Nominated films featured prominent themes such as mental health and the importance of connection in the wake of the pandemic.
The National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) return for its seventh edition this year with 56 nominated films from over 300 film submissions. Organised by *SCAPE, NYFA presents new batches of filmmakers for the local film industry annually. This year, the nominated films are centered around themes such as mental health, self-discovery and importance of human connection against the backdrop of COVID-19.
To uncover how Singaporeans work through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, some of the nominated films were filmed and curated during the circuit breaker.
The pandemic did nothing to stop the youth filmmakers’ creativity and passion from making relevant and heart-rendering films to tug at the heartstrings of judges.
A Little Closer by Cheryl Mong from the Student category presents different perspectives of Singaporeans battling the pandemic. This film was commended by the pre-jury for how relevant it is to audiences, especially when it speaks about dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19.
It revolves around a young Indian man, Ashwin, who works as a stay-home caller during the pandemic. While working from home, he forms an unlikely friendship with a Chinese elderly lady who helps him discover the importance of tradition and family.
Another film that was highlighted is The Cup by Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen from the Open Youth category.
The story is about a man with a coffee brewing machine as his head and how he attempts to improve the bland flavour of his body, and the filmmakers took an unique approach to tell a story about the uncertainty and lack of joy Singaporeans felt during the pandemic.
“We wanted to make a film that offered a humorous take on that and ask why there was this dissatisfaction and seeming flattening out of life. With the limitations posed, we had to get creative to execute some of the practical effects,” said Mark Chua.
The entire film was shot and produced during the circuit breaker while the filmmakers were confined at home.
Our youth filmmakers came up with unique storylines such as a taxi driver forming a risqué partnership with a social escort to protect his daughter from bankruptcy in Booking, and in Scavenger, an old homeless scavenger must gather offerings for her wedding or she won’t be able to marry her late fiancé before he reincarnates.
*SCAPE director Ivy Lim commented that the youth filmmakers well exceeded expectations.
She said: “Even though the youths faced an uphill battle to complete their films during these uncertain times, the 330 NYFA 2021 submissions proved otherwise. As a youth organisation, we are proud of our youths who demonstrated resilience in pursuing their passion despite the limitations presented.”
These sentiments were shared by the pre-selection jurors as well, and felt that many films were award-worthy.
International Emmys nominee and this year’s pre-selection juror of the Open Youth category Jacelyn Chan was “very impressed with the diversity and quality of submissions”.
Linh Dong, Vietnamese filmmaker and pre-selection juror of the Student category shared that she was surprised by the production level of submissions and “could see the amount of dedication that the students put into their works, as well as the efforts to search for new storytelling language.”
The public can watch some of the nominees on Reel Talk, a NYFA web series hosted by Fly Entertainment artiste Nikki Muller, on *SCAPE’s YouTube channel on Jul 14, 17 and 21.
NYFA will be hosting a closed-door screening of the nominated films for the nominees and the media in early July. Winners will be announced on Jul 24 via a live online awards ceremony show.
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