Eric Khoo (born 1965) is a film director from Singapore. He was introduced to the world of cinema at a very early age. The youngest son of banker Khoo Teck Puat, he was educated at United World College of South East Asia before attending City Art Institute in Sydney where he pursued cinematography. After an early foray as a comic artist, Khoo began his career with short films when he directed films like When the Magic Dies (1985), Barbie Digs Joe (1990), and August (1991), before branching out into feature films with the acclaimed Mee Pok Man (1995), 12 Storeys (1997), Be with Me (2005), My Magic (2008) and Tatsumi (2011). He has also produced and/or directed made-for-television films, music videos and television advertisements, and runs the production companies Zhao Wei Films / Gorylah Pictures.
In February 1999, Khoo was named in Asiaweek magazine as one of 25 exceptional Asians for his influence on film and television. In June of the same year, he received the Singapore Youth Award in recognition of his contribution to the country's film industry. Khoo is also the first recipient of the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award for Film in 1997. In 2008, Khoo was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Minister of Culture.
Khoo's films explore a set of hard-hitting themes, including a sense of alienation in contemporary Singapore, nostalgia for a humane past, and the centrality and complexity of human sexuality. Influenced by Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Khoo often features a complex anti-hero as the protagonist of his films: the lonely old man who commits suicide on his birthday in Symphony 92.4, the pork-seller in Carcass who takes comfort in television dramas and regular sex with a prostitute, the outcast necrophilic hawker in Mee Pok Man, the model citizen who breaks down in 12 Storeys – all dysfunctional individuals struggling to cope in a rigid and yet fast-paced society administered by harsh norms. Khoo usually captures grittier, less sanitised images of Singapore's underbelly that contrast starkly with the projected images of tourism-hungry Singapore. Yet, Khoo possesses the remarkable ability to invest tremendous aesthetic beauty into the dilapidated back alleys, crumbling old buildings, and seedy prostitute dens, without trivialising them. In many ways, Khoo is a public intellectual who, through his films, raises a critical awareness among his audience of their own conditions of existence, or at least of other people's conditions of existence.
Mee Pok Man, 12 Storeys, Be with Me, My Magic and Tatsumi
In September 2014, Khoo announced that he will release a drama anthology, In the Room, in 2015. Exploring themes of love and sensuality, the film will star Hong Kong actress Josie Ho, Japanese adult-film actress Shou Nishino, and actor Koh Boon Pin, who starred in Khoo's 12 Storeys. In the Room will also feature a homage to controversial cabaret dancer Rose Chan, the subject of a biopic that was first announced in 2009 but is still under development. In addition, 2015 will see the release of Khoo's short film as part of an omnibus to commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence.