To celebrate Singapore's 50th year of independence next year, seven renowned local film-makers will come together to present 7 Letters, an anthology of short films about Singapore's heartland and its people.

They include Jack Neo, Royston Tan, Eric Khoo, Kelvin Tong and Tan Pin Pin, among others.

But where is Anthony Chen in the line-up?

Chen explained that he turned down Royston Tan's invitation to participate in such a high-profile project for personal and professional reasons.


He said: "When I was invited to take part, I literally had been travelling for 1½ years promoting Ilo Ilo around the world. (The film) took close to five years of my life (in all). It really took a toll on me and I needed (time) to recover.

"My wife hasn't seen me much, it is time to devote my attention to family life again."

He added that he is also seldom in Asia and that his upcoming films "require a lot of energy".

"It's just not possible for me to take on anything else. When I say 'yes' to something, I need to be confident that I can devote all my heart to it. The last thing I want is to deliver a compromised piece of work."

Chen added: "I think all of us are contributing to Singapore cinema in our own little ways and the next focus for my work in Singapore is to support more young talented film-makers."