Singapore slings new wave of pix

'Low budget, high concept' pix are month's flavor, Foo sez

SINGAPORE — The B.O. success of homegrown pic “Return to Pontiniak” heralds a higher profile for local filmmaking.Tackling modern subjects in new ways, or looking at ancient tales with a modern edge, local filmmakers have been flowering. With the controversial “A Sharp Pencil” and student production “Hype” hitting screens this month, “low budget, high concept” movies are flavor of the month in Singapore, producer Juan Foo says.

Digital-to-35mm feature “Pontiniak,” from Vacant Film, has already recouped its S$150,000 ($83,000) budget, thanks to a sellout three-week run across four theaters.

Pic is a modern interpretation of an ancient Malay supernatural folk tale, and Foo attributes the pic’s success to its new take on an old tale. Pic gets a VCD release in the next few weeks and is set for release in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Meanwhile, Under Pressure Pictures’ “A Sharp Pencil” debuted Aug. 24. Written, directed and produced by Gallen Mei, the film has been with the censors since it April, its original release date.

Dubbed a psychological thriller, it’s the first local pic to receive an NC-16 rating.

“Some scenes were taken out due to ‘inappropriate vulgarity,’ ” says associate producer Eric Lim.

Mei’s previous movie, “23.59 Friday Night,” is still banned in Singapore.Also released this month is romantic comedy “Hype,” which is set in the advertising industry. Produced by N.U. Studios, the movie arm of the National U. of Singapore Center for the Arts, “Hype” was shot digitally, having been awarded a $2,700 short film grant by the Singapore Film Commission.

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