Director Anthony Chen's Wet Season wins big at Chinese film festival

SINGAPORE – Home-grown director Anthony Chen’s latest film Wet Season won big at the recent Pingyao International Film Festival held in Shanxi, China.

The 35-year-old’s much anticipated second feature – after his Golden Horse Award-winning debut Ilo Ilo (2013) – won the Fei Mu Best Film Award and the Cinephilia Critics’ Award.

Lead actress Yeo Yann Yann also bagged the Fei Mu Best Actress prize.

The film, set in Singapore, tells the story of a teacher (played by Yeo) and her relationship with a student as she struggles with fertility issues and marriage problems.

Accepting her award onstage, Yeo thanked Chen and her mentor, late theatre practitioner Kuo Pao Kun and said: “Playing Ling was very challenging for me since her personality is completely different from Yeo Yann Yann, I had to break myself in order to embark on Ling’s journey. It was extremely gruelling yet strangely fulfilling.”

Actor Koh Jia Ler, who made his debut with Ilo Ilo, playsYeo’s student.

The two had played mother and son in Ilo Ilo.

Wet Season, which will premiere in Singapore as the opening film of the Singapore International Film Festival on Nov 21, has been well-received by audiences in China, selling out multiple screenings.

The jury of the Pingyao International Film Festival, which was founded in 2017 by acclaimed Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke and film historian Marco Muller, said Wet Season was “directed with maturity and restraint, and observed everyday life with sensitivity”.

Jury members this year include famed Chinese actress Joan Chen and artistic director of the Berlin International Film Festival Carlo Chatrian.

Chen, who said in a statement that the filming of Wet Season was “tumultuous and filled with challenges”, also thanked Chinese audiences for recognising the film.

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