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'Ilo Ilo' director Anthony Chen sets up new film company

By Zaki JufriMovies - 12 December 2014 4:51 PM | Updated 5:53 PM

'Ilo Ilo' director Anthony Chen sets up new film company

Hot on the heels of his wins at Cannes and the Golden Horse Awards last year, Singapore filmmaker Anthony Chen, who shot to fame with ‘Ilo Ilo’, a film about a Filipino domestic worker, announced Friday 12 December that he is launching a new film production company.

Giraffe Pictures, a collaboration with Huang Wenhong, associate producer on ‘Ilo Ilo’, aims to develop and nurture filmmaking talent in Singapore and Asia.


Singapore filmmaker Anthony Chen (right) with Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin | Photo: Zaki Jufri

“We are lacking a home for filmmakers in Asia, where they may be completely protected to make the films they want to make, as well as hone their own voices,” Chen said.

He recalled the struggles of making his first feature films and hopes that his new company may help young filmmakers with some of the processes.

“Some of the best filmmaking talents in the world are from Asia, but most of them don’t have the opportunity to showcase their craft. I am now in a position to help, nurture and develop. I’m hoping that these talents out there may be showcased to the world and may receive the same kind of recognition that ‘Ilo Ilo’ got,” he added.

READ ALSO: Anthony Chen 'uncaged'

Chen said that the plan is to release one to two feature films a year from 2015, starting with ‘Distance’, an omnibus of three films from three directors.

It is a collaboration with China’s Guangxi Film Group, and Chen will serve as its executive producer.

‘Distance’ will be helmed by three award-winning directors: Tan Shijie (Singapore), Xin Yukun (China) and Sivaroj Kongsakul (Thailand). It stars Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin (‘Blue Gate Crossing’) who will be acting in all three films within the omnibus.

Principal photography will start in January 2015 in Singapore, Taiwan, China and Thailand, and the movie is scheduled to be released late 2015.

Chen said: “I find the theme ‘distance’ very interesting as it implies geographical distance, physical, emotional and spiritual distance. It is such a complexed and layered theme that we can explore."

The human condition has been a mark of Chen’s work and something that he cares about: “To me love, friendship and kinship sum up the meaning of life and that is very interesting. People who watch the movie will find it very profound despite it having a simple premise.” 

READ ALSO: 'Ilo Ilo' wins 4 Golden Horse Awards

China director Xin Yukun said he was confident that the team would "learn new things through such collision of ideas". 

Singapore filmmaker Tan Shijie chose "friendship" as his theme for the project. “Friendship is the most undefined relationship among the chosen themes. Making a film about friendship that people have not seen before is a big challenge,” Tan said.

Possibly facing the biggest hurdle is the lead actor, and Singapore's Chen said: “I cannot wait to see Bolin portray three different characters in three different stories in three cities.”

Making his mark in films such as 'Blue Gate Crossing' and 'Buddha Mountain', actor Chen Bolin was roped into this project after recommendations by Anthony Chen's friends and colleagues. 

The Taiwanese actor said: "This project is very interesting and of course, challenging. For me, it is not just about the three different roles that I will be playing but rather the things they share. It almost feels that these characters live in parallel universes."

Other upcoming projects by Giraffe Pictures include K Rajagopal’s long-awaited debut feature, ‘A Yellow Bird’ (selected at the Cannes L’Atelier in 2013) and Kirsten Tan’s debut feature, ‘Popeye’, which won the top prize at the Torino Film Lab in November.