The Arts

Anthony Chen

Filmmaker Anthony Chen is the standard bearer of contemporary Singaporean cinema


Anthony Chen’s debut feature film Ilo Ilo premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it became the first Singaporean film to win the prestigious Caméra d'Or. Less prestigious, though still impressive, is that over eight years since its premiere, Ilo Ilo still holds a 100 per cent score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Neither of these are easy feats, and yet Chen’s very first feature film managed both. It’s a testament to the keen eye of the prodigious young director, who is 37 years old in 2021, and who represents the burgeoning contemporary cinema of his home country Singapore.

In 2019, Chen released the follow-up to Ilo Ilo—his second feature film Wet Season—to critical acclaim, proving his worth to Singaporean cinema yet again. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Chen participated in The Year of the Everlasting Storm, an anthology of seven short films by seven different directors from around the world. He contributed Break Away, about a young married couple struggling to look after their young son during lockdown. Chen is looking to shoot his third feature film, We Are All Strangers, in 2022.

“For me, making a film is never about the awards, festivals or accolades. My films always end up being quite personal and about me confronting my own work. I’m my own harshest critic.” 

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Did you know?

Anthony Chen directed Break Away remotely from his basement in London, working with actors and crew in Beijing. 

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