currents

Venue: Post Museum (Back Room), 107+109 Rowell Rd, Singapore

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 8:00pm – 10:00pm

HALF ELEPHANT

Website ( http://halfelephant.wordpress.com )

An Asia-Pacific filmmakers and moving-image artists collective founded by current students and alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As a young group, Half Elephant hopes to actively promote the production, exhibition and distribution of alternative film and video in the region, as well as to provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration between filmmakers and artists across nation borders in Asia Pacific.

Many of the works selected in the program are fruits of collaborative labors involving multiple members of the collective; one can say that the Half Elephant collective is an umbrella under which a closely knitted group of filmmakers and artists grew alongside each other in their art, constantly challenging each other to push the boundaries of filmic forms.

CURRENTS

Entry fees: $8 (inclusive of 1 non-alcoholic drink), $12 (inclusive of 1 beer)

The screening is a showcase of nine short films and videos from current members of Half Elephant. Many of the works transcend the traditional understanding of genre in film and video, by combining elements of narrative, experimental, animation and documentary.

The films are all made in either America or Europe by filmmakers of Asian nationality. It is interesting to consider the manner in which the films assimilate the western culture and landscape, even to use them to create a temporal space that dwells into the roots of eastern philosophy, family values and Diasporic identities. The program also brings into question the notion of “Asian American”, thinking about the theoretical framework in which this ethnical classification can be re-considered in the context of these films.

1. THE BOX AND THE CAMERA
by Brian Oh
7 mins, B/W 16mm Film, Korea/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

A 7-minute long take depicting the relationship between a father and son. The setting, a vast barren landscape, fittingly represents the emotional distance between the two characters. With little dialogue, subtle affection and strain is shown between the two as they engage in separate activities and a sense of irony is created in the display of a bonding experience between a father and son.

2. WAS MT. FUJI REALLY THERE?
by Lee Mi Sa
8 mins, Video, Korea/Japan/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

After having a dream of her dead brother who died ten years ago, the filmmaker Lee Mi Sa acts as herself, wishing that she could remember him. She goes to Japan, following traces of the dream.

3. THE MISSING KIDS
by Emily Wang and Ko Kaleng
3 mins, Video, Taiwan/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

We store our past in DV, TV, and cell phone, which alter our memory through repetition.

4. BUBBLE JAR
by Angela Kim
3 mins, 16mm Film, Korea/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

The work is developed from a combination of nihilism and Buddhism. We don’t realize how much people compete with each other and live very intense lives, but there is no need to suffer, because our human beings are very weak and eventually will die. This could be thought as human beings living for nothing, but all human beings will die and will become part of nature in a different form. Therefore, everything can be meaningless and there is no need to struggle in your life.

5. TALES OF SWIMMING POOL
by Tulapop Saenjaroen
14 mins, Video, Thailand/USA, 2008, (Rating PG)

I don’t know how to swim; I’m learning. I don’t know the reason why I’m practicing swimming; I’m searching.

6. BEST WISHES
by Ko Kaleng
10 mins, 16mm Film, Taiwan/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

At the day of her wedding, two women make their best wishes to each other.

10 MINS. INTERMISSION

7. HONEYMOON
by Emily Wang
3 mins, Animation/Video, Taiwan/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

Mr. Soymilk and Mrs. Donut travels though time in their honeymoon.

8. THE INNER CITY
by Liao Jiekai
18 mins, Video, Singapore/Spain/USA, 2008, (Rating TBA)

Three filmmakers traveled together in Barcelona. One of them chose to document the journey spontaneously.

9. NOWHERE ISLAND
by Hsu Ya-Ting
23 mins, HD Video, Taiwan/USA, 2008, (Rating PG)

Immigrant worker, Shasha, comes to USA to search a better life and chase her small dream. Even though she has to deal with alienation and isolation in this big country as an outsider, she still keeps silent and is tolerant of everything happening around her. Until one day she got the phone call from her hometown…She knows her dream will never come true.

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Watching “The Edge of Heaven” this evening had reaffirmed by quintisential inability to appreciate movie properly. I cannot stop analyzing it, questioning it and breaking it down into pieces, the tragedy of a filmmaker; how I wish I can watch a film without thinking about how it was made.

“The Edge of Heaven” is a plot driven movie, no doubt. It uses a form of parallelism between Turkey and Germany, across characters, time and place. At times, I wish that time can slow down, that the director can really just let the emotional moments float a tat longer, even if the film is going to stretch 30 mins longer. Perhaps it is just me, but I hate it when a film is so plot driven and the plot is rather predictable. I don’t so much appreciate the story too, mainly because I feel that many plotlines are drawn purposefully to serve the graceful story structure of parallelism and coincidence that the director so embrace.

The film uses 3 sets of inter-titles. First “the death of XXX”, then “the death of YYY” and then “The Edge of Heaven”. (XXX and YYY are characters in the film). It is not a uncommon structure. I see it in “Candy”, the Australian drug movie starring Heathe Ledger, and other films too. But I feel that such inter-titles are powerful structuring tools if used properly. However, I feel that in “Edge of Heaven”, it serves little purpose, other than being chapter marks. Yes, it does predict the death of certain characters for the audience before hand, but I feel it serves no emotional purposes, it’s role becoms mechanical. It try to provoke the audience to think beyond the story, some big macro philosophy beyond the characters, but really, I feel that it is trying too hard.

The ending is unusual and powerful, as some people had told me. How often does one can to watch people watching the sea? Reminds me immediately of a shot in my film “The Inner City”, where I put the audience through a painful POV of myself watching the sun rise through the window for a long time. However, I feel that the ending does not have the support of the rest of the movie. Because the film is too plot driven, when one is thrown into a super open-ended and emotive ending like this, it becomes too contradictory. I feel that the message is forced down my throat, some kind of “look at the sea and contemplate and contextualize it with the rest of the film” type of message.

I think that films with truely emotive endings do not provoke this kind of feeling. It just comes more naturally, like in the case of “Maboroshi” and “Moe no Suzaku” or “Double life of veronique” (Im getting very subjective here, so do pardon me). I do not mean to say that the ending is wrong or “bad”, but I just think that it is not supported by the main body of the film.

Overall, it is a well made film. But not in my top ten. Certainly worth a watch though.:-)

Omni Bus movies are not always the easiest thing to watch (and make). People think of it as three (typically) short films under a coherent umbrella. They bounce off each other, they are use against each other, and they balance each other. “Tokyo” and “Tickets” can be described as well made films, as expected of the prolific directors invited to take part in the projects.

“Tokyo” is a three segment omni bus by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-Ho. Coming into the movie, Ive only known the works of Michel (Music Videos, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Science of Sleep) and Bong (Memoirs of a Murder, The Host). The umbrella that covered the three segments is obvious – Tokyo; how three foreign directors interprete the city. More than just the physical city, I find “Tokyo” very specific about the kind of psychological state of the people, which I will talk more when it comes to the specific segments.

Another observation is how the three segments can be shot with different formats. Michel used regular 35mm, Leos used video (HD, SD and handphone), while Bong uses 35mm cinemascope. Knowing the content of each segment, I kind of understand why each directors chose their specific format.

Part One is “Interior Design” by Michel Gondry. The story is about a young couple coming to live and work in Tokyo. The man is an artist/filmmaker while the woman is a supportive girlfriend who is gradually getting disillusioned by her lack of ambition and purpose. As they impose in their high school friend’s cramp little apartment, things start to get a little spicy, and strangely magical.

One have come to expect the kind of things that Michel Gondry does. The first 20 mins of the film is just regular drama, building up expectations for the kind of crazy wonders that is to come. I must admit that it is skillfully done. The dramatic parts are extremely important in building up the kind of tension in the mind of the woman that causes her to snap into the wonderous magical being in the 2nd half. One can catch a scent of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, yet more than just a magical conclusion to a tragic life, Michel had invited questions about what does it mean to be a human? Perhaps one can also revisit Osamu Dazai’s “No longer Human”, but of course the film is way more light-hearted than that.

Leos Carax’s “Merde” is truely a dark comedy. A strange man in a green cloak emerges from the Tokyo sewers and start terrorizing the city, from the initial seeming harmless irritations to an eventual massacre in the streets. The strange being which speaks a different language and behaves in an absurdly disgusting manner was trialed and defended by a lawyer who speaks the same tongue. He was sentenced to death, but mysteriously disappeared after being declared dead. (Sounds familiar huh?) The movie ends with a declaration of a part two “Merde in Newyork”.

What truely makes this film powerful is how far and how close it is to reality. People may say, you kidding me? Our world don’t look like that. But seriously considering the atmosphere of fear in the world today, with the air of death constant lingering around. The dark and the ugly may actually be the good guys, and how the protagonists of today’s political world may one day become the next Hitler. And finally, this semi-christ like figure that “resurrects” from the dead. Our world is really, in actual fact darker than it seems, so is the hearts of man.

Bong’s “Shaking Tokyo” is quite unlike the films he had made before. A Hikkikomori who never stepped out of his house for the past ten years finally took the leap of faith – when a Pizza girl played by the gorgeous Aoi Yu, fainted at his doorstep.

I like how the director internalized the state of being a “Hikkikomori” that it is not just people who stayed at home all their life and are afraid to leave home. It is not just being physical stranded in a location. But mentally, how people in the world today put up this protective wall around them. When the protagonist see the empty and deserted Tokyo (I wonder how much money is spent to make this happen), and realized that everyone had became like himself, I think it is a perfect metaphor of how he can never get out of this state, even when he is in the streets.

The mysterious Aoi with buttons painted on her skin that activate different states of being and emotions, further add to the alienation of the people today. How close are we with each other, yet how distant we really are.

“Ticket” by Abbas Kiarostami, Ermanno Olmi and Ken Loach. This Omni Bus movie is graced by a trio of veteran directors who went off and display their power. I specifically love Olmi’s segment, although out of the three, I have never watched his movie before. “Ticket” is way tighter than “Tokyo”, the segments flow very well into each other as the three directors put together a three segments that take place in the same train travelling in Italy.

Olmi’s segment is my favorite. An old professor had this dream about a new love, its relationship with this girl he met when he was a boy. It beautifully tied past, present and future in an editing style that is truely based on “emotions” to quote from Walter Murch’s “In the Blink of an Eye”.

Kiarostami’s segment is very “Kiarostami”. An obnoxious old lady is travelling to another city to attend a funeral, while being attended by a young man who is serving his “community service”. At the same time, the young man met two teenage girls from his hometown.

The story is almost non existent. It is basically a series of meetings, and happenings. How these very different people can all come together in the same place, and the underlying tension between these human relations.

Ken Loach’s segment is by all means the most funny and the most heart warming. The three scottish boys travel to Rome to watch the Champion’s league and support their Celtic soccer club. One boy’s train ticket is stolen by a refugee from the same train, as the trio broke off into this rowdy confrontation that is at times tense and at time sweet and moral.

I especially love the ending, of how other Celtic fans disrupt the way of the policemen chasing after the three boys. Wow. that is cool. haha.

There is a point in my youthful years, where I used to write rather trashy reviews about the works I saw in the Venice Biennale 2005. Some people who read it thought that it was rather “humerous”, but I personally don’t like what i wrote. Hence, when I decided to write about my first experiences at the Singapore Biennale 2008, I had second thoughts. Reconsidering it, I am actually rather interested in the space the exhibition took place in – The City Hall.

I think that for many of the works I see, especially the video works, there is a strong feeling of the history of the space mixed into the work. Especially the pieces that are projected in the “Court Rooms”, there is an institutional feeling, that I feel produces certain healthy conflict with some pieces like Apitchatpong’s “Morakot” depicted in the images below. Apitchatpong’s piece is beautiful and lyrical, one of my favorite works in the show. But with the projection opposing the “seat” of the judge, and the audience stranded in the middle, I felt like some kind of interrogator. It was a little unsettling. “Morakot” depicts empty spaces of an old hotel with fluffy feather like particles floating in the air; a voice over depicts a conversation between a woman and a man, recounting certain memories and dreams; an electrical lamp hovers in front of the projection, providing some kind of an object of contemplation or focus as it emits orange and greenish light.

The images invite a certain imagination towards what the old hotel used to be like, how its former glory are lurking in the dark shadows of the room. The feathers conjure a fantasy world that makes us think that perhaps the old and the aging side of the hotel is but a dirty cover, once torn apart, it will be restored into its original state. The same feeling starts tearing into the installation space as we look at the empty courtroom. Who used to be trialed in the space? Where did the criminals once stand? Where were the lawyers? I pictured invisible eyelines bouncing around the room, and my imagination faltered and collapsed, and I am back into the dark and empty space, staring at the video and the lamp.

One of my favorite exhibition rooms in the Cityhall housed Sherman Ong’s exhibit, titled “Banjir Kemarau” (flooding in the time of drought). It is my favorite room because of the gracious white sofa – the only one of its kind in the whole show. As I slumped onto it, I relaxed, ooo it feels good, and I began to watch the video projected across the space. The video is more of a narrative film, which makes it interesting in the context of the exhibition. I have always wondered why the history of cinema and that of video art are seperated into two different streams, when the medium of moving-image itself is inherently a family of its own. If one is to argue that cinema is more “commercial”, appeal more to the masses, what about experimental films? How do you draw the line between them and video art? Personally, they are all the same to me. Maybe film as in celluloid film is different than analog or digital video, but brushing aside the technical aspect of things, we really cannot put throw “films” and “art” into different realms, and pursue separate discourses.

In the scenario of Sherman’s work, I would rather not call it a “narrative film played in loops in a contemporary art exhibition space”, but rather, a “moving-image work” where the artist/filmmaker decided to display it within a specific context – that of a white cube (museums, galleries, art spaces) as compared to a black box (theater). Coming back to “Banjir Kemarau”, the film first comes across as having a systematic rhythm. It depicts different families of migrants, foreign workers and permanent residents, in the context of HDB flats, plus a little twist – a Singapore that is running out of water. One immediately recalls thematically, Tsai Ming Liang’s “Wayward Cloud” and stylistically the films of Hou Hsiao Hsien. The various families including malay, Japan, Chinese, Indian and Italian, were shot having dialogues about different problems they face in their life, socially, politically and economically. The film was initially composed of only single wide shots, and stays this way for a while, until towards the end when Sherman start using a few close-ups and finally one and only one moving shot.

I enjoy the very natural acting by the cast, I am almost certain that the dialogue of the actors were developed from real life experiences, and the families were real “families”. In that sense, it is a kind of a documentary made with a certain structure dictated by the director, which is really interesting. After an hour or so, the film starts looping again, and I left the space. I bumped into Sherman incidentally later in the exhibition, as he was doing some sort of photo documentation around the Cityhall. He told me that his film will evolve over the course of the Biennale, and I will surely be back for a more exciting “second half” of the film, as he had promised.

At this point, I am rather tired as it is getting late in the night, and my mind just need some space from all the art I saw today. On this note, I just want to show some of the photographs of other works that I took an interest or liking to, which I photographed. Enjoy the images, and if you could, do go down to the site of the Singapore Biennale and look at the exhibitions.

“Maggots”, 2004, Sculptural Installation, by Pham Ngoc Duong

“Passage”, 2007, C-Prints Photographs, by Zureikat Sima

“Beyond Recognition”, 2006, Single Channel Video, by Bamadhaj Nadia

“Bachelor – The Dual Body”, 2003, Installation, by Rhee Ki-Bong

“Disappearing Landscape – Passing”, 2007, 3 Channel Video Installation, by Yuan Goang-Ming

Photography, by Shiga Lieko

“Xteriors I, II, IV,, VIII”, 2001-2007, Kodak Endura Prints, by Dolron Desiree.

“El Naufragio De Los Hombres” (Wreck of Men), 2008, 3 Channel Video Installation, by Nijensohn Charly.

“Tropicana”, 2008, Sculptural Installation, by E Chen.

It was certainly exciting to have Naomi Kawase to be present for Q n A sessions at the festival. But I’m in other ways wearied of the occasion also, I think because some of the questions from the audiences are too “rude” or “out of point”; or the way some people shouts out questions without even bothering to introduce themselves; or the way some overtly passionate people spillout their heartfelt emotions that is just too… err… embarassing? Or how the Kawase was circled by both these crazy audiences at the front booth, all too busy to get a picture with the big director with their newest gadget fresh from their purchase at Comex. It made me disappointed with both myself and the people around me, especially when I too wanted to get her autograph on her documentary DVD-box set originally; but watching all that crowd surround-attacking her got me disillusioned, that I certainly do not want to be part of this group; maybe watching too much Japanese films in a week made me appreciate the polite way Japanese people carry themselves in the movies, which made ugly Singaporeans uglier, I think.

Okay, enough of ugly Singaporean style complaining – I just cant shrug off my roots, can I? Heh. Embracing and Kyakarabaa was especially heartfelt to watch. I can never forget when I first watch Embracing a few months ago, I cried when kawase talked to her father. Prowling through all that childhood photographs, looking at the sky, and clouds, the plants around her – this endless searching, in a sense is rather universal. I think that everyone to a certain extent have this empty something within them that they need to fill, and perhaps, its what makes us human.

Shara was great. The festival scene was pure ecstasy, my body almost swayed with the way the camera move along with the dancers. It was that engaging. At that moment, I understood what Tulapop (my Chicago Roommate) meant when he said Mogari No Mori was very different from Moe No Suzaku and Shara. Shara and Suzaku are very down to earth films. They depict a certain group of people, living in a certain place at a certain time, and their simple and yet complicated life – the feeling of the everyday, the sense of how everything fall into place naturally, is so strong – it is something missing in Mogari No Mori.

In general, Moe No Suzaku is still my favorite Kawase film every, it is just so great (refer to my previous posts). For Shara, I really wished the film ended at the courtyard with the voices of the two boys talking about indian ink on their skin when they were kids – a perfect circle. Yet the director chose to move the camera out onto a helicopter, and fly it around the town. My little illusion is broken, I feel more distant from the place I just spent 2 hours with. It is little disappointing.

The amazing thing about Mogari No Mori, is that although I watched it before at the International Film Festival Rotterdam earlier this year with dutch and french subtitles, neither of which I can read, when I watch it today, I feel that I learned nothing new about the film. Which goes to say that I really had understood everything I need to understand visually – which I think speaks good about the strong visual language of the film. One thing I feel can be improved in Mogari No Mori, is the story about Machiko’s son’s death. It was lightly brought by, though we can all feel the magnitute of the incident in the female protagonist, but the scene with the husband is too much a mere exposition scene. I wish I can understand her pain better  by having scenes about how she had been dealing with this pain by herself – which is not to say I want everything clarified and nicely laid out before me, but I want to comprehend her pain better, especially when the pain of losing a love one is a common bond between the two protagonists in the 2nd half of the film. It was still a great film nontheless. I love the music, it just chimes and remains deep in my mind for a long long time.

Birth/Mother, is very much a film that closes a the series of documentaries Kawase made about her grandmother. I had previously given a review about Katasumori/Hi Wa Katabuki/See Heaven, and will not talk about it too much here, although I must say that looking at them on the big screen had given me fresh perspectives about these works. Previously, I thought that Katasumori and Hi Wa Katabuki is very similar, I think it was after the screening at the JFF that I perhaps had a clearer understanding of their differences. Katasumori is a very on the surface exploration of Kawase’s relationship with her grandmother –  I do not mean this in a bad or superficial way. Contrary, I find this very sincere, it is afterall the first in the series, a consolidation of thoughts that came to her through the years, and a desire to visually establish these connections. Hi Wa Katabuki, on the other hand, is a film where Kawase looks hard for parent – child metaphors from things all around her. Whether it is between a big and small tomato, in her neighbors, simple things in life, she draws these metaphors poetically to reinforce in a subtle way, the universality of the parent – child relationship.

Mother/Child, on the other hand is both a sad and happy closure to the whole episode. The grandmother, whom the viewers so adored, passed away. Kawase (assuming she’s the cameraman), photographer the dead corpse of her grandmother, the face semi purplish green, almost decaying. It was heartbreaking even for me. Yet in the same film, we witnessed the birth of Kawase’s precious child, the second time I saw a real-life birth on screen – the first was in Stan Brakhage’s “Winter water baby moving”. Stylistically, Kawase had became much sharper than her previous documentaries; her older works have edits that are often based on the reel length of the 8mm film reels in her camera – she simply love to let it run out on screen. But in Mother/Child, the mix of video and film presents to her another perspective when it comes to editing, I feel it is more straight to the point, less “beating around the bush”. Even the manner in which she questions her grandmother about sensitive questions related to her childhood, she was harsh and sharp.

As a whole, I welcome the change, and I certainly feel that it is for the better, and hope that Naomi Kawase will continue making these very personal yet infinitely universal documentaries that reaches straight into the deepest reachest of human relationships and emotions.

After four days of Japanese Film Festival, I am simply dumbfounded by the everlasting nature of the old classics. Beginning with Mizoguchi’s “Sansho the Bailiff”, Ive pressed on daily at the festival, watching “Actress” by Kon Ichikawa, “A Hen in the Wind” by Ozu and “Floating Clouds” by Naruse Mikio; it is an amazing journey through the Japanese cinematic history, yet nothing hits me more than “Gaichu” by Akihiko Shiota, which I watched last night. After the screening, someone who saw “Clouds in a Shell” immediately ask me whether I liked the film, and saying that the film is very “me”. But I think it goes beyond, that, I mean this film is surely one of the most amazing film Ive watched for sometime; it compelled me to take out my notebook and start jotting down notes in the cinema. I can’t even remember when is the last time I did something like that.

One of the things I jotted down in my notebook is sound design. I think that more than any films, Gaichu uses sound design so brilliantly. It is not even sound effects or music or any sorts, but simple sounds from simple things: A man beating a metal tin loudly in a junkyard, the sound of marbles falling off a bottle and hitting the hardwood floor, the sound of a woman pounding her fists on the floor, the sound of a very fast vehicle gushing past before your eyes. These are all sounds written so brilliantly into the story, often isolated from all other noise aside from the deadly toned down ambience. The sinister and menacing threat the adults in the film poses to the female protagonist, Sachiko, is beautifully displayed in these sounds. Every decibel and every wave of it hits you with such an intensity, it is sad, helpless, and uncontrollably heartbreaking.

The film reminded me of Kim Ki-duk, for the way both directors depict the female. And it reminded me of Kobayashi Masahiro’s “The Rebirth”, how the silence in the films grew like a deadly cancer lump, unknowingly, we are all trapped in the realm of the alternative world, unable to escape. Yet this is the way the world is, isn’ it? It is a stern warning to the naive people still living in their pretty dreams: like a harmful insect, the world is dangerous, deadly, and no one really cares.

I just recently finished editing my Cinematography Reel. Check the High Quality Version on my website. But the waiting time may just blow you away.

http://www.liaojiekai.com/cinematography/cinematographymain.html

The following Question and Answer is transcribed by Stefan S. a film writer and critic in Singapore. It is taken from his blog in the link

Beng Kheng: Perhaps the filmmakers can introduce themselves and the films?
Kirsten: I did this film during my 1 year residency in Korea, and it was based on my observation of local society, where the majority is conservative and uptight, but there’s a minority who are quite liberal. The story stemmed from a conversation with a group of friends where one of them had been found out by the father during a (masturbation) session, and I expanded the story from there!
Anthony: This is my new film which was shot sometime August / September last year. This is probably the second screening in Singapore, after the earlier one at the Singapore International Film Festival. This is the first time I’m attended a local screening of it though.
Jiekai: My short film was shot last summer, and I spent a year editing and doing post production. I am interested in parallel structures in storytelling. The girl and her dead mom stemmed from my curiosity about death. The original story was based in America, where I had the script but didn’t shoot it. Jin, the NS serviceman, was from my having experienced it, so that’s how the two stories come together.
Leon: My film was made in August last year, and it was what I thought about family. [To Jiekai] I thought there was some strange homoerotic tension between the two guys in your short?
Jiekai: Well that’s not the way I interpreted it! I looked at it more as friendship. I came from an all boys school – Victoria School – and I probably know more about the male-male interaction. As for Jin and his friend standing at the balcony, yes there is some invisible tension , which is something unspoken, but understood.

Beng Kheng to Kirsten: How was the response from the Korean community?
Kirsten: I first screened it at a private screening for about 250 people. Initially I was afraid that they were religious folks and would react negatively to it, but fortunately they saw the light side of the film, and took it quite well, so I was quite relieved. As for sex and religion in the movie, you know, even with the title Come, well if you noticed there were questions posed in the movie such as where did the porn come from, and where does a baby come from, it was my subtle way of saying that perhaps all things come from God.

Q: Is there a reason why a handheld camera was used throughout the film?
Anthony: Yes it was a conscious decision from the start. The first thing and the last thing taught in school was that the story dictates the style. In my previous film, it was about death and dealing with it, so I decided to use a cold, static camera, within which to allow the drama to unfold. Here, it’s about the recklessness of youth, their innocence, and the wild stupid things that we do when young. I want to capture that and the grittiness of it as well.

Q: Could you all talk about the difficulties you faced during production?
Kirsten: I faced two major difficulties. First, the film shoot was organized by film programmers, and I was given four days to do pre-production. I didn’t get to meet the actors until the day of the shoot, so I didn’t know what they were like personally. Second, tbhe language. I was one of the two foreigners and everyone was Korean. I had to grab the translator, who was also my art director, when I want to say something.

Anthony: My main difficulty, due to the subject matter, was casting. I didn’t want to use actors because I wanted to capture honesty and sincerity, so there was no open auditions, and I looked to friends who were teachers or had interactions with students. Eventually I found 2 kids, and I took a gamble. They didn’t know the whole script until 2 weeks before the shoot. It was made in a different way, where they had to stay with me in the flat that we shot in, so that they can rehearse, which was for about 2 weeks which also allowed them to get to know each other better, get close and more comfortable. The film was shot in 3 days.

Jiekai: It was in the writing of the story. When production started it was still unfinished as I kept revising it, adding new characters and scenes. Scenes that were conceived spontaneously worked for me, although images that came to mind was not logical, but made emotional sense. Casting was also difficult, as I did street casting at Far East Plaza looking for teenage girls between 14 to 18. It was difficult to approach them without coming across as dodgy, so in the end I got my producer to do so. The film was shot in 3 days too.
Leon: Mine was mainly finance I guess, as I didn’t get a grant. So it was made in one location, as I had made a huge film previously and it was a nightmare. This film was shot in two 10 hour shoots each day, and it was quite fun actually.

Q: You said that the random images were images you had put into your film. Was it supposed to mean anything?
Jiekai: The logic is not important for me. The images came during travelling, and they made emotional sense to me, so I put them in. They were symbolic but not made to be too representative. The story was not important to me but the mood they create is.

Q: Could you elaborate on the concept and backstory to the characters in Four Dishes?
Leon: It’s mainly about a guy who wonders what the perfect family is like, and what he wants and how he gets it. The backstory, well it came from a friend told me about an image of a father and son having dinner, where the kid was playing his PSP and ignoring his dad.

When I watched the new US release of “Blissfully Yours” on DVD, I am shocked. Beyond Words. The differences between this version and that of the Thai DVD release is simply phenomenal. For the first time in my life, I must have thought that the people who censored these films are simply senseless and disrespectful. I am infuriated that someone could even bear to slaughter a movie like that, and I was vaguely reminded of the rumours i heard about Miramax’s Harvey “Scissorshand” At least 30 minutes is removed from the film, it was ridiculous! Not only the sexual scenes, scenes that are the slightest bit “boring” is being  removed. An entire car driving on the road scene is removed, for no reason, other than maybe it is long? But this is really not the discretion of the distributor. In fact the car scene is a beautiful and mesmerizing look at rural Thailand, as well as an important scene that shapes the relationship between the two women protagonists. I really love this version of Blissfully Yours, the movie makes so much more sense, as it is given so much more space than before. It is still quietly subtle, yet laden with many emotions that comes through the people and the space. Highly recommended for all to watch! The new release of course.

The Collective Unconscious

Dustbin

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