A culmination of screenings and programmes held over the past twelve days, the Silver Screen Awards which took place at Marina Bay Sands’ Grand Theatre was certainly a splendid affair. Apart from free-flow libations – which many of us appreciated – this event also gave us many chances to rub shoulders with fresh-faced as well as seasoned actors, directors and producers. The presentation ceremony itself was, surprisingly, much more enjoyable than I expected: I was rocked by nervousness, joy and surprise as the awardees were gradually revealed.
You might have seen the list of prize-winners on our social media updates (if you haven’t, do scroll through our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook posts for a look!); the category that I felt most invested in was, naturally, the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Awards, whose participating films had all been watched and written about by us. It was exciting as well to find out how our final decision on the Youth Jury Prize and opinions on the films stood against judgements made by the jury panel – which consisted of Mira Lesmana, Anderson Le and Bertrand Lee.
The Best Singapore Short Film – the first award within this category for the night – went to Chiang Wei Liang’s Anchorage Prohibited, a quiet and dread-infused examination of the lives of two Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan.
Following that, it was the Youth Jury Prize! Priscilla and Alex, dressed to the nines in monochrome, went up stage to announce our chosen film: P.R. Patindol’s Hilom. As his name was announced, Patindol walked up stage in stunned disbelief to receive his prize – despite any earlier reservations that we had during our arduous and drawn-out voting processes, this was the moment when we were celebrating and cheering all-out for Hilom.
The win of Liao Jiekai’s The Mist for Best Director came unexpected for many of us, for our own shortlist for the Youth Jury Prize had not given much consideration to this film. Such a surprise result made me want to re-watch this short film again in order to discover for myself what the jury panel had seen in it.
Special Mention went to Bayu Prihantoro Filemon’s On the Origin of Fear – this was, perhaps, the award reveal that brought out the most enraptured reaction from the Youth Jury. Bayu’s film was one that we all enjoyed and admired very much for its unique and intriguing depiction of a crucial part of Indonesia’s history.
Last but not least, there was the Best Southeast Asian Short Film. This was awarded to Wregas Bhanuteja’s In the Year of Monkey, a provocative portrayal of sacrifice that an individual is willing to make for their family.
In total, thirteen awards were presented during the ceremony by honoured guests such as Royston Tan, Anurag Kashyap, Naomi Kawase, and the SGIFF chairman Mike Wiluan himself, among others. Aside from this, another highlight of the Silver Screen Awards for me was the post-ceremony reception, where the atmosphere was much lighter and easy-going than before the presentations began. It was during this session that we finally had an opportunity to speak to Patindol, whom we had not managed to meet beforehand. In our conversations, I learnt that Hilom was inspired by its director’s own childhood experience, and I got to know about some difficulties he faced while working with his juvenile cast – such as having to work around their tendency to fall asleep easily.
While the Silver Screen Awards may appear on its surface to be mainly a ceremonious event, experiencing it for myself made me realise that it is much more than that. While it is, indeed, a celebration of Asian and Southeast Asian cinema that gives nods to both emerging and dedicated contributors, the ceremony – and SGIFF itself – is an annual reunion gathering of people full of passion and love for what they do.