Veteran actor Zhu Houren stars in short film directed by his son

25 July 2016 / 3 months 16 hours ago

Deborah Wee
The New Paper
July 24, 2016

The National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) honours the best film-makers from local institutions of higher learning.

And for local actor Zhu Houren, it was also a family affair.

The 61-year-old Channel 8 veteran was at the awards ceremony held at *Scape yesterday with his wife to support his sons Jonathan, 27, and Joel Choo, 22, who were nominated for Best Direction and Best Original Music respectively.

Jonathan, a freelance director and Nanyang Technological University digital film-making graduate, won in his category for his short film Han, in which Zhu was the lead actor.

Jonathan had previously directed his father in Stroll, which was nominated at last year's NYFA.

He told The New Paper on Sunday: "It felt surreal... I am happy and honoured."

"I was shocked (he won)," added Zhu in Mandarin.


"When he was 15, he told me that he wanted to be a director... I've been supporting him since."

Fifty-seven nominees and nearly 400 guests, school representatives and industry members attended the NYFA, which is in its second year.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was the guest of honour.

Zhu said: "I noticed when (Jonathan) was directing me, he was never stressed that I am his father... there was never any pressure between us."

Jonathan has never relied on Zhu's connections within the entertainment industry to succeed, and Zhu is equally unwilling to provide his son with such connections.

Zhu said: "I have confidence that he'll be able to succeed with his own talent."

Joel, who is doing his national service, was nominated for his work on short film Bake In Action.

The music and audio technology student from Singapore Polytechnic has been playing guitar since he was 12 but did not consider composing for films until he began working on film projects in school.

"People say (being in the entertainment industry) runs in the blood, but I don't think so. It is based on personal interest," Joel said, highlighting that he chose to pursue music instead of acting or directing.

While there are no plans to collaborate with his father and brother yet, Joel said he would love to do so.

The NYFA was also special for Miss Julie Heather Liew, 25, who took home the Best Production Design Award for Sweet Bloom Of Night Time Flowers.

The short film's cast and main crew were almost entirely made up of women, a decision by director Rifyal Giffari, 26, who wanted to increase the representation of women on- and off-screen.

Mr Rifyal said: "I was a bit frustrated that short films and the media mainly represented men... I feel that guys need to recognise their privilege... I want to use my advantage to project other people's voices."

Mr Rifyal and Miss Liew are Nanyang Technological University digital film-making graduates.

The NYFA is Miss Liew's first nomination and win for a film. She hopes it will signal the arrival of more opportunities for women in film.

She said: "For me, (the award is) the beginning of change."

This article was first published on July 24, 2016. 
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