20 winners at National Youth Film Awards 2023; Student category swept by LASALLE and NTU
Each winner was awarded $1,000 and an industry pass to the upcoming Singapore International Film Festival.
A total of 22 youths emerged as winners of the 9th National Youth Film Awards (NYFA).
This was announced on Thursday (Aug 31) during the NYFA award ceremony at *SCAPE The Ground Theatre, which was also streamed live on its Facebook page.
NYFA is a filmmaking competition organised by *SCAPE since 2015. It serves to nurture and celebrate youths’ talents in the various aspects of filmmaking, while helping to launch them into the industry.
An “impressive” 327 submissions were entered into this year’s Awards, and only 60 films were nominated. Among these shortlisted films, 20 of them came out on top across the Student and Open Youth categories.
Some winners were awarded for the following across both categories: Best Director, Best Sound Design, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Short Film.
The most notable films from these categories are The Sun is Up and I Shall Live by Marcarius Chia and 烟熏到了眼睛 (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes) by Alvin Lee, Angelina Bok, and Chew Pei Yi. Both submissions won Best Short Film for “breaking the bounds of the conventional drama trope”.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student Marcarius’ film The Sun is Up and I Shall Live was praised for its “expert handling” of heavy mental health topics. According to the jury, it won the Student category Best Short Film as the lead characters were able to express domestic stress and dementia “perfectly”.
As for that in the Open Youth category, the trio’s film 烟熏到了眼睛 (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes) dove into how a funeral director went about undoing their wrong after sending the wrong body for cremation, and was awarded for being “a stand-out work of merit”.
These two films earned the opportunity to be directly screened at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) as part of its official selection. This would offer the four winning youth filmmakers “the unique opportunity to showcase their film to seasoned industry veterans”.
Five other youth filmmakers clinched awards like Most Promising Award, Special Mention, Best Original Music, Best Lead Performance and Best Supporting Performance.
When looking through the submissions entered under the Student category, it was noted that youth filmmakers “pushed the envelope” by centering their works around mental health and controversial themes.
Two student films that stood out the most to the jury are LASALLE College of the Arts’ Hein Htut’s Grandfather’s Son and NTU’s Eliza Danielle Goh En’s Built to Scale, which won Best Director and Best Screenplay respectively. The former scored for its conveyance of “profound emotional depth”, while the latter was awarded for its take on toxic corporate culture and unique narrative structure.
The other Student category award recipients are LASALLE’s Niranjan Samuel Bennet for Best Sound Design, Tan Ker Wei for Best Art Direction, Winston Hong for Best Cinematography, NTU’s Ryan Goh Choon Tat for Best Editing, and Leong Yong Jia Tiffany for Most Promising Award.
It is noted that LASALLE and NTU students were awarded the most amount of awards under this category, with four and three in their hands respectively.
Among the Open Youth category winners, three films were highlighted for their storytelling skills and exploration of sensitive topics.
Tan Wei Ting’s moving film 中年情 (Love at Fifty) – which won Best Director – captured the jury’s attention for “unearthing nuanced aspects of Singaporean society”. It depicts the story of a divorced mother and her perspective on late-life romance, which is something that is uncommonly discussed between Singaporeans.
Denise Khng’s film Motherland was awarded Best Screenplay for challenging Singapore’s “entrenched societal norms of filial piety and systemic obedience”. It depicts these conventions and their impact in a bold banner to reflect how such norms are perceived in today’s society.
Ryan Benjamin Lee’s film The Parade told the story of Singapore’s political landscape as a hidden critical commentary. It received the Best Editing award for relaying its message in a vibrant yet daring way.
The other Open Youth category award recipients are Alistair Quak for Best Sound Design, Aeryn Chong Jia Wei for Best Art Direction, Clyde Kam for Best Cinematography, and Elizabeth Xu for Special Mention.
Three youths also won special joint awards – NTU’s Jazreel Low for Best Original Music, Xenia Tan for Best Lead Performance, and Ang Ye Chyi for Best Supporting Performance.
On top of the Student and Open Youth category awards, NYFA also gave young filmmaker Jeremy Chua the NYFA 2023 Youth Inspiration Award for his “outstanding commitment to the filmmaking industry in Singapore”.
All NYFA 2023 winners walked away with a $1,000 cash prize, an industry pass to the 34th SGIFF, and more prizes from brands such as SONY, Cathay Photo and Mocha Chai Laboratories.