Ilo Ilo grosses $2.8 million, could recoup initial $700,000 budget

Film set to turn profit if it continues with its good run.

Belmont Lay| December 06, 07:21 AM

What: Homegrown film Ilo Ilo is proving for the first time that a Singaporean arthouse film can be commercially viable after winning the Camera d’Or prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival as well as four Golden Horse awards in Taiwan in November.

About 20 countries have bought the rights to the film, which is now screening in France for the 12th consecutive week as it is doing exceptionally well. It is scheduled to be released in Britain and the United States in 2014, and recently opened in Taiwan and the Philippines.

Set in Singapore in the 1990s, the film features an international cast and chronicles the relationship between a young boy and his maid from Iloilo, a province in the Philippines.


Why: Ilo Ilo’s achievements are notable due to the following reasons.

1. It is the first Singapore feature film to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival.

2. Crossing the $1 million mark at the Singapore Box office, it is the best-performing non-mainstream film in recent times. Ilo Ilo is just behind “Taxi Taxi” ($1.433 million) and “Ah Boys to Men 2” ($7.9 million). It is on track to break even and earn a small profit.

3. It debunks the longstanding belief that films are unable to achieve both critical acclaim and make money.


Who: The budget of $700,000 was partially sponsored by director Anthony Chen’s alma mater Ngee Ann Polytechnic, four private donors and the Singapore Film Commission.

A debut feature film, it received a 15-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival despite a technical glitch that caused three blackouts. Chen also received a congratulatory note on Facebook from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The film marks Chen’s third showing at Cannes.


How: The film was produced over 27 shoot days. Being semi-autobiographical, Chen was inspired by his family’s relationship with their 57-year-old Filipino domestic helper, Teresita Sajonia, 16 years ago.

Leading up to the project, Chen faced many obstacles and naysayers who doubted the seemingly mundane storyline.


Top photo from here

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