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Hong Huifang’s Ajoomma chosen as Singapore’s Oscars entry in the Best International Feature Film category

The highly anticipated debut feature film by director He Shuming is now in the running to be Singapore’s first film nominated in that category.

Hong Huifang’s Ajoomma chosen as Singapore’s Oscars entry in the Best International Feature Film category

Ajoomma's official Busan International Film Festival's poster. (Photo: Giraffe Pictures)

Filmmaker He Shuming could very well add another feather to his nomination cap after his debut feature film Ajoomma was officially selected as Singapore’s entry to the 95th Academy Awards (Oscars) in 2023, by the Singapore Film Commission (SFC).

The highly anticipated film about a Korean drama-obsessed widow from Singapore (played by veteran actress Hong Huifang), who is trying to find new purpose in life and ends up getting lost in Korea, will compete in the Best International Film category. It was formerly known as the Best Foreign Language Film category before it was officially changed following the 2019 Oscars.

The final shortlist for Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan 24, 2023 and the awards ceremony will take place on Mar 12, 2023.

Veteran Singapore actress Hong Huifang stars in first Singapore- South Korean feature Ajoomma, alongside many popular K-drama actors. (Photo: Ajoomma)

Ajoomma is He’s much-talked about feature directorial debut and is produced by Anthony Chen, the Golden Horse and Cannes Film Festival award-winner for Ilo Ilo. Incidentally, that film was also chosen as Singapore’s entry to the 86th Academy Awards back in 2014.

Ajoomma is also the first Singapore-South Korea co-production and is supported by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s New Director grant.

When asked what he would do if Ajoomma made the final cut and nabbed the coveted nomination, He told CNA Lifestyle: “I think I’d cry!”

“There’s going to be so much to do realistically, I cannot even imagine,” he said. “But I’d enjoy the ride!”

He added: “IMDA and SFC have been supporting me since I was a film student, and now with my debut feature! I’m very grateful to be selected, and to have their continued support as a Singaporean filmmaker.”

Ajoomma is filmmaker He Shuming's directorial debut. (Photo: He Shuming)

“Over the years, IMDA has worked with stakeholders of the media industry to develop a support system for filmmakers and Singapore media companies to nurture a growing local pool of storytellers with the capability to produce quality international content,” said Justin Ang, Assistant Chief Executive of Media, Innovation, Communications and Marketing, IMDA.

“The selection of our first-ever Singapore-South Korea co-production, Ajoomma, as Singapore’s entry for Oscars 2023 is testament that collectively, we have raised the bar on storytelling and production values. We are truly proud of our dedicated and passionate homegrown talent and hope to hear good news in March 2023.”


Ajoomma sees Singapore veteran actress Hong in her first leading role, alongside several popular K-drama names, including Jung Dong-hwan (Mine, Hotel Del Luna), Kang Hyung-suk (Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Crashing Landing On You) and Yeo Jin-goo (Hotel Del Luna, Beyond Evil). Singaporean actor Shane Pow is also in the cast, playing Hong’s son.

The film will be making its world premiere on Friday (Oct 7) at the 27th Busan International Film Festival, where it’ll be vying for the big prize in the New Currents, the main competition section of the festival.

In another recent coup, the film has also garnered four nominations at the upcoming 59th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan which will take place on Nov 19. This includes Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay for He, as well as Best Leading Actress for Hong, and Best Supporting Actor for Korean actor Jung Dong-hwan.

Said producer Chen: “After Ilo Ilo, Pop Aye and Wet Season, Giraffe Pictures is honoured to fly the flag again as Singapore’s Oscar contender with He Shuming’s charming debut Ajoomma. We are just at the start of the film’s journey and look forward to bring laughs and tears to audiences far and beyond our shores. This is definitely the Singapore film of the year to watch!”

Ajoomma opens in cinemas in Singapore on Oct 27 via Golden Village Pictures.

Source: CNA/gl