The 76th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) showcased Singapore’s flourishing film industry, through films like Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, Tiger Stripes, and The Breaking Ice. These three highly acclaimed Made with SG films are proof of the region's filmmaking maturity in terms of craft, creativity, and production value. At the heart of this cinematic transformation lies a wave of fresh talent who, armed with innovative ideas, cutting-edge technologies, and unwavering determination, are redefining the landscape. Among these gems of Singapore’s film industry are Mark Song, Xander Toh, and Kin Leonn, each a maestro in their respective fields. All three individuals are beneficiaries of IMDA’s Southeast Asian Co-production Grant, now known as the Long-form Content grant.
A new wave of talent shaping the future of Singapore’s film industry
Both Mark and Xander, part of the local post-production team from Mocha Chai Laboratories, played pivotal roles in the success of Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, which won the prestigious Caméra d'Or at the 76th Cannes Film Festival. The award recognises excellence in a filmmaker’s debut feature film. This regional collaboration was produced by Singaporean producer and screenwriter, Jeremy Chua, and directed by Vietnamese filmmaker Pham Thien An.
Mark, an accomplished senior colourist and finishing artist at Mocha Chai Laboratories, was responsible for colour grading the film. Mark’s attention to detail and exceptional colour grading skills were the perfect complement to the film’s symbolic ambience. To illustrate this point, Mark mentioned a particularly memorable rain scene that required colour correcting from day to night.
I painted out individual rain drops that were a bit too bright, to make sure they didn’t give away the light shining off camera.
Xander, the audio director of Mocha Chai Laboratories, is known for his remarkable sound engineering skills in local media production. For Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, Xander’s extraordinary, layered sound design brought life to the narrative’s seemingly quiet scenes, artfully blending competing inputs from livestock, birdsong, wind, dripping water, and radio chatter.
In The Breaking Ice, directed by Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen, Kin’s emotive and poignant synths added an ethereal dimension to the film's captivating narrative. In complete harmony with the director’s vision to overlay the story with music that amplified the beauty of the wintery landscape, Kin said, “The Breaking Ice is the kind of film that’s really aligned with my style; a subtle ambient style that’s supposed to support the film rather than grab your attention.” The Breaking Ice made its world premiere in May at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it received a six-minute standing ovation.
Supporting the growth of the industry
While there is no doubt that Singapore’s cinematic renaissance is well on its way, ensuring its vitality, diversity, and continuity requires a sound support structure. Industry leaders like producers Fran Borgia and Jeremy Chua emphasise the importance of support from organisations like IMDA for Singapore media. IMDA's Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant, now known as the Long-form Content Grant, empowers filmmakers and producers to undertake transformative works of art, offering opportunities for rising talent to make their mark on the global stage.
According to Sam Chua, a producer at Pōtocol, despite our size, Singapore has a key resource – our people. The IMDA grant enables talented professionals in the Singapore film industry to embark on projects that are a combination of local and international talent, hence allowing an exchange of skills to grow in their careers. Similarly, Jeremy, founder of Pōtocol, shared that the grant helped him pursue ambitious productions with bigger budgets and esteemed collaborators. He added that access to regional resources, talent and expertise gives filmmakers a better chance for success.
The support from IMDA also scaled films into international co-productions, as highlighted by Fran Borgia, founder of Akanga Film Asia. The Spanish-born, Singapore-based producer’s recent film, Tiger Stripes, won the Grand Prize at the Cannes International Critics’ Week. While expressing his appreciation for the invaluable role IMDA played in this achievement, Fran said:
It is always very moving when something you have helped create resonates with so many people around the world. It makes our work very meaningful.
Making a mark in the global film industry
The passion, dedication, and innovation exhibited by emerging talent, trailblazing producers, and their regional collaborative teams resulted in the Singapore flag flying high at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Their combined efforts, coupled with IMDA’s support, have propelled Singapore’s film industry onto the global stage and will serve to inspire future generations of filmmakers.
Learn more about how IMDA supports the local media and film ecosystem through the Singapore Film Commission (SFC), and be a part of the exciting journey of cinematic storytelling by participating in Singapore Media Festival 2023 or the next content grant Call-for-Proposal here.
The Gems of Singapore’s Film Industry
Mark Song, senior colourist and finishing artist at Mocha Chai Laboratories, has colour graded award-winning international films such as Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Caméra d'Or, Cannes Film Festival 2023) Coming Home (Audience Choice, Beijing Children's Film Festival 2022) and Nothing in The Cries of Cicadas (Best Documentary Short, Golden Horse Awards 2021).
Mark discovered his passion for colour grading while initially pursuing a career in video editing. Having decided to focus on this niche specialty, Mark has made a name for himself as a Dolby Vision and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve certified specialist.
Xander Toh, audio director at Mocha Chai Laboratories, has contributed to renowned projects such as Crazy Rich Asians and Geylang (nominee for the best sound design at the 59th Golden Horse Awards).
Working with sound designers Chong Xin Ying and Alwyn Tay on Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, Xander further showcased his prowess in creating compelling soundscapes.
Kin Leonn, a masterful artist, and producer, made his feature debut by composing all the original music for the film, The Breaking Ice.
With a unique blend of textured electronics, ambient piano, field recordings, and arpeggiated excursions, Kin's compositions project a purpose, building up through swelling instrumentation, interlocking harmonies, and repetitive melodies.