Getting to Know Our Southeast Asian Short Film Directors

By Brandon Chai, Ho Say Peng, Zachary Tang

Before the start of SGIFF, the Youth Jury came up with some questions for the directors whose films are competing in the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition in order to get to know them better. Here are some of their answers.—Which Southeast Asian food best represents your film?Anj Macalanda (Wawa): Bicol Express – acquired taste, has a kick to it.Sothea Chhin (The Scavenger): Prahok (smelly salty fish)Edward Khoo (June in Pieces): Roti Prata – cyclical and a bit cliché.Virginia Kennedy (Thread): Ciku – brown on the outside and sweet in the middle.Carlo Francisco Manatad (Junilyn Has): mango sticky rice.Bicol Express, a popular Filipino dish. (a href= is your favourite Singaporean film?Chiang Wei Liang (Soulik): 12 Storeys by Eric Khoo. Made two decades ago, it’s still relevant today.Gladys Ng (My Father After Dinner): 03-FLATS by Lei Yuan Bin. I came to the screening of the film during the festival last year not knowing what to expect and ended up loving it quite a lot. To me, the film was an honest portrayal of Singapore. I was also charmed by the subtle and non-intrusive voyeuristic approach, letting us observe the lives of the people in the film, and in there we find humour and sadness in their loneliness.Lucky Kuswandi (The Fox Exploits the Tiger’s Might): Singapore Gaga by Tan Pin Pin. I love how Tan explores the soundscape of a country as a form of social criticism.Sothea Chhin: Ilo Ilo by Anthony Chen. It’s a very good personal film which tells of a memory of a young boy and his maid. I think most good films are mainly from someone’s personal story or experience in life because it reflect so well to the society that he/she lived in.Virginia Kennedy: Chicken Rice War by Chee Kong Cheah, because it is ashamedly the ONLY Singaporean film I have seen. UGH!Eric Khoo’s 12 Storeys (1997) was the first Singapore film to be invited to Cannes.What do you do apart from filmmaking?Prapat Jiwarangsan: I do not position myself as a filmmaker, and filmmaking is not my full-time job. Instead, I see myself as a visual artist who sometimes uses film as a medium for my artistic practice. My film The Asylum is a part of my art project which consists of photography, film and letters. So, to answer your question: apart from filmmaking I spend my time developing my artworks. In 2016, I will be in a 3-month artist-residency program in Seoul, Korea. I hope I will produce exciting work soon.Carlo Francisco Manatad: I do the laundry…feed the cats…make my bed…kidding. I work full time as a post production head for films. So yeah.Jan Pineda: I’ve been a freelance graphic designer and videographer. Now, I’m a video producer for a telecom brand in the Philippines. I’m also the visual communications editor at an art research group called Disclab Research and Criticism, who’s a recipient of this year’s DOEN Foundation’s multi-year grant through Arts Collaboratory.Sai Naw Kham (The Crocodile Creek): I help my mother by selling Shan noodles at home.Virginia Kennedy: I avoid activities that interrupt filmmaking. I eat. I sleep and I cultivate my well-honed agoraphobia.Adi Marsono: Travelling, visiting places that have beautiful natural sceneryGladys Ng: Dream up ideas for a new project and procrastinating before acting on them!Who is your favourite Southeast Asian Director?Virginia Kennedy: an Chui Mui (MY)Le Bao (Scent): Tran Anh Hung (VN)Anj Macalanda: Lav Diaz (PH)Gladys Ng: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit (TH)Sothea Chhin: Anthony Chen (SG)Chiang Wei Liang, Edward Khoo, Prapat Jiwarangsan (The Asylum), Lucky Kuswandi, Jan Pineda (Memorial of an Inquiry),Kavich Neang (Three Wheels): Apichatpong Weerasethakul (TH)

Looks like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who won the Palme d’Or in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee Recalls His Past Lives, is by far the most popular SEA filmmaker among SEA filmmakers. ( What do you think is the role of cinema in today’s society? Chiang Wei Liang: Show them what they can’t see, what they don’t know. Tell them all about it. Prapat Jiwarangsan: Cinema is a contact zone that brings people together. Whether we agree or disagree with one another, or with a film, at least we start a new conversation. Adi Marsono: Bring a message about humanity. Increasingly make people aware that we live under the same sun. Jan Pineda: Cinema’s role in today’s society is to help us re-evaluate the forgotten and the lapses in our collective memory. Gladys Ng: I think cinema, like books, is great when it awakens, opens up new insights and provoke thoughts. It questions our way of existence and evokes a greater love or hate for humanity. Sothea Chhin: Not only for entertainment purposes; cinema plays a very crucial role in shaping the society that we are living nowadays. Cinema reflects what we are living in through different stories and perspectives of different directors. Cinema is also a platform for showing different cultures through the language of the film itself and it will also be the future archive for the next generation. Edward Khoo: Confection: sequels and 3D glasses. What do you think makes a good film festival? Jan Pineda: For me, a good festival film emanates sincerity. Adi Marsono: Festival that accommodates all kinds of movies. In order for the messages of humanity brought by a movie to be accessed by many people. Gladys Ng: One that screens quality films, though not adhering to a certain preference for a genre. A good festival is one where you can trust to pick a film to watch at a random and walk out feeling superb, surprised, shocked or offended. Anj Macalanda: Good lineup of films, hospitality and convenience for guests, creating avenue for filmmakers to learn and network while having fun (those events that work even for the introverted ones!) Le Bao: Equity. Diversity in movie styles. Concerned about young filmmakers. Prapat Jiwarangsan: The good film festival is the one that has a budget to invite filmmakers, even the short-film filmmakers, to join the festival. This is why I think SGIFF is a very good one.—We hope that this quick Q\u0026amp;A session provides a little bit more insight into the minds of our SEA short film directors and helps to bridge the gap between filmmaker and audience. We encourage our readers to check out their shorts film in the four wonderfully curated short film programmes and discover whole new worlds within SEA.