ShoutOUT! 'Wet Season' to open the 30th SGIFF and nabs Golden Horse nominations with 'A Land Imagined'

Singapore director Anthony Chen's tender, impassioned drama Wet Season 《热带雨》 will open the 30th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) on 21 November 2019 at Capitol Theatre. The introspective feature was the sole Asian entry in competition at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival’s Platform competition, and marked the first time a Singaporean film was selected for the section. SGIFF will run from 21 November to 1 December 2019.

Wet Season 《热带雨》deals with the contemporary theme of unlikely friendships, burrowing under the skin of a restless, budding Singapore. Set during the monsoon season, the double character study follows the plight of a Malaysia-born Chinese language secondary school teacher, Ling (starring independent film veteran Yeo Yann Yann), and her curious, self-affirming relationship with a student, Wei Lun (starring Koh Jia Ler, who was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 50th Golden Horse Awards for his performance in Ilo Ilo). Ling finds little respect wherever she is. 

At school, her teaching subject Mandarin is met with contempt and disinterest; at home, her marriage is fraying as she single-handedly bears the burden of conceiving without the support of her often-absent husband. She receives unexpected solace from Wei Lun, who carries a similar loneliness from neglect by his peers and family. Enveloped by their yearning to be understood, their special bond provides relief from their stifling circumstances, blossoming into a forbidden romance in the humid tropics. 

Driven by the lesser-seen female perspective, the audience is left to ponder on the complexity of the human spirit as they discover the fluidity of societal roles and identity in the shoes of Ling. 

Executive Director of SGIFF Yuni Hadi commented, “Over the years, Singapore filmmakers have brought their dreams across the globe, anchored on resonating stories of home, or steadfast tales with Singaporean sensibilities at their core. It is meaningful for us to open the 30th edition with a Singapore film. Anthony Chen’s break-out debut in 2013 was a defining moment in our cinematic history, and we are excited to open the 30th SGIFF with his highly-anticipated sophomore feature that continues to reveal the intricacies of human relationships and connections. SGIFF is committed to being a discovery ground and champion for Singapore film, as we look forward to celebrating and connecting over many more years of inspiring Southeast Asian cinema.” 

Wet Season 《热带雨》 is Anthony Chen’s second directorial feature after the award-winning Ilo Ilo, which was recognised by forty awards internationally, including four Golden Horse Awards at the 50th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. 

Sharing on Wet Season as the opening film of SGIFF, Anthony Chen said, “It makes me so happy to premiere Wet Season to Singapore audiences at SGIFF especially in its milestone 30th edition. The Festival remains at the heart of Singapore and Southeast Asian cinema, and I treasure this opportunity to be sharing my film journey with a community that has encouraged and nurtured me right from the beginning.” 

Anthony added, "All the films I have made have always been personal in some way or other. While developing Wet Season, Ling’s desire to have a child oddly mirrors my own experience of trying to start a family with my wife. The desperation and pain, resilience and determination of Ling is something I have observed and greatly empathise with."

On working with Yeo Yann Yann and Koh Jia Ler again, Anthony said, " It was not part of the plan at all. Like in Ilo Ilo, I spent a long period of over one and half years working with my casting team in search of a fresh face to play the 16-year-old student in Wet Season. We saw hundreds of boys and did a year-long workshop with a group of shortlisted boys. We couldn’t quite find our ideal teenager, and I chanced upon a recent photo of Jia Ler on instagram and decided to throw him into the mix. He sparkled immediately and the entire team knew right away he was the one to play Wei Lun. Jia Ler has grown up so much in 6 years, but his natural flair for performance and rhythm continues to flourish."

Wet Season 《热带雨》also received another piece of good news yesterday when it had clinched a total of six nominations at the upcoming 56th Golden Horse Awards. The nominations include: 
  • Best Narrative Feature 最佳剧情长片 · 
  • Best Director (Anthony Chen) 最佳导演 (陈哲艺)  
  • Best Leading Actress (Yeo Yann Yann) 最佳女主角 (杨雁雁) 
  • Best Supporting Actor (Koh Jia Ler) 最佳男配角 (许家乐) 
  • Best Supporting Actor (Yang Shi Bin) 最佳男配角 (杨世彬) 
  • Best Original Screenplay (Anthony Chen) 最佳原著剧本 (陈哲艺) 

Leading actress Yeo Yann Yann adds, “I am very thankful for the recognition from the Golden Horse Awards. It is already an honour to be nominated. I hope that more people can get to watch Wet Season 《热带雨》 and I can’t wait to bring the movie back to Singapore in November.”

Adding to the celebration for Singapore cinema was the four Golden Horse nominations for Yeo Siew Hua's drama A Land Imagined in Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Film Score, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Effects. The film has been selected as Singapore's entry to the Academy Awards' Best International Feature Film category, previously known as the Best Foreign Language Film category.

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