Already an art house hit in France and his native Singapore, Anthony Chen’s debut feature Ilo Ilo pulls inspiration from his younger experiences of family life augmented by a live in Filipino maid, set against the backdrop of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. We sat down with Anthony to discuss the performance centric return to filmmaking basics that enabled him to create an honest and sincere portrayal of Singaporean family life.

Ilo Ilo (2013)

Set in Singapore, ILO ILO chronicles the relationship between the Lim family and their newly arrived maid Teresa. Like many other Filipino women, she has come to this city in search of a better life. Her presence in the family worsens their already strained relationship. Jiale, the young and troublesome son, starts to form a unique bond with Teresa, who soon becomes an unspoken part of the family.

The problem with dramatising real life is that real life doesn’t sit nicely into a dramatic structure.

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