Meet two young Singaporean filmmakers supporting film talent in Southeast Asia
Caption: Filmmakers Kris Ong and Tan Si En (left to right), co-founders of Momo Film Co, are mentoring young filmmakers in Southeast Asia. (Photo: Momo Film Co)

Meet two young Singaporean filmmakers supporting film talent in Southeast Asia

As someone who appreciates artistic expression in all forms, all mediums have fascinated me, but none as much as filmmaking. Hoping to uncover a personal talent, I took an introductory filmmaking class at university. What I discovered though, was that filmmaking was not for me, and I went away with newfound respect for young creatives who doggedly pursue a career in the craft. 

Trying to break through the competitive Southeast Asian film market can be a daunting task for independent filmmakers in the region. To give their peers a helping hand, two young, up-and-coming Singaporean filmmakers, Tan Si En and Kris Ong, have started a new mentorship programme for fellow filmmakers.

Tan, a film producer, has worked on acclaimed productions such as Anthony Chen’s award-winning Wet Season, and POP AYE by Kirsten Tan, which won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival 2017. Ong is a writer and director based in Singapore. Her latest short film, Sunday, had its global premiere at the Palm Springs International ShortFest 2019.

After some years in the industry, they noticed that emerging Southeast Asian filmmakers faced difficulties in producing and distributing their films. To address this, the two friends co-founded the boutique production company Momo Film Co in 2018.

Momo Film Co works with emerging filmmakers across the region to develop culturally distinct works for a global audience. One example is Singaporean film director Nelson Yeo’s Mary, Mary, So Contrary, a short film the company supported, which has attracted attention at international film festivals.

This time, the duo are taking their mission further. They are partnering the Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film to launch the first Objectifs Short Film Incubator.

The four-week-long mentorship programme will have five selected participants from Southeast Asia develop their original short film scripts, guided by two mentors – award-winning Cambodian-French filmmaker and producer Davy Chou, and pioneer Thai female film director Pimpaka Towira. The programme also allows participants to tap into the networks of Objectifs, Momo Film Co and the mentors to establish a foothold in the industry.

Applications for the inaugural incubator programme closed earlier last month, and the response was overwhelming, says Tan. “The entries came from filmmakers with diverse backgrounds, and across the region. Each of their short film submission presents a different perspective and it’s all very exciting. Together with our mentors, we hope to select participants with compelling and courageous visions.”

On the decision to launch the incubator initiative, Objectif’s senior manager Leong Puiyee says: “Short films offer emerging filmmakers a dynamic format in which to experiment freely and find their style and voice. The Objectifs Short Film Incubator, presented in partnership with Momo Film Co and various industry leaders, marks an exciting new milestone in our long-term commitment to the importance of the short film medium and stories from Southeast Asia.”

Find out more about Momo Film Co and the Objectifs Short Film Incubator here.

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