The Singapore Film Commission has selected director Boo Junfeng’s film “Apprentice” as the country’s official submission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the best foreign-language film category.
Mr. Boo’s film is a psychological drama about a young correctional officer who is transferred to Singapore’s top prison, where he develops a friendship with the chief executioner.
“It’s a huge honor, and I am very thankful that the Singapore Film Commission has selected “Apprentice” as Singapore’s entry to the Oscars,” Mr. Boo said in a statement. “We have been very encouraged by the response to the film in Singapore and around the world, and this news comes as another big boost for us,” he said.
“Apprentice” received strong reviews at its premiere in May in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival. The film had a successful run this summer in Singapore, where it played for more than eight weeks. The film currently is screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it will have its Asian festival premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in October.
The Singapore Film Commission’s director, Joachim Ng, praised the film. “Apprentice” was selected because “it explores complex and sensitive themes while preserving an honest insight to the characters’ internal conflict and emotions,” Mr. Ng said in the same statement. “We believe the film will resonate with international audiences,” he added. “Films like ‘Apprentice’ continue to showcase the quality works by Singaporean filmmakers.”
“Apprentice” is the second feature film by Mr. Boo, following “Sandcastle,” which held its premiere at the International Critics’ Week in Cannes in 2010.
The Academy’s foreign-language film nominees are decided in two phases, beginning with a shortlist of nine films selected by a committee. That list is later narrowed to five nominated films, which are voted on by all Academy members who have screened them.
A Singaporean film has never been nominated for an Academy Award in the foreign-language film category. The Oscar ceremony will be held in Hollywood on Feb. 26.