Magazine article Screen International

'Ilo Ilo' Director Anthony Chen Talks Asian Film Academy and Challenges

Magazine article Screen International

'Ilo Ilo' Director Anthony Chen Talks Asian Film Academy and Challenges

Article excerpt

This is his second time at Busan, his first visit having been when his Cannes Camera d'or winner Ilo Ilo played in 2013. He also had a short film, Ah Ma (Grandma), screen at Busan in 2007.

The 11th AFA has Chinese filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai as dean, Korean filmmaker and director of Busan Film Commission Oh Seok-geun as deputy dean and Polish cinematographer Jerzy Zielinski as cinematography mentor.

They are mentoring 24 fellows from 13 countries who have been in Busan since Sept 24 and who will produce and present two short films at the end of the festival.

How's AFA going? What have you done so far?

It's going well - I do enjoy working with young filmmakers. It's so odd to call them young filmmakers because I'm quite young myself - probably just a couple years older. It's great to have passionate people in a room wanting to make cinema.

I've done a few consultations for two teams on scripts, execution, storyboards for their shorts, and I've done two directing passes with them.

Now they are in full shooting mode. They are not having a lot of sleep, having meetings until 1AM... It's good to see they are working hard.

I've mentored students before on some short projects in Singapore, and I've done masterclasses, panels and sessions at different festivals around the world, but not in such a way. This is the first time I've done this for such a long time - 18 to 19 days, brought here and working with young filmmakers with a specific goal of making shorts.

Your production company Giraffe Pictures has its first film, the omnibus Distance set to open the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. Can you talk a bit about what's going on with the company and your next projects?

We are world premiering there and really happy about the news. I can't wait to share the film with audiences in Taiwan and hopefully subsequently all over the world. This is a passion project of mine, directed by three very talented young filmmakers from Thailand, Singapore and China - Sivaroj Konsakul, Tan Shijie and Xin Yukun.

I'm very excited about Kirsten Tan's first feature, Popeye. It's about a middle-aged man in crisis with an elephant on a road trip across Thailand. I've never filmed an elephant before. And in this film, every scene has a huge elephant. We haven't finalized yet, but we have a good script and a talented director, and should start shooting in Thailand in the first quarter [of next year].

Then we are also actively developing Tan Shijie's untitled debut feature. I think it's a strong story, a special story, but not ready to share it yet. I think he's one of the most promising young filmmakers I've seen in our region for a long time.

What about your own directorial projects?

I'm working on a few things. My company is based in Singapore but I myself live in London with my wife. I have two UK projects that are in development with Film Four and we're going through drafts of the scripts.

I'm also writing another feature I'm hoping to shoot back home in Singapore, maybe next year, produced by Giraffe Pictures. I can't say much but it's a female driven film. I've been told by many people that I'm good at crafting female characters, like the maid in Ilo Ilo. Also that I'm also good with children. I tend to have women and children even in my short films.

It's been two years now since Ilo Ilo premiered in Cannes and my hands and feet and whole body are itching to make a film, which is why it's great for me to be involved in something like AFA and Distance - I love going on set, being fired up by the whole process. …

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