After 5 arduous weeks of congregating at NTU and *SCAPE at 10am to watch the South East Asian short films and learn from our brilliant speakers, the final session culminated in the decision for the Youth Jury Prize. Initially, rumours of hostile debates and flying chairs during last year’s discussion (stated by Chrys) left me in apprehension. Nonetheless, we had the honour of Dr. Victor Fan as a mentor to facilitate the two hours of a somewhat diplomatic and carefully deliberated process of choosing the Youth Jury Prize winner.
The selection process began by going through each one of the 16 film choices with members of the jury discussing and analysing them. As most of us had our own individual films that we thought should win, we had to defend and expound on the reasons why a particular film should be considered for the Youth Jury Prize. Certainly, the winning film had to fulfil the judging criteria stipulated by the programmers. The prize was to be awarded to a film that provided a novel perspective of South East Asia while pushing the boundaries of thematic, cultural and technical boundaries of filmmaking. Furthermore, it had to contain a fully developed concept within its genre, which engaged the audiences’ emotions, portraying a clear vision of the director.
Amidst the intense and fervent battles between the Youth Jury members, Dr. Fan attempted to calm the situation with his pensive and impartial opinion on the considerations of a winning film. He asserted that as jurors, we must set aside certain biasness and personal favouritisms and instead view each film from an objective perspective. The limitation of a short film is that the narrative is confined to about 25 minutes, making it difficult for directors to showcase their full potential. Thus, we have to see beyond the projected film and discern the intentions and heart of a director. Taking what he had said into mind, the voting process ensued.
Each of the Jury members had one vote and we wrote down our choice of film on a post-it note. Chrys then collected and placed them in a cup, eventually picking them out one by one, announcing the film titles (much like ‘Survivor’). It was an incredibly exhilarating procedure as each disclosure of a person’s choice met with divided responses of either approval or dissent. Eventually, set with the premise of a democratic system, the outcome of Hilom winning the Youth Jury Prize was due to the majority of jurors who voted for it.
In retrospect, the Youth Jury and Critics Programme has been an enriching and enjoyable experience for me. Over the past 5 weeks, we had the privilege of professors and pundits in the film industry and related areas to educate us about film. From the socio-political context of films, to historiography and culture, the seminars have been extremely insightful. Thus, I believe that with their expertise and guidance, our discussion of films was not a baseless one.
On a different note, friendships were forged amongst the youth jurors and it was heartening to see so many film enthusiasts sharing their passion and experience. I’ve learnt so much from them being the one with probably the least experience in film. I felt really privileged to be able to watch the screenings of the South East Asian Shorts with a motley crew of such talented youth jurors.
The Silver Screen Awards was probably the event that all of us were geared up for since the start of the programme. On the night itself, I was so excited to see both international and local film celebrities at the award ceremony and it was such an honour for us to be in the same premise as them. Undisputedly, the highlight of the night was the After Party where we could mingle with the distinguished directors and actors with the continual stream of alcoholic drinks and delectable cuisine. Clearly, some of us were fan-girling over the celebrities and begged them for pictures and they so humbly agreed.
All in all, the Youth Jury & Critics Programme was truly a marvellous experience that served as a platform to educate and nurture the next generation of film zealots and critics. Guided by experts in the industry, I believe all of us have honed our critical writing skills and developed new perspectives of film. Interacting with the directors of the South East Asian Short Film Competition was also a humbling opportunity for us to learn more about the process of film making. As the Youth Jury Team of 2016 ends our remarkable journey albeit filled with occasional debates, we hope that the next panel of film jurors will participate in and enjoy the Youth Jury & Critics programme as much as we did! J