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An Evening with Director He Shuming at Exclusive Ajoomma Moving Screening

Group photo with Director Shuming, Associate Professor June Tay, SUSS Head of Digital Media Programme, Ms Khoo Sim Eng, SUSS Head of Film Studies Programme and the audience.
Group photo with Director Shuming, Associate Professor June Tay, SUSS Head of Digital Media Programme, Ms Khoo Sim Eng, SUSS Head of Film Studies Programme and the audience.

On 2 Nov 2022, SUSS Digital Media and Film Studies students, along with SUSS Alumni Relations held a special joint screening of the movie Ajoomma at Golden Village VivoCity and they were joined by the movie’s director He Shuming.

Ajoomma is the first Singapore-South Korea collaboration centred around a widowed mother who had devoted her life to her family, played by Singaporean actress Hong Huifang, who now has an adult son leaving home. The film has been very well received, with sold-out screenings at the Busan Film Festival and four nominations at the Golden Horse Awards. Ajoomma is also Singapore’s candidate for Best International Film for the 2023 Academy Awards.

Director of the Movie Ajoomma, He Shuming, answering Q&A questions from the audience.
Director of the Movie Ajoomma, He Shuming, answering Q&A questions from the audience.

During the Q&A after the movie, director He Shuming described how he came up with the story for his first feature film after seeing how much his mother loves Korean drama. The ambitious project had many challenges. Among other things, he was shooting in winter in locations all over South Korea, working with a South Korean team who did not speak English, and dealing with pandemic conditions. Shuming shared interesting stories, like how star Hong Huifang drove herself around in a madcap car chase scene and improvised lines that were not safe for mainstream consumption, and had to be eventually edited out.

Over 200 SUSS students, alumni, instructors, staff and guests attended the screening.
Over 200 SUSS students, alumni, instructors, staff and guests attended the screening.

Benjamin Foo, SUSS Human Resource Management student, shared,“It was inspirational to see how humble the director, He Shuming, is. Knowing more about the process and difficulties of taking a local film overseas, managing a cast of older actors, navigating the language barrier and the troubles that came with filming certain scenes or getting funding as a new director was certainly insightful.” 

Director He Shuming taking photos with audience members in front of the movie poster.
Director He Shuming taking photos with audience members in front of the movie poster.

For four alumnae from SUSS BA Translation and Interpretation (BATI), the event was particularly memorable. After the movie, SUSS alumnae Winnie Tan, Heidi Mah, Khang Siew Ying, and Wong Xinhui were posing for pictures in front of the movie poster when director He Shuming jumped in with them. As Heidi happily recounted, “What a pleasant surprise, the director joined us for a photo!”

Lian Jiayuan, SUSS Multimedia Technology and Design alumna, best summed up the evening, “It was a wonderful night where we were allowed to experience a great movie made by a promising new Singaporean director and a beloved veteran actress who has graced our local TV screens for many years. Thank you SUSS for organising this event for both students and alumni.” 

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