Eric Khoo

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For the World Scout Committee member, see Eric Khoo Heng-Pheng.
Eric Khoo
Chinese 邱金海

Eric Khoo put Singapore on the international film map with his first feature film “Mee Pok Man” (1995), picking up prizes at Fukuoka, Pusan and Singapore. His second feature “12 Storeys” (1997) won the Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award and the UOB Young Cinema Award at the 10th Singapore International Festival, and the Golden Maile Award for Best Picture at the 17th Hawaii International Film Festival. More importantly “12 Storeys” was the first Singaporean film to be invited officially to participate in the 50th Cannes Film Festival (1997).

Mee Pok Man and 12 Storeys have together been screened at over 60 film festivals, held all over the world including Ivy League festivals such as Venice, Berlin and Rotterdam.

In 1998, Eric Khoo was ranked as one of the 25 exceptional trend makers of Asia by Asiaweek magazine and in the following year was included into Asiaweek’s leaders for the millennium issue. He was an Executive Producer for the local comedy hit, “Liang Po Po – The Movie” (1999), and “One Leg Kicking” (2001), which were both the highest grossing local movies for their respective years in Singapore. He also produced “15” (2003) directed by Royston Tan, which has been invited to the Venice Film Festival (2003) and Sundance (2004). His TV work includes being Executive Producer of “DRIVE”, an anthology series for the Television Corporation of Singapore (1998), and “Seventh Month” (2004), a highly acclaimed TV horror series for Channel U (SPH Mediaworks). These productions served as a platform for grooming young talented filmmakers.

Some of his notable achievements include being the first recipient of the National Arts Councils Young Artist Award for Film in 1997 and together with James Toh and Lucilla Teoh they wrote the White Paper which resulted in the formation of the Singapore Film Commission. Eric was conferred the Singapore Youth Awards (Individual) in 1999 for his dedication to film-making and contributions to society. In 2004 Eric directed his third feature Be With Me which was selected as the opening film for the Directors’ Fortnight Cannes 2005. The film has since won several awards overseas and has been invited to the Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival amongst others. It has also received international distribution including the US and Europe with glowing reviews in the French media when it opened in October 2005.

Eric was a judge at the 10th Pusan International Film Festival 2005 and Be With Me is the first Singaporean film to be nominated for the European Film Awards 2005. In 2006 Eric executive produced Royston Tan’s second feature “4:30” and was invited to direct for the Jeonju Digital Film Festival in Korea - “No Day Off” the story of an Indonesian maid. He was awarded the 2006 Singapore Youth Awards Medal Of Commendation and he was the first Singapore director whose films were featured in a retrospective in Korea. The Seoul Independent Film Festival paid this tribute to him.

In 2007, Eric was appointed as a board member of NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia. He produced Royston Tan’s “881” a box office hit and received the highest arts honor the Cultural Medallion by the President of Singapore in the same year. In 2008, Eric was awarded the (chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des letters) from the French Minister of Culture and his feature film, My Magic was selected for Cannes official selection main competition. It is distributed in France by ARP and Wild bunch for international sales. My Magic picked up the best film award at Fribourg International Film Festival and was voted best film of 2008 by Le Monde.

In 2009, Eric entered into a partnership with Infinite Frameworks to form a new company, Gorylah, specializing in the production of genre films. Gorylah’s maiden effort, Darah, went on to win the Best Actress award at the 2009 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. Eric executive produced Boo Jun Feng’s first feature film, Sandcastle. The film was selected for 2010 Critic’s Week at Cannes. Centre Pompidou in Paris held an Eric Khoo retrospective in 2010 and he was featured in Phaidon Books, Take 100 - The Future of Flim, 100 new directors. Eric was President of the Jury for the International Competition at the 63rd edition of the Locarno International Film Festival in 2010.

Tatsumi, based on the life and short stories of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, is Eric Khoo’s first animation feature which premiered at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and world sales is handled by The Match Factory. Tatsumi won best animated feature at the Sitges Flim Festival and the best film and best composer in the Muhr Asia/Africa Awards at the 8th Dubai International Film Festival. It made its North American premiere at The Museum of Modern Art ( MoMA ). In the same year his production 23:59, an army paranormal film, was number one at the Singapore box office. In 2012 Eric was Jury President at the Asian Film Awards and Rotterdam International Film Festival. He was the head of the Jury at Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival 2013.

Khoo's films[edit]

According to Dr Kenneth Paul Tan:[1]

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[edit]

Khoo is famous for his five critically acclaimed feature films that have been screened at film festivals all over the world: Mee Pok Man (1995), 12 Storeys (1997), Be with Me (2005), My Magic (2008) and Tatsumi (2011). Mee Pok Man won prizes in Singapore, Fukuoka and Pusan. It was also entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.[2] 12 Storeys won him the Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award and the UOB Young Cinema Award at the 10th Singapore International Film Festival, and the Golden Maile Award for Best Picture at the 17th Hawaii International Film Festival. 12 Storeys was also the first Singapore film to be invited to take part in the Cannes Film Festival. Be With Me opened the Directors' Fortnight at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, while My Magic was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and was voted as one of the top five films of that year by Le Monde. Most recently, Tatsumi, based on manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi's memoir, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

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, up and coming Korean actor Choi Woo-shik, 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.[3][4] 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.[5]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Roles Note
1990 Barbie Digs Joe Director, writer Short
1991 Hope and Requiem Director, writer Short
1991 August Director, writer Short
1992 The Punk Rocker and... Director Short
1993 Symphony 92.4 FM Director Short
1993 The Watchman Director Short
1994 Pain Director, producer Short
1995 Mee Pok Man Director
1997 12 Storeys Director, writer Chinese: 十二楼; pinyin: Shi'er lou
1999 Liang Po Po: The Movie Executive producer
1999 Stories About Love Executive producer
2000 Moments of Magic VDO Director Singapore's millennium MTV
2000 Home VDO Director Short
2001 One Leg Kicking Writer, executive producer
2003 15: The Movie Producer
2005 Be With Me Director, writer
2006 Digital Sam in Sam Saek 2006: Talk to Her Director Segment: No Day Off
2006 Zombie Dogs Producer
2006 0430 Producer
2007 881 Producer
2008 My Magic Director, writer
2008 Invisible Children Producer
2009 Darah Producer
2010 Sandcastle Producer
2011 Tatsumi Director
2011 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero Director Segment
2012 23:59 Producer
2013 Ghost Child Producer
2013 Recipe Director Telemovie
2015 In the Room Director Post Production
2015 Apprentice Producer Post Production
2015 "Cinema" - 7 Letters Director Post Production
2015 "Wanton Mee" Director Post Production

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tan, Kenneth Paul (2005). "About Eric Khoo". Inaugural Forum on Asian Cinema. Asian Film Archive website. 
  2. ^ "19th Moscow International Film Festival (1995)". MIFF. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Lui, John (3 September 2014). "Eric Khoo's new movie to feature sex, nudity and a Japanese porn star". The Straits Times (Singapore Press Holdings). Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Eric still can't find his Rose". The New Paper (Singapore Press Holdings). 19 April 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Chan, Boon (20 August 2014). "One film for Singapore's 50th year from seven top local directors, including Eric Khoo and Jack Neo". The Straits Times (Singapore Press Holdings). Retrieved 3 September 2014. 

External links[edit]