Her World Young Woman Achiever 2017: Kirsten Tan

by Her World  /   November 8, 2017

Kirsten Tan is probably a familiar name to Singaporeans by now. After all, she made headlines for her first full-length feature film, Pop Aye, which won at the Sundance Film Festival. We speak to the Her World Young Woman Achiever


She’s an award-winning filmmaker who completed her Master’s in Film Production in New York City, the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts Fellowship (scholarship). Prior to that, she co-founded nuSTUDIOS, a Film and TV studio based in Singapore that continues to provide a platform for budding filmmakers to showcase their works.

She travelled and lived in South Korea where she made Come (2007), then Sink (2009) in Thailand before finally settling down in New York City where she is currently based. Her shorts were showcased in a host of international film festivals and has won over 10 awards and grants. In 2014, she co-directed a fashion film, Ella, for Giorgio Armani and it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since then, it has been included into the archives of the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

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Her first full-length feature film, Pop Aye (by Giraffe Pictures), was the first-ever Singaporean film that entered and won an award at the Sundance Film Festival, receiving positive reviews from The Hollywood, Reporter, Roger Ebert, Variety and Screen International. It was invited by the Cannes Film Festival as one of 15 projects presented under L’Atelier, a tightly-curated selection of feature films in pre-production.

Featured in the press heavily, she was also on CNN International’s flagship program, Ones To Watch.

Kirsten Tan said during her acceptance speech that, actually, she never set out to be an achiever. “I never knew I could be one – I grew up being the odd ball, and I was even voted “most weird” in secondary school. So this award is a welcome validation and thank you for allowing me to see myself in a new light,” she said. She said that she has acheived what she has achieved through her own stubborn attitude towards doing what she loves, and film was (and is!) her main love.

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Appearing mature beyond her years, Kirsten beautifully conveyed why she is this year’s winner with her selfless and giving attitude, by saying “I want this to extend to every young girl and woman out there who is trying to do her own thing. The girl may be limited by circumstances, society or herself (self-doubt is common amongst girls), and I want to tell her to step up and not hold herself back. If I could make a wish with this award, it would be that we come together and start shifting perception and mindsets that limit the opportunity of any such girl, no matter where from she comes in.”

We couldn’t have put this any better.