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Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) supports the vibrant tapestry of Southeast Asian Cinema through its Film Fund Recipients.

SINGAPORE, JULY 10 2023 – The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) reveals its list of eight selected documentaries and short films from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore to receive grants from the SGIFF Film Fund in recognition of their potential to contribute to the development of Southeast Asian cinema through their distinctive narratives and perspectives. The SGIFF Film Fund comprises the Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC) and SGIFF Southeast Asian Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS) that aim to champion Southeast Asian works, supporting independent cinema and serve as a Kickstarter to propel independent filmmakers forward.

The Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC)

Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC) is part of the SGIFF Film Fund, which grants four mid-length or feature documentaries in various stages of production and post-production annually. This year, the selection committee has chosen three production projects that will each receive S$30,000 in cash. One post-production project will also receive a grant of S$20,000. With the Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC), the Tan Ean Kiam Foundation hopes to support Southeast Asian documentary filmmakers to continue capturing stories that are unique to the region.

“Documentary filmmaking unveils truths, bridges generations, and shapes our collective consciousness. Through its lens, we confront the shadows of our existence while rewriting our narrative and illuminating a path toward a better tomorrow. With this grant, we hope to empower filmmakers to craft stories that echo the pulse of society, igniting conversations that will transform and inspire change.” said Tan Keng Leck, Vice Chairman of the Tan Ean Kiam Foundation.

Remarkable stories have been selected for this edition of the SEA-DOC grant, which includes documentaries on anti-communist propaganda, the preservation of precious untold histories, a usual family reunion with an unusual plot twist, and the sensitivities of discrimination in a conservative society, this year’s winners are a reflection of the depth and diversity of talent here in Southeast Asia.

The selection committee received almost 68 submissions and commended the four projects for handling their stories with creativity and craft.

Top Left - Bottom Right: Ukrit Sa-nguanhai (Thailand), Joanne Cesario (Philippines), Nong Nhat Quang (Vietnam), and Tonny Trimarsanto (Indonesia)

This year, the grants are awarded to:

The Itinerant by Ukrit Sa-nguanhai, Thailand

1966, in the middle of a long trip for an anti-communist itinerant film screening in rural Thailand. The itinerant film troupe finds a mutilated dead body in the Mekong River that resembles a dead body found in the present day but has gone missing.

The selection committee cited, “During the Cold War, USIS propaganda films were screened in northeastern Thailand as an attempt to influence and control the consciousness of rural villagers by blurring the lines between fiction and reality. The Itinerant revisits these past realities through fictionalised recreations, interviews, and storytelling, bringing to light forgotten histories that were once thought to be mere fiction. Ukrit Sa-nguanhai’s experimental methods and clear documentary style inspire confidence that the film’s research will be compelling and textured.”

Invisible Labour by Joanne Cesario, Philippines

The return of the Marcos family to the presidential palace amid the economic crisis, the documentary looks at the importance of preserving the history of massive labour struggles that fought for democratic rights and led to the downfall of Martial Law and its continuing relevance to the present struggle of Filipino workers.

The selection committee cited, “Empowering and complexly layered, Invisible Labor reflects on the Philippines’ recent and politically unstable past, reclaiming a version of history that is actively being erased. The titular ‘Labour’ refers to that Carlito Piedad, a janitor whose singular efforts led to the preservation of an audiovisual collection of people’s resistance during the period of Martial Law under Ferdinand Marcos. Joanne Cesario keenly positions film as a collective tool and a tool for collectivity by drawing attention to the potential and necessity of archiving as resistance.”

Baby Jackfruit Baby Guava by Nong Nhat Quang from (Vietnam)

When an unplanned baby enters the lives of a conservative mother, mentally ill daughter, and detached gay son, the dysfunctional trio travels back in time through their diaries to mend ruptured bonds, rewrite memories, and prepare for a new cycle of motherhood. A creative documentary exploring the cycle of motherhood, plotted by the present with stories and sounds of the past.

The selection committee cited, “Baby Jackfruit Baby Guava commands an intimate glimpse into familial dysfunction. Nong Nhat Quang delves deep within the loving yet complicated parent-child relationships infused with patriarchal customs by reflecting on generational trauma and queer discrimination. Nong definitively represents a new wave of young Vietnamese filmmakers who are unafraid of introspection. Courageously, he peers into his personal history, bringing a new hope of solidifying a stronger future, reclaiming the narrative for himself and his family.”

Under the Moonlight by Tonny Trimarsanto from (Indonesia)

Nur (40 years old) is a transgender who works as a cook in an Islamic School Al Fatah in Kota Gede, Yogyakarta. This school is a bit unique as all the students are Transgenders.

The selection committee cited, “Through its sensitive and observational style, Under the Moonlight addresses a politically urgent topic – the discrimination suffered by the LGBTQ+ community under religious conservatism in Indonesia. Focusing on an Islamic school in Yogyakarta, where every student is transgender, the search for true acceptance begins. Under the Moonlight is exemplary in its empathetic perspective. Tonny Trimarsanto demonstrates a considered and respectful approach to the subjects, earning their trust and allowing all audiences to connect to their individual stories and lives.”

SGIFF Southeast Asian Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS)

Supported by C47 Investment and White Light Post, the SGIFF Southeast Asian Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS) is awarded to four short films this year. Each recipient will receive a cash grant of S$4,000 from C47 Investment, and post-production support worth S$4,000 from White Light Post.

The selection committee received almost 265 entries. Selecting stories ranging from an enigmatic scene that unfolds deep within a lush tropical jungle, to a gripping parasitic odyssey, to a tender story of growing pains and finally an unexpected meeting that threads myth with new realities, these stories all aim to enthral and captivate as a collection of diverse and intriguing films from Southeast Asia.

Top Left - Bottom Right: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan (Philippines), Chonchanok Thanatteepwong (Thailand), Giselle Lin (Singapore), Taufiqurrahman Kifu (Indonesia)

This year, the SEA-SHORTS grants are awarded to:

Vox Humana by Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan from the Philippines

In the middle of a tropical jungle, a dreary sight unfolds: in a state of limbo and uncertainty tend to their gear, amuse themselves with twigs, and engage in a surreal exchange of animal sounds towards each other - lost in translation as they crawl and claw at each other.

The selection committee cited, “The emotional weight of Indigenous presence on the Philippine Islands is meticulously composed in Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan’s latest imagination, where visual styles rarely used in framing Indigenous bodies are employed as an expression of resistance. Complex themes of modernity, authority, and ecological collapse, lodged within the story dynamics of a jaded zoologist and a Feral Man accused of murders, unravels patiently in the hands of an ingenious filmmaker brimming with compassion.”

Termite Life by Chonchanok Thanatteepwong from Thailand

An island woman comes to a town, full of mayflies to meet old friends in the rainy season, starting to cross between the dream and the reality.

The selection committee cited, “By invoking the corporeal horrors of a mayfly’s mutation into its termite form, Chonchanok Thanatteepwong dreams up a dreadful scenario where an island woman experiences spiritual and physical intrusions during a visit to the city. Termite Life's sensual yet grotesque bodily detail lingers across metaphysical planes of consciousness to arouse an overwhelming atmosphere of mystique and dissonance. The promise of an assured sensorial treatment and its allegorical provocations of a parasitic urban world makes Chonchanok’s latest project a palpable prospect to behold.”

Children's Day by Giselle Lin from Singapore

With Children's Day fast approaching, eight-year-old Xuan contemplates what to wear on that day, all the while navigating her place in school and at home.

The selection committee cited, “The simpler the idea, the greater the directorial precision and intuition necessary for the right execution. With sincerity, Children’s Day provides a window for international audiences to peek into the vulnerability of a young girl navigating the wonders and adversities of growing up. Giselle Lin’s tender and personal story will inspire other short film directors, reassuring them that filmmaking does not always rest on creating big ideas. Instead, stories can be told by observing and meditating on the simplest things that surround us.”

The Storytellers by Taufiqurrahman Kifu from (Indonesia)

In the afternoon, four young people accidentally meet in the red zone, a forbidden area that once eliminated thousands of people. There, they each wanted to find something. When evening came, they were met with something else.

The selection committee cited, “Taufiqurrahman Kifu subverts history by threading a traditional myth with new realities. He presents specific local knowledge against subjective interpretation, creating a new look at the past and achieving a newly defined status quo. Through a mix of poetic fiction, 3D animation, documentary sequences, and hybrid media, Kifu searches, alongside the protagonists of the film, for something buried within History. The Storytellers give the different narrative lives, vertical, horizontal, transverse – balance; casting a spell over all audiences alike.”

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Founded in 1987, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore. It has become an iconic event in the local arts calendar that is widely attended by international film critics, and known for its dynamic programming and focus on ground-breaking Asian cinema for Singapore and the region. Committed to nurturing and championing local and regional talent, its competition component, the Silver Screen Awards, brings together emerging filmmakers from Asia and Southeast Asia while paying tribute to acclaimed cinema legends.

With its mentorship programmes, masterclasses and dialogues with attending filmmakers, the Festival also serves as a catalyst for igniting public interest, artistic dialogue, and culture exchanges in the art of filming. The SGIFF is organised by the Singapore International Film Festival Ltd, a non-profit organisation with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status. The 34th edition of SGIFF will return from 30 November to 10 December 2023.

For more information, please visit

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Tan Ean Kiam Foundation

The Tan Ean Kiam Foundation was set up by Singapore pioneer, Tan Ean Kiam. For the last 64 years, it has dedicated its mission to the nurturing of local art and culture, and giving the gift of education, particularly for those in need. By giving to SEA-DOC, the Foundation hopes to encourage and support more local and SEA documentary filmmakers, especially those who are capturing and sharing the unique stories of Singapore and its region.

C47 Investment

C47 Investment is a content investment company based in Singapore and South Korea. Established in 2017, C47 Investment has invested in the development and production of over a dozen Korean-language TV and film projects. In 2020, C47 Investment began investing in content outside Korea. C47 Investment also sponsored various creative contests in Korea to discover new talent and is a proud sponsor of the SGIFF Southeast Asian-Short Film Grant. C47 Investment plans to widen its presence as a valuable investment partner to talented creators all across Asia. For more information, please visit

White Light Post

Founded in 2010, White Light Post is Thailand’s first boutique digital film lab. As filmmakers ourselves, we treat every film as if it is our own. Our mission is to tailor post-production solutions for filmmakers across Asia. We believe the alchemy of art, colour and science is the secret to amazing post-production.

White Light actively supports filmmakers and sponsors post-production awards at the Hong-Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), the Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC), the Purin Pictures Film Fund, and the Singapore International Film Festival’s SEA-Shorts Grant. We have supported films from a wide range of countries, including Thailand, China, Vietnam, Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, which have screened in leading film festivals like Berlin, Busan, Toronto, Singapore and many more.

White Light’s founders include award-winning DoP, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me By Your Name, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), and award-winning Editor, Lee Chatametikool (Apprentice, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Shutter). For more information, please visit

Selection Committee | SGIFF SEA-DOC Grant 2023
Name Designation
Arleen Cuevas
Film Producer, Philippines / Netherlands
Arleen Cuevas is the owner and producer for Cinematografica Films, a production company based in Manila that she co-founded with Raya Martin and Armi Cacanindin.
She has produced over 15 feature films and documentaries which have screened and won awards in different international film festivals such as Cannes, Locarno, Rotterdam, IDFA, and Busan, among others. Her production company, Cinematografica, has produced the documentary, Aswang (dir: Alyx Arumpac), which won the FIPRESCI award at the 2019 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. She also co-produces with Rein Entertainment and recently premiered the film, A Silent Night (dir. Shugo Praico) at the Metro Manila Film Festival in December 2022.
She splits her time between the Philippines and the Netherlands and is also a production lecturer for the Academy of AI, Games and Media at Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands.
María Palacios Cruz
Director of Open City Documentary Festival, UK / Spain
María Palacios Cruz is a film curator, writer and educator. She is currently the director of the Open City Documentary Festival in London and has been a programmer for the Courtisane Festival since 2008. Between 2017 and 2021 she helped to conceive and lead the Film Curating course at Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola in San Sebastian (Spain), and was Deputy Director of LUX, the UK agency for artists’ moving image, from 2015 to 2020. María writes regularly on artists’ moving images and avant-garde cinema and is a co-founder of The Visible Press.
Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa
Film Critic and Writer, Thailand
Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa is a cinephile, film critic, writer, and editorial team member of Film Club Thailand. He is also the founder of Wildtype, a loose group of Thai cinephiles that organises film screenings, and seminars, and publishes film books in Thailand. Since 2008, Wiwat has curated and organised a series of Thai short film screenings called Filmvirs Wildtype, which focuses on overlooked Thai short films. Since 2018, he has collaborated with the Documentary Club to program film events and organise documentary film festivals.
Selection Committee | SGIFF SEA-SHORTS Grant 2023
Name Designation
Thong Kay Wee
SGIFF Programme Director
Thong Kay Wee is a cultural worker and moving image curator based in Singapore. He is currently the Programme Director at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), where he is responsible for the festival’s overall programming strategy. He was previously the Programmes and Outreach Officer at the Asian Film Archive (AFA) from 2014 to 2021. Aside from overseeing partnerships and promotions, he was responsible for establishing the AFA’s regular film programmes at its new dedicated cinematheque in 2019, with a focus on both contemporary and classic Asian film selections.
Maike Mia Höhne
Artistic Director of Hamburg Short Film Festival, Germany
Since March 2019, Maike Mia Höhne has been the artistic director of the Hamburg Short Film Festival since March 2019. She is a multi-award-winning filmmaker who has also participated in jury selections, committees and as a curator for film events internationally. From 2007 to 2019, she was head of Berlinale Shorts of the Berlin International Film Festival. Höhne is a professor of film at the University of Applied Sciences Europe in Hamburg and also teaches Film theory and making at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg.
Ifa Isfansyah
Filmmaker and Festival Director of Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia
Ifa Isfansyah is an Indonesian filmmaker. He co-founded Fourcolours Films in 2001 to produce and support Indonesian filmmakers. He has directed several short films and feature films, including Garuda di Dadaku (2009) which was a tremendous commercial success and The Dancer (2011), which won Best Director and Best Picture at the Indonesian Film Festival. He has also produced for Indonesian filmmakers such as Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo, Garin Nugroho and Kamila Andini. He is a co-founder and Festival Director of the JOGJA-NETPAC Asian Film Festival and a founder of the JOGJA FILM ACADEMY, which was established in 2014. He is currently working on the Netflix series Cigarette Girl.