Royston Tan is back with a new movie — and if you know the Singaporean filmmaker, his movies contain numbers in their titles (15, 881, 4:30, 12 Lotus) and his latest is no exception. 

24 is about a sound recordist who has — wait for it  — 24 places to visit after his death. What follows is a journey that transcends time, space, cinema and living.

According to the press release, 24 is a meditation on life and death inspired by James Choong, a sound recordist and long-time collaborator of Tan’s. Choong himself plays the wandering spirit in the film.

Filmed over the course of three years in Singapore and Thailand, 24 is slated to premiere at next month’s Busan International Film Festival (Oct 6-15) where it’s one of seven titles vying for the Kim Jiseok Award.

24 joi chua
Sweet melody: Sound recordist James Choong with singer Joi Chua in a scene from '24'. 

Named after the festival’s late programme director, the award is given “to the most attractive films that reflect the contemporary standing of Asian cinema.”  Two award recipients will be selected and each will be presented a cash prize of US$10,000 (S$13,500). Results will be announced during the festival’s closing ceremony.

24 is Tan’s first feature since 2015's 3688, a musical dramedy starring Joi Chua, Pamelyn Chee, Rahimah Rahim, Liu Lingling and Shigga Shay.

In the years since 3688, Tan, 45, worked on the Mediacorp dialect sitcom Eat Already?, the interactive anti-drug abuse short High, and the COVID-19 safety video, Together, Towards a New Normal. He was served as the creative director of last year’s National Day Parade.

If you think Tan, once labelled a rebel filmmaker, has mellowed and gone establishment, think again — 24 will show that he hasn’t lost his edge. Tan called 24 his most personal film to date "[where I got to] stay true to my craft of telling stories without self-censoring myself,” he tells via Whatsapp.

Following its Busan debut, 24 will tour the film fest circuit, including Singapore International Film Festival, which takes place from Nov 25 to Dec 2. Tan hopes to release the film commercially next year. 

24 poster

Photos: Chuan Pictures