Yeo The First
"A Land Imagined" wins the Pardo d'oro
First time for a Singaporean movie at the Concorso internazionale and a first victory. With A Land Imagined, your record is one from one. That's perfect.
Well, I am quite speechless. I am overjoyed! I would have never imagined to be competing in such a legendary Festival like Locarno, and winning this award...it was one of my wildest dreams.
How important is this award for Singaporean cinema?
I think that the Pardo d'oro represents a lot. I do not know how to speak for Singaporean cinema, but this is the biggest deal of my life until yet. I hope it could inspire others, too.
And how important is Locarno Festival for South East Asia?
The Locarno Festival is a big recognition for our cinema. For me it has always been important to push cinematic boundaries and to make new cinema; the Locarno Festival has always represented all this to me.
You are part of a collective called 13 Little Pictures, based on “the spirit of collaboration and the hope of creating films with unique directorial visions”. How much is A Land Imagined based on this vision?
In the context I come from, in the South-East Asia region, cinema is still very young. We have to support each other and collaborate, just like in my movie: I received the help of so many filmmakers, in every small and big role. I hope we will still be able to grow and to promote. Together.
What was the most complicated phase in your movie's production?
Writing a good story, a good script is always difficult. But the toughest job was to develop a subject about the people I needed to represent in Singapore, without exploiting them. I wanted to showcase their dreams, their fears, their love, their pains and their joy. And that was the most complicated thing to do.
Your movie is based on two levels – the rich city of Singapore against the poverty of people working on construction sites, for example. Is this the way to represent a country like yours?
My film moves between different realms while the characters slide from one stage to another, and this is really something I feel about the context I come from, Singapore. It is a very interesting place because it is shaping and reshaping itself again; a city that feels a bit like a dream to me.
Which directors were a model to you?
It's hard to say which directors were a model to me for this movie, but I was generally inspired by the cinema which is very close to Singapore's context: the great masters from Taiwanian cinema's new wave, for example.
And how much is your vision based on your studies in philosophy?
My studies have influenced most of my work and my life. I have always had elements of reflection – things to think about, philosophically speaking. Things I cannot escape.
Who is the first person you are going to call to tell you won?
Do I have to choose only one person to call? (laughs) Well, probably my producer Fran Borgia who believed in this project from the very first moment and stand by me during all this time. But then I will call also my parents.
Finally, about your future, is the Pardo d'oro making things easier for you or more difficolt?
I hope it will easier! I mean, this award is something that pushes myself further, to make better works and new cinema. But I also know the Pardo d'oro will help me to be a better filmmaker. Thank you.Mattia Bertoldi