Anthony Chen’s first English-language movie makes world debut at Sundance Film Festival

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Singapore film-maker Anthony Chen’s English-language feature debut, the drama Drift, was launched at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday to a sold-out room and a mostly positive reception.

Attending the world premiere were cast members like English actress Cynthia Erivo and American actress Alia Shawkat. Producers Peter Spears, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed and Solome Williams were there as well as screenwriters Susanne Farrell and Alexander Maksik, along with Singaporean executive producer Teoh Yi Peng.

Chen, 38, introduced Drift to the Sundance audience at Park City, Utah by calling the film “a labour of love”.

“Everyone who was involved put a lot of themselves into it, “ he said.

In a text message to The Straits Times, Chen called the premiere an “emotional” event.

“When the lights came on, I saw many in the audience in tears. It was especially moving to see the emotions in the film translated in such a visceral way. The response we have had - we could not have asked for more,” he said.

Chen was invited to screen the film in the Premieres section, which is reserved for “more established film-makers who share the independent spirit”. Films are selected “on the basis of their compelling stories and innovative approaches”, according to a guide at the festival’s website. About 15 films from the United States and around the world fill the section each year.

Drift is Chen’s third feature and his first in English. His previous films, the dramas Ilo Ilo (2013) and Wet Season (2019), involved a mix of languages, including Mandarin, Hokkien and Tagalog. Drift is also his first film to debut in the United States. Ilo Ilo and Wet Season premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto Internatio...

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