Objectifs Chat: Boo Junfeng
Trained in film schools in Singapore and Spain, Boo Junfeng is one of Singapore’s notable young filmmakers. His works often centre around themes of identity, memory and sexuality. His debut feature film, Sandcastle, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week in 2010, garnered several awards from film festivals around the world, and was listed by The Wall Street Journal as one of Asia’s most notable films that year.Since 2005, his short films have also won him acclaim at the Singapore International Film Festival. He was accorded the Young Artist Award in 2009 and the Singapore Youth Award in 2011 by the Government of Singapore.
His short film, Keluar Baris, is currently featured on SGFilm Channel (www.youtube.com/sgfilmchannel), an online channel that showcases the creative and film talents from Singapore through their short films. The channel is presented by the Singapore Film Commission, Media Development Authority of Singapore and managed by Objectifs. Puiyee from Objectifs chats with Junfeng to find out more about his thought process behind his works.
Puiyee: It’s been almost 6 years since you last filmed your short film, Keluar Baris. How does it feel to see it being shown on YouTube, where people from all over the world are now able to watch this film?
Junfeng: I think it’s great that the film gets a new lease of life on the Internet! Even though the film was made 6 years ago, its themes remain pertinent today.
Puiyee: The main character in Keluar Baris has to deal with the struggle between national duties and his personal freedom. How did you come up with the story of this film? Was this something that you could relate to?
Junfeng: It was semi-autobiographical in that I also came back from an exchange programme in Spain and had to enlist shortly after. In Keluar Baris, I wanted to present that transition that I went through. I think there’s a sense of helplessness which many Singaporeans can relate to.
Puiyee: Your films are usually centered around themes of sexuality and identity. Are you naturally drawn to these subject matters while making your films? Or would you say that such themes inspire you to say something through your films?
Junfeng: These are themes that matter to me, so it only makes sense that I explore them in my work.
Puiyee: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced as a filmmaker based in Singapore? Is there anything that you hope it can be improved in the scene here?
Junfeng: It is often difficult to position a Singaporean film at the international marketplace because we have yet to establish a form of national cinema. It takes more than a few good films to do that, and as the scene here matures and diversifies, I think we are slowly getting there.
Puiyee: If you are given a chance to work with a filmmaker of your choice, who would you work with and why?
Junfeng: There are many I would love to “serve coffee” to… Lee Chang Dong, Ang Lee, the Dardenne brothers and maybe Francis Ford Coppola when he was making Apocalypse Now. These are filmmakers whom I look up to.
Puiyee: Are there any projects/films that you are working on right now? Will you be able to share it with us?
Junfeng: I am working on my second feature film titled Apprentice. The project has been to Rotterdam Cinemart and I am currently developing it with help from the Jerusalem Film Lab. We hope to be able to go into production later this year.