Eric Khoo

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Eric Khoo
Khoo receiving the Honorary Cyclo d'Or in 2019
Born (1965-03-27) 27 March 1965 (age 58)
Alma materUnited World College of South East Asia
City Art Institute, Sydney
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • cinematographer
Years active1990–present
Kim Eun Choo
(m. 1997)
Chinese name
Hanyu PinyinQiū Jīnhǎi

Eric Khoo Kim Hai (born 27 March 1965) is a Singaporean film director and producer who is often credited for the revival of the Singapore modern film industry.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Eric Khoo and Jeanette Aw At Books Kinokuniya, Ngee Ann City, Singapore For the DVD Premiere of Ramen Teh

Born on 27 March 1965 in Singapore, Eric Khoo was the youngest son of the 15 children of Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat[2] from his second wife Rose Marie Wee.[3] His mother, who was a cinephile, introduced him to cinema when he was three years old.[3] He later received his education at the United World College of South East Asia.[4]

Khoo's interest in film eventually led him to study cinematography at the City Art Institute in Sydney, Australia.[3]


Khoo's films Mee Pok Man and 12 Storeys have together been screened at over 60 film festivals, held all over the world including prestigious festivals such as Venice, Berlin and Rotterdam.

In 1998, 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 screened at 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.

In 2004 Khoo 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.

Khoo was a judge at the 10th Busan International Film Festival 2005 and Be With Me is the first Singaporean film to be nominated for the European Film Awards 2005. In 2006 Khoo 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 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, Khoo 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, Khoo's 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, Khoo 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. Khoo 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 Film, 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 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 Film Festival and the best film and best composer in the Muhr AsiaAfrica 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 Khoo 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 has five critically acclaimed feature films that were 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.[5] 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.[6][7] In the Room premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015 and travelled to the San Sebastián International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival and Singapore International Film Festival. It was initially unabled to be screened for commercial release in Singapore as Khoo refused to edit two scenes that exceeded the MDA's film classification guidelines.[8] Later, the subtly different 'international version' of the film was given a commercial release on February 25, 2016 after it was passed uncut with an R21 rating by the Media Development Authority.[9]

In December 2015, Mee Pok Man was restored by the Asian Film Archive for its 20th anniversary and screened at the Singapore International Film Festival. The high-resolution Digital Cinema Package version, restored from original 35mm prints, also enjoyed screenings at arthouse cinema The Projector in April and May 2016, with a panel discussion on the film's legacy.[10]

2015 also saw the release of Khoo's short film, "Cinema", as part of the omnibus, 7 Letters, to commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence.[11] In addition, Khoo released the telemovie "Wanton Mee" on okto in March, before it travelled to the Culinary Zinema section of the 63rd San Sebastian Film Festival in September and the 10th Culinary Cinema programme of the 2016 Berlinale in February, where chefs like Alexander Dressel took turns serving a menu inspired by the programme's films. "Wanton Mee", a look at the transformation of Singapore's versatile street food scene, is also screening on Singapore Airlines' inflight entertainment programming.[12]

In 2016, Khoo collaborated with some of Southeast Asia's most renowned filmmakers as part of an omnibus project commissioned by National Gallery Singapore, “Art Through Our Eyes”. This project brought together – for the first time – filmmakers Joko Anwar (Indonesia), Ho Yuhang (Malaysia), Brilliante Mendoza (Philippines), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), and Eric Khoo (Singapore).

In 2018, Khoo directed Ramen Teh, which stars Seiko Matsuda. The film premiered as the closing film of the Culinary Cinema section at the Berlin International Film Festival.[13] He also launched the Scream Asia Festival in Singapore.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Khoo in 2010

Khoo is married to Kim Eun Choo; they have four sons named Edward, James, Christopher, and Lucas.[3]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Roles Note
1990 Barbie Digs Joe Director, writer Short
1991 Hope and Requiem Director, writer Short
August Director, writer Short
1992 The Punk Rocker and... Director Short
1993 Symphony 92.4 FM Director Short
The Watchman Director Short
1994 Pain Director, producer Short
1995 Mee Pok Man Director
1997 12 Storeys Director, writer Nominated for the Un Certain Regard Award
1999 Liang Po Po: The Movie Executive producer
Stories About Love Executive producer
2000 Moments of Magic VDO Director Singapore's millennium MTV
Home VDO Director Short
2001 One Leg Kicking Writer, executive producer
2003 15: The Movie Producer
2005 Be With Me Director, writer Singapore's official entry to the 78th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
2006 Digital Sam in Sam Saek 2006: Talk to Her Director Segment: "No Day Off"
Zombie Dogs Producer
0430 Producer
2007 881 Producer Singapore's official entry to the 80th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
2008 My Magic Director, writer Singapore's official entry to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
Invisible Children Producer
2009 Darah Producer
2010 Sandcastle Producer
2011 Tatsumi Director Animated Film
Singapore's official entry to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero Director Segment
2012 23:59 Producer
2013 Ghost Child Producer
Recipe Director Telemovie
2015 In the Room Director
7 Letters Director Segment: "Cinema"
Singapore's official entry to the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
Wanton Mee Director Telemovie
2016 Apprentice Executive Producer Singapore's official entry to the 89th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
Art Through Our Eyes Writer Short: Segment Chua Mia Tee
2018 Ramen Teh Director Won the Audience Choice Award at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Film Festival
Folklore (TV series) Director 1 episode
Buffalo Boys Executive Producer
2019 Food Lore Director
Piece of Meat Writer, Co-Producer Short
2022 Food Affair with Mark Wiens Creator, Executive Producer TV Series


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eric Khoo | Infopedia". Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat". 2 March 2004. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Klug, Russell Heng Hiang (2012). Suryadinata, L. (ed.). Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume I & II. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 412–415. ISBN 9789814345217. OCLC 864303540. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  4. ^ "BBC's Mishal Husain Meets". Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  5. ^ "19th Moscow International Film Festival (1995)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  6. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Eric still can't find his Rose". The New Paper. Singapore Press Holdings. 19 April 2009. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  8. ^ Lui, John (3 December 2015). "No show for Eric Khoo's erotic film in cinemas here". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  9. ^ Lui, John (26 January 2016). "Eric Khoo's erotic drama In The Room resubmitted to MDA for classification". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  10. ^ Lui, John (13 April 2016). "20 years on, Mee Pok Man remains one of the most important Singapore films, say experts". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Loh, Genevieve Sarah (19 January 2016). "S'pore films headed to 2016 Berlin International Film Festival". TODAY. Mediacorp. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Ramen Teh". Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  14. ^ Frater, Patrick (12 September 2018). "Eric Khoo to Launch Scream Asia Festival in Singapore".

External links[edit]