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Day 1 at [sin]efest - SANDCASTLE dir Boo Junfeng

The first edition of the UK's largest independent Singapore Film Festival kicked off yesterday.

With a complimentary buffet, complimentary drinks and approachable staff this may well be one of the cosiest and more relaxed film festivals I have attended. 

I got the chance to interview Boo Junfeng, the director of the opening film, SANDCASTLE and curator for the festival and Joshua Tan, the main actor of SANDCASTLE, who currently studies in London.

Boo Junfeng is a softly spoken young looking guy who carries out a conversation with measured words. I have filmed the interview and will post a few snippets, as well, as post the whole interview. I will do the same with Joshua Tan.

The crowd increased by drips and drabs (the weather was typical London weather) and soon there was a real buzz of conversation and excitement.

The cinema was quickly filled so Brian Tan (from Creative [sin]energy) and Steven Flynn (from Flynn Film Co.), both organisers of the event, got the opportunity to thank their sponsors and supporters and bring out the director to introduce the film. A quick introduction from Boo and hope that the audience would enjoy the film. 

SANDCASTLE tells the story of En, an 18-year-old, just before his mandatory enlistment into the Singaporean Army, who experiences a series of events and disclosures that threaten to change his world view forever; death of his grandfather, his grandmother's Alzheimer's, his mother dating a military commander, his first love and the past that has remained hidden till now.

The film touches upon a very sensitive, taboo period in Singaporean history. En's deceased father had been exiled in Malaysia due to the fact that he would not give up his principles - from the times of his student leadership. It is essentially a broken family that have managed to remain together by not addressing the issue that really has fractured them, refusal to face up to the past and accept it. Although En's grandmother is sinking ever so slowly into Alzheimer's, her memory of her son, Boon, and wanting him back near her never goes away. En, who never got to meet his father apart from old photographs, wants to understand the circumstances that have deprived him from a father, specially now that he is embarking in his first love. His grandfather is the one that sets him off on this journey of past history, nearly revealing key memories, but unfortunately dies which makes En more determined. 

With a great sensibility and patience, this film tries to understand and discuss what no one dares to touch on; memory, not only personal, but also social, can be a way to deal with the past for a better future.

Great performances from Joshua Tan, a first time actor with no previous experience and the actress that plays his mother, Elena Chia, a well-known Chinese Opera performer. And an incredibly assured debut from rookie director Boo Junfeng. 

My first experience of a Singaporean film could not have been better. I urge you to see it; there's a reason why this film got picked to be the first Singaporean film to play at Cannes' Critic's Week! 


A great article about the production of the film along with an interview with the director can be found here -




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About Tania Martins

Tania Martins

Filmmaker. Student. Blogger. Film Critic. Festival Organiser. Freelance Cameraperson. Explorer. Longboarder. WELCOME!


United Kingdom

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