S'pore director Anthony Chen on The Breaking Ice, the ‘loneliest generation’ and the film's Singapore soul
Many of us may still remember that engulfing feeling of loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially if you are a millennial or belong to Generation Z.
That, along with an 'existential crisis', is what propelled Singaporean director Anthony Chen to make his latest film, The Breaking Ice.
"I was trying to capture a lot of the anxiety, a lot of the pain and of being lost of this current youth, this current generation," he told TNP in a round-table interview session with local media on Monday (Sept 4).
He added that he hopes people can relate to that feeling of being constantly defeated by your dreams or by society or let down by people around you or even yourself, of trying to find your place in the world and your identity.
Chen and the film's leading actress Zhou Dongyu were in Singapore to promote the film at Marina Bay Sands ahead of the gala premiere at Sands Theatre on Monday evening (Sept 4).
The Breaking Ice tells the story of the blossoming relationship among three young adults in their 20s, set over a few short days in Yanji, a border city in north China. As the title suggests, the film is set in the winter snow.
The film premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival to a seven-minute standing ovation and has earned raving reviews from international movie critics.
@tnpdigital Singapore director Anthony Chen dishes on The Breaking Ice, the ‘loneliest generation’ and the film's Singapore soul. Catch the movie in Singapore cinemas on Sept 7! #fyp #sgnews #anthonychen #zhoudongyu #thebreakingice ♬ original sound - TNP
When asked what he hopes the audience will be thinking about after leaving the theatre, Chen said his film will not give any big answers or solutions.
"[I hope] that people don't feel as lonely, that they're just alone dealing with all their anxiety," he said.
"In the film, one of the characters is dealing with mental health issues, I see that a lot.
"I don't think it's a problem just for the youth in China, I think even in Singapore, even in the workplace you feel that, especially in a society like Singapore.
"I think we're not very good at expressing ourselves and we coop up a lot inside and you feel so stuck and a big part of the film is about [that]."
Although this is Chen's first Mainland Chinese feature, it has Singapore at its heart and is a universal story.
"I would say, at least from a creative point of view, there is still a lot of Singapore soul in it," he said.
Behind the Chinese actors and setting, Chen reminded the media that the film's director, producer and writer are Singaporean.
He also proudly introduced young Singaporean musician Kin Leonn whom he recruited to score The Breaking Ice.
"This movie opened at 20,000 screens in China and all of a sudden, the music of another Singaporean artist is being showcased to the world," he said.
He also has great hopes for local filmmakers, musicians and artists to spread their wings and have bigger ambitions.
Regarding future endeavours, Chen said he is considering making a comedy next after a spate of emotional projects.
"Maybe I need to make a comedy, maybe I need to cleanse my soul, maybe I need to lighten up," he joked.
"Actually I do think I've got humour in me, I always think Ilo Ilo (his first film) is quite funny."
Would he consider making a film with Singapore's comedian director Jack Neo?
"Never say never," Chen quipped.
"Maybe I'll get Liang Xi Mei to cameo in one of my films in the future."
- The Breaking Ice opens in Singapore cinemas on Sept 7.