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Ilo Ilo

Ilo Ilo FFF 2014
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  • Directed by: Anthony Chen
  • SINGAPORE, 2013, 99 minutes
  • In Mandarin, Tagalog, and Hokkien with English subtitles and English

Newcomer Anthony Chen’s debut feature film reveals a lived-in, character-driven domestic drama set during the Asian economic crisis. How does a global economy affect everyday lives? He shows us, through the ordinary, middle-class Singaporean Lim family—a father who not only loses his job, but risks everything in the stock market; a pregnant working wife duped by a self-improvement guru; and a spoiled, troubled schoolboy who misses his deceased grandfather. Enter the Filipino maid Terry from Ilo Ilo province, who, in hopes of a better life, has left her own child and becomes surrogate mother to her young charge; their developing relationship is the heart of the movie. Everyone has a secret, and Terry keeps them all. This semi-autobiographical film has a class-conscientiousness but is grounded by close observation of the fabric of everyday life. Chen won the Camera d’or at Cannes and is in the vanguard of new Singaporean cinema. Be sure to stay through the credits. Yeo Yan-yan as the mother was actually pregnant and she delivers. You can’t get more real.