From Quirky Indie Filmmaker To Sundance Award Winner, Kirsten Tan Defies The Odds

Every year, The Singapore Women’s Weekly shines the spotlight on 18 outstanding, high-achieving working women in the Great Women Of Our Time awards. These inspiring pioneers and game-changers are making an impact in different arenas in Singapore. In this series, we introduce the nominees in this year's awards. Here is the third nominee in the Arts & Media category:

Meet The Great Women Of Our Time Awards 2017 Arts & Media Nominee, Kirsten Tan

Kirsten Tan, 36, Film Director and Screenwriter

Female-directed films are few and far between. In fact, with every international film festival held, the question gets more pressing: Where are the female directors?

Kirsten Tan is making her cinematic presence felt with her first full-length feature, Pop Aye, which has become the only Singapore film to win the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival 2017.

“It’s a huge honour. Just being at Sundance, the experience of being there, and seeing people queuing up to watch my movie earlier this year in January, I felt like that, in itself, was enough,” the writer-director recalls. “As a first time filmmaker, to see people who actually want to watch your work, I was very, very moved.”

“The screening went well and the response was better than I could’ve imagined. So I flew back to Singapore and resumed life as normal,” she recalls. “Then I got a message from Trevor Groth, Director of Programming at Sundance, asking me to call him back and I kind of had an inkling that maybe I had won something.”

Humble as ever, Kirsten didn’t want to get her hopes up just in case the call was about something that she left behind in Utah, where the Sundance Festival is help but what came next was the highlight of her career so far.

“I tried to make myself not expect anything during the call so when he told me about the win, I was just trying to maintain my calm during our conversation but as soon as I put down the phone, I really celebrated. I was so happy,” says Kirsten.