Singapore had its first film competing for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, Eric Khoo's My Magic. And though the Straits Times did a nice story about the film before it went to the festival, it still seems like it's taken forever for the local media to take note of Khoo's achievement.
Finally, Channel NewsAsia worked up a piece about the film. Here's an excerpt:
It was a proud moment for the Singapore cast and crew when 2,000 people gave My Magic a long standing ovation at the film's screening in Cannes.
The film, which is in a mixture of Tamil and English, is about an estranged relationship between a father and his son. It beat 4,000 entries around the world to be nominated for the official competition in Cannes.
Even though My Magic did not win [any awards], there was no shortage of media attention for the film's cast, especially lead actor Bosco Francis.
Unfortunately, the first-time actor, who is a magician in real life, was recently hospitalised for chest pains and is not available for interviews.
Eric Khoo, director of My Magic, said: "All the French press said Francis should actually win the best actor award... One article said if the judges (were) brave enough, they should give the award to him.
"The main thing is if he gets scouted, then maybe he can act in a Hollywood film or something... I think this will open doorways for Francis, and I made this film for him."
"When I did the auditions, Uncle Francis did this little bizarre magic where he took a spear and put it through his arm. When I saw that, I got really frightened about acting with such a crazy man. But I got used to it and he's a really nice guy," said actor Jathishweran Naidu, one of the film's cast.
The article goes on to say that My Magic has been sold to 10 countries, including India, Argentina and South Korea. It is expected to be screened in Singapore sometime next year.
This year, about 20 films are expected to be produced by Singaporean filmmakers, which is double the number in 2007.
Time magazine recently had an interview with three directors: Khoo, Ekachai Uekrongtham (Pleasure Factory, The Coffin) and Brian Gothong Tan (Lucky Seven).
They addressed the changing climate for Singapore, which has the reputation of being a harsh environment for creative expression.
Things are loosening up, aren't they?
KHOO: I started doing short films back in 1989, and I can feel the change. A lot of the stuff that I couldn't get away with back then, we can get away with now. I think that they do want the population to be more creative and self-expressive. That's basically it.
UEKRONGTHAM: Part of that relaxation could also be economically driven, because the government has expressly said that it wants to increase the GDP from the media sector by a certain percentage, and part of that is that they need to be seen as allowing freedom and creativity.
TAN: Yeah, Singapore is quite uptight in some senses. But I think the government is realizing that. Education has a lot to do with that as well — the kids of this generation are so in touch with everything. With the Internet and all that, it's so easy for them to get information at their fingertips.
Back to My Magic, Stefan at A Nutshell Review has compiled links to the reviews of the film by the industry press at Cannes, and has included a trailer.