Exploring bold new works from filmmakers around the world, the 53rd New Directors/New Films, our annual festival co-presented with The Museum of Modern Art, officially kicks off on April 3. Ahead of the festival, get to know the filmmakers who speak to the present and anticipate the future of cinema.

Nelson Yeo, director of Dreaming & Dying, shares who inspires him, learning filmmaking lessons from Sun Tzu, and more.

What made you first want to be a director?

I remember it was a healthy dose of ’80s and ’90s Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema.

Was there a film or director you were inspired by or continue to be inspired by?

It is difficult to choose, but I always return to the works of Aki Kaurismäki or David Lynch.

In your own words, tell us about your film. What should audiences know?

That they should not look for answers or clarity. It’s alright to be confused.

What does it mean to you to show your film at New Directors/New Films?

It is a really big honor and we have been hoping to screen our film at ND/NF. I have visited New York once and it is a city that I have loved ever since I first saw it in many movies when I was a kid.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during the making of your film?

“If a battle can’t be won, don’t fight it.” – Sun Tzu

What else do you enjoy doing outside of filmmaking?

Currently, it’s being a dad to my 3-year-old kid.

What’s a film you saw recently that you enjoyed?

Fallen Leaves by Aki Kaurismäki.

High school reunions are invariably awkward, all the more so when only three people show up. At midlife, those three (Peter Yu, Doreen Toh, Kelvin Ho), two married to each other, appear in a peculiar love triangle, unclear if they are grappling with unresolved desires from the past or repressed yearnings of the present. Their romantic entanglement is given a middle-age-appropriate treatment; mysteries of the adult heart find subtly comical expression through a merman, a talking fish, and various surreal scenarios. Channeling Hong Sangsoo’s razor-sharp and at times offbeat gaze, as well as Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s affinity for fantasia and nature, Singaporean director Nelson Yeo’s debut feature, winner of the Locarno Film Festival’s Filmmaker of the Present award, combines reality and magic to provide three troubled souls with a moment to dream.

Nelson Yeo’s Dreaming & Dying screens on April 11 & 12. New Directors/New Films takes place April 3-April 14. Explore the lineup and get tickets.