Local director Anthony Chen made award-winning film -- but has only $250 left in bank

19 November 2013 / 2 years 11 months ago

Singaporean director Anthony Chen may have won critical acclaim on the global stage, but the real shocker is this internationally-feted film maker has only $250 of savings in his bank account.

According to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao via AsiaOne, 29-year-old Chen only earned an estimated $20,000 over a four-year period while he produced and directed his award-winning debut feature film, Ilo Ilo.

In contrast, Ilo Ilo has gone on to bag a string of 15 international awards, beginning with the  Camera d'Or award for best first feature film at the Cannes International Film Festival earlier in May. In October, the drama won the Sutherland Award for Best First Feature at the BFI London Film Festival, beating 11 other films from around the world.

The film snagged three more awards, including for Best Feature Film and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 43rd Molodist International Film Festival in Kiev, Ukraine, Best Narrative Feature Film at the Philadelphia Film Festival in the United States, and another three awards in Hungary at the 10th Miskolc International Film Festival, winning prizes for exceptional performance, enterprising film and genuine talent.

Child actor Koh Jia Ler, who plays one of the leads in the movie, also won the Best Actor award at the 9th Eurasia Film Festival in Kazakhstan.

It also earned a bumper crop of six nominations for the November 23 Golden Horse Awards, with nominations for best feature film, best new director for Anthony Chen, best supporting actor for Chen Tianwen, best supporting actress for Yeo Yann Yann, best new performer for Koh Jia Ler and best original screenplay for Anthony Chen.

The 25-strong cast will also be flying to Taiwan on their own budget to attend the Golden Horse Awards. But Chen has no regrets. He said jokingly: "I feel like I'm selling myself for the film!" To date, local box-office receipts for the movie, which cost $700,000 to make, totalled about $900,000.

Chen told Lianhe Wanbao that he had a shock when he found out that his bank account was left with $250 when he wanted to do a fund transfer on a publicity trip in Hong Kong.

Join in the talk