Movie Feature

Anthony Chen ‘uncaged’

By Zaki JufriMovies - 22 May 2014 8:00 AM | Updated 23 May 2014

Anthony Chen ‘uncaged’

He may have been a whiz behind the camera, but thanks to Tiger Beer, the tables have turned for Singaporean film director Anthony Chen as he faces the camera to front its new campaign.

Launched worldwide on 21 May, Tiger Beer’s ‘Uncage’ sees the acclaimed director of the award-winning film ‘Ilo Ilo’ starring in a 60-second commercial.

Read also: 'Ilo Ilo' movie review

The story in the commercial is how Chen struggled to find success in film.

Anthony Chen holds his trophies after winning the Best New Director and the Best Original Screenplay at the 50th Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei. Photo: AFP

“I like the whole concept of ‘uncaging’,” Chen told inSing at the launch of the campaign at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.

“Everyone has that innate potential and it’s about unleashing it. It’s about not being defined by what people think of you and you being yourself… I’m proud to share our local homegrown brand with the world.”

Chen is one of three people featured in the campaign.

Each commercial in the ‘Tiger Uncage’ campaign tells the story of a different personality, including female Chinese tattooist Joey Pang, who went from being a makeup artist to a sought-after tattooist, and Thai-American stuntman Charlie Ruedpokanon, who studied business management in college but is now a Shaolin-trained stuntman.

"What this campaign is really about is celebrating people who follow their passion to realise their dreams. Anthony is such a great example of that story," said Asia Pacific Breweries' marketing director Rene de Monchy.

He added, "We find that this idea of 'uncaging' is particularly relevant to Singapore. We see that Singapore is an 'uncaged' nation. Just look at what it has achieved in a relatively short period of time."


Certainly, Chen is not about to switch to being an actor soon. The winner of the Camera d’Or prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival prefers to be in the director’s chair.

“I don’t think I have the patience to be an actor,” he quipped.

Also read: 5 Singapore filmmakers to watch

“There’s a lot of waiting on set... Whenever I’m filming, whether it’s a short film or a long feature, I’m always on my toes. I’m making a decision every minute and every second. I love that challenge,” he explained.

2013 was a whirlwind year for Chen, who went on a tour to show ‘Ilo Ilo’ at film festivals in India, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and picking up awards while on the road.

‘Ilo Ilo’ also won Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, including Best Feature and Best New Director.

A still from 'Ilo Ilo'

Read also: ‘Ilo Ilo’ wins 4 Golden Horse Awards

Chen said: “The year has been incredible. It has such been a wonderful and magical journey. I hope that is not the peak of my career because I still want to filmmaking for many more years.”


Based in London with his wife, Chen is now working on two projects.

Without divulging details, he told inSing that one is an adaptation of a English novel, a contemporary family drama that spans 40 years, while the other is based on an original script he is writing and that will be based in Singapore.

Chen said that people were surprised to see a different side of Singapore after watching his film.

“A lot of foreigners have a very superficial understanding about Singapore. They know it as an affluent, clean and strict country,” he said.

“People who saw the film were surprised that there are middle-class families; that Singaporeans are real people with real problems. All of a sudden they can connect themselves with true-blue Singaporeans.

“They saw how different we are from other cultures and at the same time, they saw how we are all alike.”