Ilo Ilo Gala Premiere


I’m sure some of you had watched the local film Ilo Ilo already in the cinemas. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a piece of history. The film has been garnering a lot of buzz for winning the coveted Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. Ilo Ilo is also the first Singaporean feature film to win such a prestigious award.

I was very lucky to be able to attend the film’s gala premiere last Saturday at the Mastercard Theatre at Marina Bay Sands. Thanks to Remy Martin Singapore for the invites I had the chance to experience a few tear-jerking moments that are pretty priceless I would say. Remy Martin, being a french brand with glorious history, has been an official sponsor for the Cannes Film Festival for over 10 years and each year there will be a limited edition bottle created specially for the acclaimed festival. You can spot the bottles embellished in gold standing tall at the photo wall during the gala reception on the left here.

Back to the film, as many of you have known it’s about a semi-biographical story of a maid’s entry to a middle income family’s life during the 1997 financial crisis. For those who grew up with a maid, it’s an extremely relatable story. The film can easily be an actual situation that’s happening in many many households right now in Singapore. The humanistic approach might be the reason why it struck a cord with both foreign and local audience. It definitely outshines all the pretentious coming-of-age, documentary-style efforts in recent years.

IMG_8724For the gala night, the entire cast and the director Anthony Chen were present for the red carpet and post-film panel discussion. That night was not a typical gala where’s it’s all just cameras and press, guess who else made a surprise appearance? Aunty Terry, the real maid who inspired the maid in Ilo Ilo was specially flown in to witness the film’s local debut as well. It’s her first time traveling since leaving the country and probably the first time seeing a film in decades. The host of the evening also unveiled that the lead actress Yeo Yann Yann was in fact pregnant in real life while filming the movie and the day of the gala premiere is also her daughter’s one year old birthday. That was a lot to digest especially when you feel like there’re ninjas secretly cutting onions around your eyes the whole time after the film ended. But the two moments that really took the audience’s breathes away are the minute the film ended and a long standing ovation ensued and the point of time when Aunty Terry stood up to acknowledge her presence. “I don’t know what to say”, an extremely emotional Anthony Chen spoke while choking back on tears. This scene looks like it came straight out of the movie.