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National Youth Film Awards 2019 Nominees Address Bold and Sensitive Issues Through Films

By Say Peng  /  09 Jul 2019 (Tuesday)

2019’s National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) nominees are certainly not shying away from difficult subjects. These aspiring filmmakers deep dived into controversial topics such as public nudity, sugar dating, and pitfalls of being a social media celebrity. Others took to exploring the intricate complexities of familial versus personal identity, as well as Singaporean experiences such as National Service.

These films stood out from the 446 unique submissions that were received this year with a record-breaking 303 coming from the Media Student category, affirming the role NYFA has to play as a platform for film students in Singapore. Furthermore, several award-winning directors are returning to participate in NYFA, such as Shoki Lin and Jerrold Chong, who are past NYFA winners.

“The subject matters our youth filmmakers have chosen to portray reflects the Gen Z and millennial mindset with themes that are current and tackles a search for identity. This is truly exciting as it reaffirms NYFA as a safe place that encourages youths to pursue their passions and to tell stories that they want the world to hear,” says Goh Kok Wee, Executive Director at *SCAPE.

Tackling the Unconventional

Art has always been and always will be a place for discourse on societal issues and youths are finding their place in the arts scene, using film as one of the mediums to tell their stories.

This year’s crop of NYFA nominees have taken this to the limits with films such as “BARE”, where director Martin Loh looks at naturism and questions society’s treatment of naked bodies, and “Life is Live” by Keziah Wei, which follows the journey of a live- streaming celebrity and uncovers the impact of technological advancements on human interactions in this new age. These films, in particular, were all submitted under the Media Student Documentary category.

The Open Youth category also examined themes such as citizenship and what it means to be Singaporean in Leon Cheo’s “SIN-SFO”, as well as inter-racial relationships and expectations with “Rojak Romance” by Christine Seow.

Record-Breaking Submissions

Since their inception, NYFA has always been warmly received by the film community and it is most apparent this year. The film schools have come out in full force with the highest number of entries so far compared to previous editions of NYFA, while NYFA 2019 sees the highest number of returning alumni to the competition.

A record number of 303 submissions were received in the Media Student category, an increase of close to 20% from 2018. LASALLE College of the Arts submitted the greatest number of entries with 101 submissions, beating out Nanyang Technological University who had held the record for the previous 4 years. There was also an increase in submissions from institutions such as ITEs, LASALLE College of the Arts, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and Temasek Polytechnic.

Not to be outdone, the Open Youth category features multiple returning past NYFA participants, reinforcing NYFA as a platform that allows youths to continue pursuing their passions beyond a scholastic environment.

This year’s returning participants include several award-winning directors who have made their mark internationally, such as Jerrold Chong, recipient of the NYFA 2018 Best Animated Film. Jerrold returns to NYFA 2019 fresh off his successful Cannes debut and is up for the Open Youth Best Animated Film Award this year with “Automatonomy”. Tang Kang Sheng and Yeo Zhi Qi, NYFA participants in 2018 return this year, this time earning a nomination in the Open Youth Live Action category with their film “Enlistment” that explores themes of friendship and National Service.
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