SINGAPORE: Local filmmaker Kirsten Tan’s debut feature POP AYE has been selected to compete in the renowned Sundance Film Festival, making history as the first ever Singaporean feature film to do so.
Sundance, a US festival founded by Hollywood legend Robert Redford, is well known for being the launching pad for international talent and independent cinema including Boyhood, Whiplash, Little Miss Sunshine, Reservoir Dogs, An Inconvenient Truth and Napoleon Dynamite.
Tan’s POP AYE will be competing in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition against 11 other films vying for several awards, including the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema Directing Award and the Audience Prize.
The World Cinema competition at Sundance, which is being held in January next year, is dedicated to the discovery of new films and new voices from around the world
A Singapore-Thailand production, POP AYE tells the story of a disenchanted man who encounters his long-lost elephant on the streets of Bangkok and takes his old friend on a redemptive journey across the country in search of the farm where they grew up together, only to discover the truth about himself and the life he callously left behind.
The film is produced by multi-award winning director Anthony Chen’s Giraffe Pictures, along with producer Huang Wenhong and Lai Weijie of E&W Films.
Tan, who was born and raised in Singapore, and is currently based in New York, is seen as a rising star in the local film-making world. POP AYE was selected for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival’s 11th Cinefondation’s L’Atelier as well as the 2014 Berlinale Talent’s Script Station. Tan also took home the top prize of US$75,000 (S$101,700) at the TorinoFilmLab in 2014. Her short film Dahdi (Granny) won Best Southeast Asian Short Film at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival’s Silver Screen Awards.
“When I first heard the news that my debut feature POP AYE was invited to compete at Sundance, I was over the moon,” she said. “Having lived in New York for close to a decade, it feels truly special to have my first film play at such a prestigious American film festival like Sundance. I have worked so hard on the film for so long time and now, I just can't wait for everyone to see it.”
Executive producer Chen, who himself made history with his debut feature Ilo Ilo winning the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or and Golden Horse Best Film, said this is "heartening" news for the team and for Singapore cinema.
“We hope to continue the wave of recent successes that Singapore films have achieved with POP AYE,” he added. “This empowers us even more in the work that we do at Giraffe Pictures, supporting and nurturing emerging Singaporean and Asian filmmakers.”