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Snow in Midsummer shines at the 60th Golden Horse Film Festival

Snow in Midsummer shines at the 60th Golden Horse Film Festival

A still from Made-with-SG film, Snow in Midsummer, supported by IMDA’s Media Talent Progression Programme’s (MTTP) grant.
A scene from Snow in Midsummer

August Pictures' debut film, Snow in Midsummer, a Malaysia-Singapore-Taiwan co-production by local producer Chow Wai Thong, is the winner of Best Sound Effects at the prestigious 60th Golden Horse Awards (Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2023). The film scored an impressive nine nominations, including Best Film, and was the first Made-with-SG film to attain such recognition. The narrative of this triumph unfolds against a backdrop of support from government bodies like the Singapore Film Commission (SFC) and IMDA’s Media Talent Progression Programme’s (MTTP) Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant (SCPG), who are paving the way for a growing trend of Southeast Asian collaborations to take global audiences by storm.

A story of courage, perseverance, and intuition

Wai Thong’s journey traces back to his roots as a video editor. Even then, his commitment to the craft was so great he would dedicate two weeks of annual leave to immerse himself in films during editions of the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF). 15 years later – on a quest for further clarity in his career – Wai Thong faced a hurdle due to the absence of a formal degree. At this challenging juncture, the then Media Education Scholarship (MES) by IMDA proved to be a lifeline, enabling Wai Thong to pursue a Masters in Film and Television at the University of Westminster, United Kingdom (UK).

I was lucky that I applied for the grant, because the scholarship helped to shape me and gave me a lot of opportunity. Fundamentally, it helped to change the way I think.

Chow Wai Thong

Executive Producer, Managing Director and Founder of August Pictures

Wai Thong, who began his professional journey as a video editor, and his colleague at work in a video editor room.
Wai Thong (right) started his career as a video editor before joining the TV industry in the early 90s.

Wai Thong devoted a year to pursuing his MES-sponsored Masters in the UK and looks back on this time as a journey of self-discovery. He sees it as a transformative period that led to a crystallisation of ideas, and a deeper understanding of himself and his career aspirations. A significant shift in mindset helped Wai Thong realise that he wanted to start his own production house, so that he could work on features, films and projects independently. After returning to Singapore in 2006, Wai Thong freelanced until he turned his realisation into reality. In 2007, he launched August Pictures to produce relatable and entertaining original content that carries a distinct Southeast Asian identity – what he fondly refers to as the “the Nanyang characteristic.” He explains, “I wanted to highlight and showcase the real Nanyang characteristics: how we talk, how we live, and the kind of stories that revolve around who we are in this multi-cultural, multiracial society. I feel this is very Southeast Asian, and only seen in Singapore and Malaysia.”

Actress Wan Fang and director Chong Keat Aun on the set of Snow in Midsummer, a Made-with-SG film supported by IMDA's grant.
August Pictures' debut film, a Malaysia-Singapore-Taiwan co-production, stars Wan Fang (left) as Ah Eng.

As the Executive Producer, Managing Director and Founder of August Pictures, Wai Thong works on stories he believes in and relies on his intuition to select a project. When he first heard about Snow in Midsummer from Malaysian filmmaker Chong Keat Aun (Best New Director, Golden Horse Awards in 2020), he instinctively knew it would be the debut film of his video production house. Recognising it as the right story with the right team, director, government support and funding , Wai Thong says, “I had this gut feeling that Snow in Midsummer would work and that it is a subject that would turn out great.”

A tale of heartbreak, hope and history

Snow in Midsummer unfolds against the historical canvas of the 13 May 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur, capturing the essence of a Chinese family grappling with the consequences of this tumultuous period. To embed multicultural and Nanyang characteristics in the film, locating an authentic 1950s street and transporting an elephant to the shooting location were just a few hurdles that Wai Thong and his co-production team successfully navigated. “The purity of wanting to tell a good story, do a good story, and do our best…was what I felt from the producers, directors, and the talents.” Snow in Midsummer boasts a diverse cast, including Singapore’s Peter Yu, Malaysia’s Pauline Tan and Alvin Wong, Wan Fang and Cheng Jen-shuo.

The film's world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival earned the Special Mention Musa Cinema & Arts Award, distinguishing itself as the only Chinese-language film out of 10 to be featured at the 20th edition of the Giornate degli Autori. The film had its Asian premiere at the 60th Golden Horse Awards as one of the festival’s opening films and was up for awards in nine categories.

Wai Thong takes immense pride in Snow in Midsummer's accomplishments, viewing such awards as encouragement for good work. Commenting on the nominations and their win for Best Sound Effects at the Golden Horse Awards, Wai Thong says, “We feel honoured and very blessed, and I feel that the effort and vision we had for this film has been realised. We believed in it, we got it done. All parties from Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan shared a common vision, and we knew that this film will work.” However, he underscores the importance of the storytelling journey, emphasising that it's about telling a compelling story rather than chasing awards in the film industry.

The team behind Made-with-SG film, Snow in Midsummer, at the 80th Venice International Film Festival.
Wai Thong (far right) at this year’s Giornate degli Autori, for the Made-with-SG film’s world premiere

A bridge to regional collaboration, cinematic partnerships and cultural exchange

Wai Thong attributes the recent success of Singaporean cinema, evident in internationally acclaimed films like Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell and Tiger Stripes, to government grants in Singapore, with a special acknowledgment of IMDA's SCPG. August Pictures, serving as the first major investor for Snow in Midsummer, exemplifies the crucial role played by government grants in realising co-produced projects.

The SCPG is an integral component of IMDA's MTTP. It provides essential financial backing and fosters collaboration between Southeast Asian and Singaporean talents. Wai Thong underscores the transformative impact of the SCPG, stating, "When you have the right project with the right amount of funding and the right structure, you can elevate the film to a different level." This not only promotes the individual film, but also raises the bar for emerging filmmakers in Singapore. Offering up to S$300,000 per project, the SCPG supports talent and fosters local, regional and international collaborations, opening doors to a world of new opportunities.

Hear from other film and media industry players who have produced content with the support of SCPG.

Hear from industry players who have benefitted from SCPG.

For aspiring filmmakers in Singapore, the grant offers support and funding to embark on your own journey and elevate the art of filmmaking in Southeast Asia.


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