Monday, December 2, 2013

The movie "Iloilo" opens in Manila on Wednesday, after winning the Camera D'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

With "Iloilo" director Anthony Chen, Singapore Ambassador VP Hirubalan,
and Singapore Tourism Board Director Sherina Chan

In Manila tonight, living a Travelife, I joined Singapore Ambassador and Madame VP Hirubalan and the officials of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for a delicious Chinese dinner before the premiere of the movie "Iloilo."

This movie was written and directed by a 29-year-old Singaporean about the relationship between a Philippine maid in Singapore and a Singaporean family.

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MEETING DIRECTOR ANTHONY CHEN

We sat with Anthony Chen, the film's very talented and young director, who enrolled in Singapore's prestigious Ngee An Polytechnic School of Film and Media Studies at the age of 17, to pursue his passion for filmmaking.

After dinner, we all went to a small and very private cinema in Resorts World to watch the film.

I'd never been to this private cinema before, but it's pretty luxurious and incredibly comfortable. I think it only seats around 25 people, and it's only 2 chairs per column.

With Mr. Frank Chng, CEO of Canon Philippines

SHOT 100% IN SINGAPORE

The movie "Iloilo" did not have a single scene shot in the Philippines.

The entire film was shot in Singapore, and most of the story revolves around the home of an ordinary Singaporean family with extraordinary problems, and the impact that a Philippine maid with her own set of problems has on this family.

It's largely a positive impact, by the way, and the Philippine maid comes across as very human but also a hero.


SO FAR, IT'S WON SO MANY AWARDS

This film, which will open to the general public on Wednesday, has already won a slew of awards worldwide.

It just won the Camera D'Or Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and it was the Singaporean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

"Iloilo" also won the Sutherland Prize for Best First Film at the BFI London Festival and Best Narrative Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival.




ALL ABOUT HUMAN NATURE

It's a deeply engrossing film that shows human nature with all its frailties, and in a microscopic way that draws you in.

In a nutshell, a Filipina named Terry (played by Angeli Bayani) begins working for a typical family living in a tenement housing in Singapore.

It's not a very comfortable life for everyone, and it's made even more difficult by the inherent problems of the 10-year-old son, the pregnancy of the wife, and the loss of a job of the father.



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BASED ON REAL EXPERIENCES

This is actually based on the real experience of Anthony himself, and his memories of the Philippine maid who raised him as a child.

He said: "When I was much younger, my mother hired a Filipino maid to look after the children. Teresa was with us for a long eight years until I was 12 years old. We called her Auntie Terry."

He added: "When she left to return home, it was hard to bear, but we got used to her absence and somehow lost contact. The one thing that has stayed with me after all these years is the name of the place she was from, Iloilo, a province in the Philippines. That is how the title of the film came about."

Dinner tonight with "Iloilo" director Anthony Chen

GREAT ACTING

The casting of this film, too, is excellent.

Every single character is played out very well, and Angeli Bayani does the Philippines proud in coming across as 100% genuine.

CELEBRATING HANNUKAH



After the film, I rushed across Makati to the residence of the Israeli Ambassador, H.E. Menash Bar-On, to join in the Hannukah celebrations.

As always, Madame Eti Bar-On prepared a most sumptuous feast of Israeli delights, making for a very special evening.

More on this tomorrow, as I recount part two of just another wonderful evening in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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