Mark Lee and Peter Yu win acting awards at Ho Chi Minh City International Film Festival

admin 2024/04/17 10:49

Maureen Koh – The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Local actor Mark Lee and his family were having dinner with friends at Canopy HortPark on April 13 when he received a WhatsApp message from screenwriter Michelle Chang: “Hi Mark. You won for Best Actor at the Ho Chi Minh City International Film Festival.” 

His co-star Peter Yu received a similar message from Ms Chang the same day: He had won the Best Supporting Actor award.

The two play middle-aged fathers who bond over their love for their daughters in the Mandarin and Hokkien film, Wonderland, directed by award-winning Singaporean film-maker Chai Yee Wei.

Lee, 55, told The New Paper (TNP): “I was surprised, and I think the news didn’t really register in my mind… I was like, orh, I won Best Actor. It was only when I reached home and settled down that it hit me.”

It is Lee’s first international film award. He was previously nominated for Best Leading Actor at the Golden Horse Awards in 2020 for the comedy-drama Number 1.

Lee said: “I’m really grateful to everyone, from the director to the cast and crew.”

Yu was out running errands when the messages came in. “This is my first international acting award for a feature film,” he said.

Wonderland is one of five films Yu had done in 2023, three of which made their mark at international festivals and award ceremonies. “But it feels especially good to win an individual award,” said the veteran actor, who turned 56 earlier in April. 

He last won Best Actor for his role in The Crematorium Man at the 2018 Canberra Short Film Festival.

Eleven films and their respective casts were in the running in the Southeast Asia Film category at the Ho Chi Minh International Film Festival, which took place from April 6 to 13.

In an earlier interview, Chai said Wonderland was born of several real-life experiences and events that he had witnessed in his youth.

The film premiered at the San Diego Asian Film Festival last November. It picked up the Local Jury Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January.

In a WhatsApp message to TNP on April 13 night, Chai said: “This showed that our Singaporean actors have the ability to win over audiences and jury from around the world, from (the) US to Ho Chi Minh City.

“And I think it is incredible that I have two of the best Singaporean actors who won the acting awards from such a strong line-up of international movies. So grateful.”

Wonderland is set to hit local cinemas on Aug 8. THE NEW PAPER