awards in both categories. 

Organised by *SCAPE, an organisation that supports the development of Singaporean youth, this year’s NYFA saw a total of 321 submissions with 25 awards conferred including “Best Director”, “Best Cinematography” and “Best Screenplay”.

“Since 2015, the National Youth Film Awards has supported our youths to find their unique voice through filmmaking, and served as a springboard for our young filmmakers into the global industry. The films recognised today demonstrate what our youths are capable of and I’m glad that *SCAPE continues to empower our budding filmmakers to pursue their dreams,” said Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Trade and Industry.

NYFA also presented its fourth Youth Inspiration Award to Jerrold Chong, local director, animator, and co-founder of homegrown animation studio Finding Pictures, in recognition of his remarkable contributions as a youth filmmaker towards the local filmmaking industry.

Nominated and selected by a discerning jury made up of award-winning filmmakers and industry professionals, the annual Youth Inspiration Award honours a young filmmaker who has made exemplary contributions towards the industry in Singapore, in terms of both their works and dedication in advancing the next generation of film professionals. This year’s recipient, Jerrold Chong, embodies both critical aspects.

As co-founder of Finding Pictures, Jerrold is at the heart of producing internationally recognised films that are putting Singapore on the filmmaking map, while nurturing the next generation of rising animation filmmakers under his wing. At the same time, he is serving as Programme Director for Cartoons Underground – Singapore’s very own independent animation festival – that aims to grow and foster a tight-knit local animation community. With a heart to cultivate young animation filmmakers, Jerrold also conceptualised the Animated Visions Story Development Lab in 2020, a mentorship programme that guides participants to develop their animated film under award-winning directors.

“I’m grateful for the role that National Youth Film Awards (NFYA) has played in my filmmaking journey, as well as the journeys of so many other young filmmakers. It’s been a platform where I had the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admire, future collaborators and new friends within the filmmaking community. I am humbled by this recognition and I trust that platforms like NYFA will continue nurturing a new generation of creative talents, artists and storytellers. I believe that the future of Singapore’s film and animation industry is bright and that we will continue striving towards telling our own stories and having an emotional impact around the world!” said Jerrold Chong, NYFA Youth Inspiration Award 2022 Recipient.

Topics such as societal pressures, bereavement and poverty took prominence in this year’s winning films, as youth deepened their exploration of various social issues.

“Dirty Laundry” expertly tackled the topic of societal expectations of women, centred around the notion where women’s clothes are considered as unclean. Directed by Kyaw Shoon Le Yee and produced by Linnet Ong, this simple yet well-shot film brought home “Best Director”, “Best Screenplay” and “Best Live Action”, sealing its standing as the most-awarded film for NYFA 2022.

In another film focused on familial ties, “Ant Nest” explored the psyche of a rebellious tween in hopes of gaining her parents’ attention. Written and directed by Eliza Goh with music produced by Sandra Sek, the film clinched “Best Original Music”. Hailey Madison, who played the female protagonist, Charlotte, was also recognised with a “Best Performance” award.

Both “Best Documentary” and “Best Animation” awards went to films that delved into concepts about religion. The works – “Pin” and “话说浑沌; The Story of Chaos” – directed by Shelby Kho and Quek Yu Qing respectively, approached the topic through vastly different lenses, reflecting the contemporary way in which religion is viewed in modern society.

This year, “大鸟 (The Giant Bird)”, a film submitted under the Student category also bagged the “Most Promising” award, a new recognition as part of this year’s NYFA. Directed by Pan Wenbo, this film draws parallels between the SARS outbreak of 2002 and the Covid-19 pandemic two decades later, and is telling of the rising talent amongst youth filmmakers in Singapore.

“This marks the 8th edition of NYFA and over the eight years, we’ve seen an increase in the popularity and visibility of the aspiring filmmakers’ works. We hope to further extend the opportunity to amplify their voices and work towards a more diverse and inclusive film industry. Sharing their stories and experiences is a way to advance NYFA’s mission to mentor and prepare aspiring filmmakers to work in the film industry; and we believe this year’s theme – “Infinity” – is a reflection of *SCAPE’s commitment to providing the relevant tools and opening new doors for these filmmakers in Singapore,” said Ivy Lim, Executive Director of *SCAPE.

Adding another “Best Director” award to his cap is Vikneshwaran Silva of “Altar”, a returning filmmaker who won “Best Director” and “Best Cinematography” for his film “Dark Light” last year. Continuing with his signature of spotlighting the destitute side of Singapore, “Altar” follows an aged and ill security officer whose daily routine consists of him ranting about his financial struggles to a deity. Told through the eyes of “God”, this poignant film is telling of the challenges faced by the underprivileged in Singapore.

“A Man Trembles” gives viewers a taste of local sci-fi-horror mix with this film that follows a Singaporean family who has opted to surrender their lives amid the struggles faced during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis. This live action work showcases them spending their final day on Earth on Sentosa Island and gives insight into the trials faced by middle-class locals. Produced by Judith Tong with sound design by Cheng Lijie, “A Man Trembles” clinched awards of “Best Live Action” and “Best Sound Design”.

“Best Documentary” was awarded to “SMRT Piece” directed and produced by Charlotte Hong. With its quirky approach of filming and overlays of the protagonist’s sketches, the film also took home “Best Editing”. Commended by the jury as thoughtful and vibrant, this film was recognised for its powerful illumination of the human experience and offering a keen perspective on queerness in Singapore.

For the Open Youth category, Elizabeth Xu’s “Sweat” takes on a stop motion film about feminine care, presenting an immersive world in fine detail as praised by the jury. Despite being only slightly longer than two minutes, the compelling animation film bagged dual awards of “Best Animation” and “Best Art Direction”.

Alumni of this year’s NYFA will be invited to pitch for the Film Facilitation Programme, an extension of NYFA that is organised by *SCAPE and conceptualised by Huang Junxiang, NYFA 2020’s Youth Inspiration Award recipient.

This nine-month programme is a holistic end-to-end mentorship initiative that provides a seed funding of $10,000 for the NYFA alumni and one-on-one guidance with acclaimed mentors, complete with distribution and marketing channels. Upon completion, the films will be made available for streaming via The Project Plus, a movie on demand platform.

This programme aims to further support young local filmmakers, foster a tight-knit community in the industry, and connect youths with the industry through close guidance from mentors. This year, mentees choose from six genres to focus their short films on – horror, drama, action, comedy, animation, and documentary.

Winners of NYFA 2022 will also walk away with cash and prizes worth up to a total of S$70,000, including S$1,000 cash each.

The NYFA Awards Ceremony 2022 was held at *SCAPE on 19th August. More details found here.

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