SINGAPORE: For the first time, a Singapore production has been selected to be in the Main Competition (Concorso Internazionale) at the Locarno Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland - one of the world’s most established festivals known for giving recognition to arthouse films.
A Land Imagined, written and directed by Yeo Siew Hua, is a Chinese-language thriller set in industrial Singapore. It stars veteran actor Peter Yu in his debut feature film role as a police investigator who must get to the bottom of a case involving a missing lorry and a construction worker from China.
The film is up for the Golden Leopard, the Festival’s grand prize for Best Film – an award worth 90,000 Swiss francs (S$120,000).
It is also in competition for the Special Jury Prize and awards for Best Direction, Best Actor and Best Actress.
The 71st Locarno Film Festival takes place from Aug 1 to Aug 11, and on Aug 7, A Land Imagined will screen as a World Premiere.
That’s when Yu himself will be seeing the film for the first time. “To be frank, I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I’m lost,” he told CNA Lifestyle with a chuckle. “I’m very excited and I don’t know what to expect – I’ve never attended an event like this before. When I get there, I just want to relax and enjoy it.”
About his performance in A Land Imagined, Yu said, “The most important thing about this film was my chemistry with the director – he was satisfied, so I was satisfied.” He added: “I never really go out and seek opportunities, but this door just opened for me. I follow any opportunity, big or small. They have all brought me, step by step, to this point.”
Although he is remembered for his roles in television dramas in the 90s, the 50-year-old has recently started taking on more diverse acting projects such as this one. “As actors, we look to improve ourselves every day, and we are always learning. Each film is different. This one was more arty. I like trying different roles,” said the 50-year-old, who also stars in Singapore’s first monster film, Circle Line, slated for release in the later half of 2019.
A Land Imagined, a Singapore-France-Netherlands co-production, is presented by Akanga Film Asia, the production company behind other internationally acclaimed films such as Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice and Sandcastle, K Rajagopal’s A Yellow Bird and Ho Tzu Nyen’s Here.
Producer Fran Borgia, founder of Akanga Film Asia, said: “As the first Singapore feature film to be in competition at Locarno Film Festival, A Land Imagined marks an important milestone for Singapore films. We are thrilled to continue making waves at important international film festivals with A Land Imagined”.