We take a look at the Jade Warrior DVD, a story inspired by the myth and majesty of the Kalevala. A lovestruck hero fighting against the restrictions of modern life and searching for love beyond time and place and stars upcoming mainland actress Zhang Jingchu. DVD Review here
Other movies starring Zhang Jingchu which you might be interested:
. Rush Hour 3
. Seven Swords
Sunday, September 30, 2007
We take a look at the Jade Warrior DVD, a story inspired by the myth and majesty of the Kalevala. A lovestruck hero fighting against the restrictions of modern life and searching for love beyond time and place and stars upcoming mainland actress Zhang Jingchu. DVD Review here
Saturday, September 29, 2007
A locally-funded controversial movie "Pleasure Factory" that touches on one of Singapore's most "happening" trade will be opening here on 25 October. Directed by acclaimed director Ekachai Uekrongtham ("Beautiful Boxer") and it stars talents such as Yang Kuei-Mei, Ananda Everingham and Loo Zihan. Watch this space for more details. In the meantime, click here for more info
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Details of the Charity Gala Premiere:
Date : 23 October 2007 (Tuesday)
Time : 7:30pm (Running time: 93 minutes)
Venue : Shaw Lido, Level 5 Shaw House, 350 Orchard Road
Tickets : Priced at S$30 or S$50
“We are proud to be distributing this film for its timeliness and relevance to the environmental issues happening in the world”, said Ng Peng Hui, General Manager of Warner Bros. Pictures Singapore. We hope that the audience will be more motivated to get involved in the good cause of saving the environment after they watch this film.”
“Red Dawn Communications is supporting Warner Bros. Pictures in publicizing the movie and educating the public on how to go about solving the climate crisis”, said Angelika Quadt, Group Account Director, Red Dawn Communications. “We hope to encourage everyone come forward and commit to help in reducing carbon emissions.”
The 11th Hour describes the last moment when change is possible. The film explores how humanity has arrived at this moment – how we live, how we impact the earth’s ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course. The film features dialogues with experts from all over the world, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, former head of the CIA R. James Woolsey and sustainable design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau in addition to over 50 leading scientists, thinkers and leaders who present the facts and discuss the most important issues that face our planet.
Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, The 11th Hour is produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Leila Conners Petersen, Chuck Castleberry and Brian Gerber, written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners.
The film is rated PG in Singapore, and will screen at C athay Cineplex Orchard , Golden Village Plaza Singapura, Golden Village VivoCity, The Cathay Cineplex and Shaw Lido from 1st November, 2007.
Trailer and more info can be found here
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I came, I saw and I was totally in awe.
The World Cinema Series by the National Museum Cinémathèque and co-presented by the Singapore Film Society will showcase the next film in its lineup on 9th October next month. I had the privilege of attending the media preview this evening for the movie Cairo Station by Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, and was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the movie, despite it being made almost 50 years ago.
In attendance today was Yousry Elsayed Mansou, a graduate from The Higher Institute of Cinema in Egypt (in 1981) and an ex-student of the director, and he had shared some valuable insights on the movie which you can read below. Yousry will also be present on screening day to interact with the audience after the movie, and I would encourage one and all to pick his brain to learn more about the movie, and of Egyptian cinema in general too.
Yousry shared that in his 4th year in the Institute, which was the graduation year, they had to sit in a director's workshop, and it was fortunate and lucky that his was with Youssef Chahine, although the director he idolizes was the director who preceded the batch before his! Nonetheless Youssef still remains one of the most remarkable filmmakers today, and is now 81 years old. His latest movie Heya Fawda (Chaos) was screened in competition at the recently concluded Venice Film Festival which ended about 2 weeks ago.
Youssef was born in 1926 and started to make movies from 1949. Cairo Station was made in 1958, and remains the only film in Egyptian cinematic history where the audience demonstrated within the theatre, and almost destroyed the seats. They had also asked for refunds as they didn't like the film, calling the film Ugly. It may seem strange to people today when they watch the movie, why such was the reaction then. It was the first day of screening, and it was removed from release. For 10 years nobody had watched it, until it was screened on television in Egypt, and many then had started to realize its importance.
Youssef Chahine had never spoken about Cairo Station during the 20 years, and relations between him and the scriptwriter were at breaking point - they never stopped blaming each other about the failure of the movie with the public. But on thing's for sure, the film was earlier than its time, and perhaps the audience then were not ready for it. In the movie, Youssef Chahine also plays one of the lead roles.
I believe Cairo Station marks my very first experience in watching an Egyptian movie (those television soap operas over the RTM channels when I was younger, don't exactly count). And having the opportunity to watch one made by an acclaimed Egyptian filmmaker, was nothing less than a bonus. What provided the icing on the cake, was that it was shown in 35mm print, and that is precisely the attraction of the World Cinema Series.
I was under the uninformed impression that older, black and white movies, will likely to be paced too slow for my liking, or have stories that are quite bland by today's standards. I was so wrong, and Cairo Station absolutely threw those notions out of my mental window the minute I experienced the first few minutes of it. It has an extremely strong story, sophisticated in that it managed to span multiple threads and had ensemble characters, having so much paced so nicely within its 74 minute runtime, and having them all come together neatly for the finale.
Having the events take place within a single day, it centers around 3 lead characters - Kenawi the newspaper boy (played by the director himself), who walks with a limp and gets discriminate against by the working folks at the train station (hence the English title), Hanuma the sultry, sexy soft drink seller (played by Hind Rostrom) and her beau Abu Sri (Farid Shawqi), a porter at the station who's galvanizing his fellow workers to form a union to fight for better wages and welfare. There you have the female lead in a familiar seductress role, an anti-hero, and the hero himself, caught in a love triangle, which starts to turn Kenawi's jealousy and having his love spurned, into a dangerous obsession.
Sounds like a Hitchcock-ian thriller? You bet! It's a dark movie indeed, one which explores the trappings of a misguided soul and his fetish and fantasies of beautiful pin up models, and because of his inability to express himself properly, gets frustrated and even with his relatively low IQ, starts to scheme to get his desires met. But it's not always all about Kenawi, as having the premise set in one of the busiest train stations, it allows for a number of avenues to introduce simple side stories to enrich the main narrative - every anonymous face in the station, definitely has a story to tell.
And what exactly was in the film that had made audiences back then upset? Well, I could offer a few suggestions, but by today's standards, it has seemed that it's already quite common, be it the water soaked clothing that accentuates a woman's curves, or a folio consisting of various scantily clad pin up models, or the many cleavage bearing shots, or perhaps some dancing and flirting amongst a train full of man, giving them that seductive wink? One wonders, but as with most situations, anyone seemed to have been crossing the boundaries, pushing the envelopes, or revolutionizing the way stories are told, would have met with either accolades for doing so, or unfortunate condemnation like what this film received during its very first screening.
But on hindsight, as always, this movie is nothing short of being remarkable. And having already watched it, I will be watching it again when the film screens once more to the general public on October 5th. Mark your calendars, and experience a world class production that has withstood the test of time - 50 years and counting, is no mean feat!
After the screening, Yousry shared with us some of the breakthroughs in tradition that this film has had. One, Farid Shawqi the actor is extremely well known for his heroic roles, but here, gets reduced to less than a "superman" he is well known for. Even actress Hind Rostrom was regarded like the Madonna of cinema, and in this movie she has only 1 costume throughout, versus the typically 20-30 costume changes she will have in her movies. These might have presented as a disappointment to their fans and to the audience in general. Two, The main character is a nobody, instead of your usual heroic roles. Three, the movie was filmed entirely outdoors instead of in a studio, and one can imagine the size of equipment those days (on 35mm) that has to be setup during production.
Yousry also provided some additional insights and introduction to Egyptian cinema, for example, sharing with us that the Director of Photography for this movie, Alevise Orfanelli, is credited for having heralded the beginnings of Egyptian cinema way back in 1907, and this year, they are celebrating 100 years of Egyptian cinema.
For those who are interested to learn more, why not attend the screening, and get an opportunity to interact with Yousry too?
$8 / $6.40 concession
Free admission for Singapore Film Society members
Stamford Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 8pm
Canning Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 5pm
(click on Online Booking tab at the bottom of the webpage)
Ticketing Information: 6332 3659
General Enquiries: 6332 5642
Patrons are advised that valid identity pass is required for all screenings.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Executive produced by two of the biggest names in the current movie industry, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, "Wind Chill" is about two college students who experienced some scary supernatural sightings when their vehicle breaks down on a deserted stretch of road while driving home in a car for the holidays.
We are almost sure that it’ll make for a good fright on a stay-in weekend night.
Click here for the DVD Review
Thursday, September 20, 2007
A prayer ceremony was held earlier today at Cococabana Restaurant, Deep Water Bay, Hong Kong, to mark the start of filming for Rule #1 in Hong Kong. The cast of the film, Hong Kong stars Shawn Yue, Ekin Cheng and Stephanie Che, director Kelvin Tong and representatives from the co-producers were present at the prayer ceremony that was held on set at the restaurant. The ceremony was attended by more than 40 members of the media, including journalists from Singapore. Filming commenced at the restaurant soon after, and principal photography in Hong Kong will last approximately a month. Rule #1 is a collaboration by Fortune Star Hong Kong, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures, Scorpio East Pictures, Dream Movies Entertainment Overseas and Kelvin's Boku Films. The movie is slated for wide release in March or April 2008.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Due to popular and overwhelming demand, Golden Village has added 7 more shows for The Metropolitan Opera:Tan Dun’s The First Emperor in High-Definition (HD) Digital exclusively at GV VivoCity from 20 September to 3 October 2007 daily. 5 out of the original 9 sessions for The First Emperor have been fully sold out before the opera premieres tomorrow. Remaining sessions are left with tickets on the first two rows from the screen. Golden Village is now adding new sessions in response to the great demand. Opera fans who were not able to catch The Metropolitan Opera in HD Digital at GV VivoCity will now be given another chance to experience the phenomenon.
20 – 26 September 2007 – 7pm daily and 3.30pm on the weekends 4 sessions remaining and tickets are selling fast! Seats only available in the first two rows from the screen .
27 September – 3 October 2007 – 7pm daily 7 new sessions added
Review of "The First Emperor" can be found on moviexclusive.com
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Adapted from the most watched TV series of the same name in Japanese television, HERO stars Japanese hottest star Takuya Kimura, Korean heart-throb Lee Byung Hun and the ever beautiful Takako Matsu.
Watch out for it's release this November! Hover your mouse to HERO movie page for more info
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Fortune Star Hong Kong, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures, Scorpio East Pictures, Dream Movie Entertainment Overseas and Boku Films are pleased to announce a collaboration to produce Singapore director Kelvin Tong’s (Picture left from MX File) latest horror thriller Rule #1.
Rule #1, which will be shot entirely in Hong Kong, features regional stars Shawn Yue, Ekin Cheng, Stephanie Che and Singapore’s Fiona Xie. A strong production team has been assembled to assist director Kelvin Tong that includes acclaimed cinematographer Keung Kwok Man (Protégé) and art director Horace Ma (Mr Nice Guy).
This mark the first time a Singapore director will be working on a movie in Hong Kong and principal photography will commence this month. The movie, budgeted at US$2 million, is targeted for a wide release across Asia in March 2008. Daniel Yun, Executive Producer and Managing Director of MediaCorp Raintree Pictures comments: “We have worked well with Kelvin Tong on The Maid and we are working with him on the sequel to the Maid. Rule #1 has a compelling premise and we hope that the various partners involved in this film project will help make this movie another break-out for Kelvin and for the Asian film industry”.
Lim Teck, General Manager of Scorpio East Pictures says: “We are very happy to have confirmed this exciting cast, and believes this movie represents a great opportunity for our local talent in Kelvin and Fiona to work and excel in Hong Kong.”
Friday, September 14, 2007
"Lions For Lambs" is Tom Cruise's UA Pictures first offering after it's revamp. Starring Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. A poignant and layered story of several individuals caught up at various ends of the nation’s war on terror.
Lions or Lambs, we are in! View Trailer here
Thursday, September 13, 2007
InnoForm Media will be releasing VCD, DVD and a Limited Edition DVD that comes with the respected FREEBIES. VCD Secret Coasters, DVD Secret Postcards. Limited Edition DVD Exclusive Singapore Star Tour Photo Booklet
In addition, stand a chance to win autographed Secret limited edition movie premiums (such as Secret Limited Edition Music Box, Notebook, CD singles) Chimei 32 ¡nch LCD TV in our SECRET DRAW when you purchase DVD distributed by InnoForm Media! Simply redeem the prizes from InnoForm if you find a winning coupon within the DVD*. (SECRET DRAW Only valid for normal edition DVD)
DVD Special Features includes Trailers, Making Of, Music Video, and Photo Gallery with
Mandarin Dialogue, Chinese/ English Subtitles
Warner Bros Singapore is proud to announce that "Sweeney Todd" will be coming to our shores next lunar new year, 7 Feb 2008 to be precise. A screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical thriller. The original Broadway production won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical. Stay tuned on mx for more details.
Aaron Kwok plays THE DETECTIVE in one half of the Pang Brothers' latest suspense thriller. Is it a curse or some other mystery behind the recent strange deaths? We sincerely hope it's not caused by Aaron's hairdo...
Find out more on 4th October, in the meantime click here for stills, poster and the full synopsis
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Leonardo DiCaprio narrates and produced the documentary, THE 11TH HOUR exploring how we live, how we impact the world's ecosystems and what we can do to change the course turning mankind's darkest hour into it's finest. Are you listening?
Click here to see the trailer
Tonight marks the closing of the 7th Asian Film Symposium, after the past 4 days of short film screenings, and a Forum on the Asian Film Festival circuit. And closing the symposium are two films, one Japanese docudrama, while the other is a local documentary on Chek Jawa, which I thought aptly closed the Symposium on a strong note, with strangers coming together, forming friendships, pooling resources and tackling a common cause, mirroring the Symposium's platform for the meeting of the minds.
Director Eric Lim of Remember Chek Jawa was present with his crew and subject interviewees for a Q&A Session after the screening. Below are some of the nuggets of information shared during the session:
- This screening is the 4th public screening of Chek Jawa.
- He had spent about 3 months since December last year to put the movie together, with the help of Online Editor Gek Lisan.
- The footage that we see of the effort is mostly shot in Aug 2001
- Some of the wildlife stuff were filmed on and off between 2002 to 2004.
- The DVD is expected to be out at the end of the year, and is to be distributed by Objectifs.
- Those who wish to request for screenings can click on this link.
- It will be travelling the film festival circuit starting with "Planet in Focus" International Environmental Film & Video Festival come 24-28 Oct 07.
- But of course Eric feels that he would prefer more locals to watch this documentary, which I agree, since it's something that's directly relevant to us./li>
- Besides his much needed vacation, Eric has also finished filming his next project, which is a documentary on a Chinese opera family living at Pulau Ubin, and editing should be completed by mid 2008.
Besides Eric, one of the key players in Remembering Chek Jawa, botanist Joseph Lai, was also on hand to share a few words. Joseph was a key player in noticing the treasure trove and galvanizing like-minded volunteers to save the habitat. His current project is to save some patches of forest, which is home to a number of animals and rare species, at Sentosa, which will be directly impacted with the building of the Integrated Resort. You can read up more of Joseph's works at Eart-Heart, and contact him too if you're interested in outreach and nature walks programmes. There are plenty of links, pictures and information for nature buffs and amateurs alike who want to have a jumpstart into the interesting locations that you thought couldn't exist in our concrete jungle. Joseph made a poignant point before he ended though, and that's a reminder that the treasures of nature that we have here, is ours, and nobody else can take care of them other than ourselves.
Photo Credit: Richard Lim
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The 7th edition of the Asian Film Symposium started this evening, with the Opening Film, Malaysian filmmaker Tan Chui Mui's award winning Love Conquers All, screened to a full house at The PIcturehouse. Director Tan Chui Mui was present to grace the occasion, and for the Q&A session after the screening.
Over the next few days, be prepared for some cutting edge shorts from around the region - Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and even Australia. Best of all, the screenings are held over the weekends, and in the evenings, so film fans who want to sample a selection of what's out there, or who could possibly be the next big filmmaker to keep tabs on, wouldn't want to miss these sessions. Best of all, a forum on the Asian Film Festival Circuit will be held this Saturday afternoon at 4pm at the Substation Theatre, with the forum topic on the Asian Film Festival Circuit. Admission to the forum is free with registration at email@example.com
For ticketing details and screening schedules, click on this link.
As part of the Substation's 17th Birthday bash. the SeptFest2007, a whole slew of events, of which the Asian Film Symposium is a part of, takes place this very month. From live performances to painting and multimedia exhibitions, there surely must be something that appeals to you. Best yet, and keep your fingers crossed for the approval from the authorities, is a big event called the Tunnel Party. More details of SeptFest2007 can be found here. Bookmark it!
After the credits rolled, almost everyone adjourned to the Picturehouse lounge area for a Q&A session with Love Conquers All director Tan Chui Mui. Spotted in the crowd were local filmmakers like Wee Li Lin (Gone Shopping), Leonard Lai (The High Cost of Living), Sun Koh, Tan Pin Pin (Invisible City), and actress Mindee Ong (881) too!
Naturally, those who wish to know nothing about the film prior to watching it, should skip the following (spoiler alert) points which Chui Mui shared with us this evening.
- She liked the first and last scenes. After all, those were the scenes she first had in mind and wrote about.
- The inspiration for the movie came from a news report about a boy who cheated a girl into prostitution.
- There were 5 cuts made in its commercial release in Malaysia. The obvious ones were of course the foreplay between Ping and John, Ping and her first customer, John kissing Ping at the phone booth, and what was curious enough, was John's calling out at a kampung "assalamualaykum" (peace be upon you), which was substituted with a *beep* sound, making it sound like he was calling out a vulgarity.
- The Indian Man at the beginning of the scene was styled after Gandhi, metaphorically with the shifting of seats with Ping, to convey the thought that while there are other important issues to talk about, this is what Chui Mui wanted to focus on.
- The pen pal scene was actually shot with a small fat boy in the role, but it was eventually edited out.
- Although the DP was James Lee, himself an accomplished director (in the same production house), Chui Mui said that his professionalism meant that he won't provide his directorial opinions to Chui Mui unless when asked.
- Being a low budget production, Chui Mui didn't even have a monitor to view/review scenes.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
200 Pounds Beauty is the Highest Grossing Korean Movie in Singapore. The story, from a Japanese comic tells a story of Hanna, is a lip sync vocalist for Ammy, the famous Korean pop singer. Even though Hanna is always ignored due to her appearance, she has always been a bright and happy girl until Ammy humiliated her in front of Sangjun, the guy she secretly admired. Finally she made a life-changing decision to have a major cosmetic surgery.
Details of 200 Pounds Beauty FREE Screening:
200 Pounds Beauty
Venue: Tampines Mall, Open Plaza (Level 4)
Date/Time: 15 Sept (Sat) 7.00pm
Free Screening will be in Mandarin with English Subtitles.
To redeem complimentary rice cake, simply present Tampines Mall Mooncake Festival mailer at Open Plaza prior to the screening. Redemption commences at 6.30pm. Limited to the first 100 patrons.
Korean Kraze Lucky Draw (July to October 2007)
To thank supporters for their ardent support in Korean drama, InnoForm Media has organized Korean Kraze Lucky Draw and a string of Korean related activities (i.e. free screening of dramas and movies) to thank viewers for their support over the years. During this period, purchase of selected Korean dramas* will provide a chance to win air tickets to Korea (Sponsored by WTS Travel and Tours) , Missha beauty products, and Seoul Garden dinning vouchers. A lucky winner will also walk home with a BenQ Joybook S41 in October's special draw. So watch Korean dramas and win fantastic prizes! For more details of the draw, please refer to http://www.innoform.com.sg/
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The movie "881" is still selling like hot cakes and now the soundtrack is flying off the shelves as well. Produced by well-known local musician Eric Ng, let us take a look at the OST which consists of catchy tracks such as "One Half", "Missing" and "Replacement" etc.
Full review is right here
Sunday, September 02, 2007
The last week of the 4th edition of the Singapore Short Cuts no doubt had generated some buzz because of Anthony Chen's award winning short Ah Ma, and tickets were all snapped up within hours of being released. Royston Tan too turned up for the screening this afternoon. However, those who collected the free tickets apparently didn't turn up in full numbers, giving the opportunity to those in the waiting queue, which started to form an hour to showtime. And if I'm right, almost everyone who turned up did not do so in vain.
Ah Ma - Anthony Chen
I've seen this Cannes Short Film Special Distinction award winner when it was screened in the cinemas in Late June-Early July, and I think it's one film that could stand the test of time.
My earlier review of this short can be found here, and this was what I thought about it:
Made on a budget of S$10,000, it is without a doubt that Ah Ma is well shot. Veering to the artistic film corner, it is a contemplative yet simplistic piece which is based on Anthony's own Ah Ma on her deathbed, and the camera capturing a snapshot of the moment, of the emotions felt by each member of the family. With some recognizable faces from local television and movies, I thought the scene stealer was the little boy, whom I thought was a character perfectly captured during times of impending death - the childlike innocence unaware of the grief of the immediate family, and continues to behave as such in its own little world, unburdened by any thoughts of remorse and regret, of perhaps not spending enough time, or perhaps losing the opportunity to make amends of sorts.
Embryo - Loo Zihan
The clue to interpreting this experimental short is in the title itself. Having seen some of Zihan's earlier shorts and Solos (co-directed by Kan Lume), Zihan is a very visual person, and uses abstraction to bring his ideas across. Almost always without dialogue, he gives the audience space to interpret the images on screen, and here, there's only actress Ruby Pan as a schoolgirl in her pinafore, stuck in a courtyard, with red pails, eggs, red dye and plenty of water to rival Japanese horror movies. With a background soundtrack of bubbles underwater, how else would you interpret the short?
Elefant - Willie Koh
Based on Cyril Wong's poem "If, Else", Elefant tells a story about a boy's internal quest to find out more about his father, who had left the family, for reasons best to find out yourself from the movie. There's the recurring elephant motif which I thought was a metaphor for memory, and the story isn't your typical straightforward narrative, with some scenes I thought were unnecessary, and dialogue a bit stilted.
5 Steps To Becoming An Actor - Kan Lume
After two heavy shorts and the material the earlier three dwelled upon, this was like a godsend to elevate the mood. I thought 5 Steps was done in a visual style similar to Kan Lume's earlier short The Art of Flirting, and it chronicled quite astutely some of the challenges faced by aspiring actor wannabes. Jacen Tan's Zo Gang provided the predicament of budding filmmakers and musicians in the first week of this edition of Short Cuts, and 5 Steps complimented that piece on the last week. Rodney Olivero stars as Nicholas, whose wife, played by Marilyn Lee, thinks he's a good for nothing as he idles at home watching DVDs all day, while the audience is in the know about how difficult things can get for Nicholas, especially one devoid of talent.
If you're interested to know just what the 5 Steps are that Kan Lume has shared, highlight the following:
Step 1: Love the Media. Step 2: Lose Your Job. Step 3: Star in a Short Film. Step 4: Believe In Yourself. Step 5: Take Risks.
Katong Fugue - Boo Junfeng
One of the shorts chosen for the media preview, Katong Fugue is an adaptation of Alfian Sa'at's play in Asian Boys Volume II. Winning the Special Jury Prize in this year's Singapore International Film Festival, it's essentially a dialogue heavy piece between a mother and her son, about hurt and not wanting to hurt, about love and acceptance. But dialogue heavy doesn't necessarily equate to boring visuals, and Junfeng manages to marry the two together effectively, bringing about an effective translation of the material from stage to film.
The filmmakers were all present today for a Q&A session, moderated by Zhang Wenjie from the National Museum and Kristin Saw from the Substation.
LtoR: Willie Koh, Zhang Wenjie, Anthony Chen, Boo Junfeng, Kristin Saw
Kristin: Perhaps we can start by each of you sharing a bit about your thoughts, and anything about your film you want to share?
Zihan: This is the first public screening of Embryo. It's a collaborative piece with Ruby Pan (the actress). She contributed a lot to the process and the text on which this film is based upon.
Wenjie: Zihan and Kan Lume had done Solos, and Embryo was made at an interesting period...
Zihan: Yes. Embryo was done right after Solos. Solos had many surreal scenes and empty spaces. Embryo came out at the time of experimenting, and probably dug out of the subconscious and working with space. It was done independently though, not with Kan.
Willie: This is also the debut screening of Elefant here. It was made last June and is based liberally on Cyril Wong's poem "If, Else". It was a very long poem, and I took several lines which inspired. The whole short film sprung from those lines, exploring the boy's character in a situation of what if his father was gay.
Anthony: I guess this must have been made known many times already. This short was made because my ah ma (grandmother) had passed away 2 years ago. It was a film I needed to make. So I was telling the people I make films with about what I want to do, to capture the moments I saw, heard and felt, they too wanted to make the film.
Junfeng: I saw Katong Fugue two years ago, and had adapted it with Alfian Sa'at's (the playwright) permission.
Kan: My film was made during the Panasonic Digital Film Fiesta where it made it as a finalist, and Panasonic provided the equipment and some lighting for this 15 minute film.
Kristin: Making film is often a collaborative process, and you guys obviously have your own crew with whom you work together. Could you comment about that?
Kan: Collaboration definitely helps. I met Zihan at an activity organized by the National Museum, and had seen his works. I thought an amalgamation would produce something interesting, and that worked out to be Solos.
Willie: I am grateful and appreciative for Cyril's full permission. The filmmaking process is a collaboration with the DPs, composers, etc and it is interesting to see how people read the film and add to the film. My music composer saw the film after completion and contributed music to other places, which I eventually took out. Having such inputs allows the film to be known in more ways.
Junfeng: I'm all for collaboration. I sent Alfian the treatment, and he liked it, so I shot it! In wanting to know more about making films, Alfian now turned out to be my script supervisor for my latest film, and is very meticulous. For the most times for short films I can't afford to pay my crew, and I'm glad I have a team of people whom I can really rely on. I hope that with more credibility, there'll be more money, with which I can distribute to the crew more lor!
Q (for Zihan): I interpreted your film as a woman who is going to give birth, from the way it was designed, and the sound. I am curious about how the crane shot was done.
Zihan: Yes I did use a crane. It's a one take thing, as Ruby could do it only once. What you see from the film is how you choose to interpret it. It's your freedom and your choice.
Wenjie (for Anthony): All of us think your film is a success since it won a Special Mention in Cannes. Could you tell us how the film was selected for Cannes?
Anthony: Like many filmmakers you send your DVD screeners to festivals! It was memorable how we received the news. I had just finished a project and haven't slept for 48 hours. When I got home, I received a call from France, and was told of Ah Ma's selection. I was dumbfounded, and the caller repeated himself again, and told me to stay tuned to the website!
Wenjie: How many festivals did you send your film to?
Anthony: Cannes was the second festival that we sent to, so we're actually quite lucky.
Q (for Junfeng): How did you link the storyline to Katong, and what are you trying to convey?
Junfeng: The challenge was to adapt the text as fully as possible for film. The text is rather elevated, and I had to bring that language done for film. Katong was already very much in the text. For film, it provides a setting, and I had to juxtapose the images together.
Wenjie: Do you stay in Katong?
Junfeng: No, I stay in Changi! *chuckles* I studied in Chung Cheng High, and the bus number 10 I took shuttles between Katong and Changi.
Q (for Anthony): I'd like to ask about the casting process, as your film had good performances from a spectrum of older people, and kids.
Anthony: The phase I hate most is casting. It's a difficult process, and I had many auditions for Ah Ma. Thankfully I have a good friend who does casting, and knows many people. This is an ensemble cast with no main actor, and it wouldn't work if the cast do not gel together. I remember the little kid, who was 4 years old at the time, was very hard to direct. What we were looking for, is akin to, sorry ah, training a dog - we're looking for "play-drive", sort of like fetch-get. The kid we chose was focused and took instructions well. The ah ma character chosen was actually 77 years old, and was chosen because she somehow looked like my own grandmother. In fact, the number of aunties and uncles portrayed in the film corresponds to my own family members, and they looked similar too. They were impressions from real life.
Q: What was your family's reaction to the film?
Anthony: I didn't tell them that I was making the film. Only my friends knew about it. I remember the first time it was screened for the family, it was during my grandma's one year death anniversary. When we came home after paying our respects, my brother suddenly took the DVD and played it! Everyone kept quiet and no one talked about it. I guess for them it was an awkward film.
Wenjie (to Kan): This version of the short is very different from the Fiesta version. Could you tell us what are the differences, and why?
Kan: For the Fiesta, there's the deadline, and because of the rush to complete it, it looked quite experimental, compared to this more narrative version. A year after it was first made, I pieced it together again. It was improvised, without a script. It was quite autobiographical in some ways, as I put in some experiences with my wife. My philosophy when making the film was to take risk, and go without a script. I arrive on set without any idea what to do, and developed this phrase "chase the energy". I have a friend who stays at a shophouse, and it was a perfect location, so I went with it. I went to a play and saw Rodney Olivero, I thought he was suitable for the role so I approached him. Somehow I develop impulses and ideas on the spot, through a stream of consciousness, and went ahead to shoot things. 5 Steps developed from an idea of a couple with rental problems, and a man who wanted to be an actor.
Q (for Kan): Why did you choose to have Chinese oldies as the background music?
Kan: This started 2 years before the film. I did a short film with a friend who tried to smuggle an air rifle back. We thought that it was a waste if we did not do something in case he got caught. So we did a story about a wannabe assassin. At the time we were listening to a lot of Chinese oldies, and they sit in nicely, culturally, with the images. I tried to use classical music, but they don't fit somehow.
Q: What was most difficult in your production?
Kan: It's usually the finances. I did not just want to wait when I made my first feature, hence it was something that cost S$300 (re: Art of Flirting). I could wait for a bigger budget to do something better, and am finding producers.
Zihan: Embryo was difficult as I had to do everything myself, like the DP and the sound, but luckily Ruby made it easier. It was difficult to sell the story to someone...
Wenjie: But you did manage to sell it to Ruby!
Zihan: *chuckle* Yes, and vice versa as well! I had enough time to work on it, and did it in little digestable chunks. But it was still very exhausting!
Willie: The script, where you start to search for things where they can be ambiguous, and you might end up nowhere. But scripting is rewarding, as it forms the backbone of films.
Anthony: The 4 day shoot for Ah Ma was the most difficult shoot for me, and my crew complained that it was terrible to work for my films! The first two days were 18 hour days. My core team slept 4 hours for 3 days, and we also forgot to eat for 2 days! There was quite a lot of waiting as many scenes were emotional. We had to wait for the actors to come up to leve, especially the little kid. I'll be honest, I had a lot of walkouts on the film, from a crew of 20 down to 6 persons on the third day.
Junfeng: My shoot was very easy. Changi Murals was a 5 day shoot, and I made it a point after that to make my shoots easy. This one had a lot of closeups. The hardest part was casting. Geting Swee Lin was a breeze. The gruelling casting sessions for the boy was memorable. There were some very weird people who came to the auditions, though they were enthusiastic because it's Alfian's play, but I had trouble determining if those folks who turned up were casting for the mother, or the son's role! *chuckles* It took 3 full weekends to do the casting, then Luke came and everything worked out.
Q (for Zihan and Willie): Your films are not straightforward, narrative films. When poeple interpret your film, what is the experience like, if you're ok if they interpret it in a totally different manner from your intent?
Zihan: I felt quite stressed when my film was screened right after Anthony's! I've learnt to let go after the film is done. People can hate it or like it, and my intention as a filmmaker was to provoke a response.
Willie: The works are open for interpretation and it is hard to control reactions. It is interesting to see how others read your work, and how their views are different from yours. It makes you constantly aware of how the film would be framed, how it is coded and decoded, whether it strays too far from the source. I'm still learning, and figuring how much to put into a film, or take out.
Wenjie: The film was screened in festivals overseas. How was the reaction of audiences, and what were their comments or interpretation?
Willie: I went to the one at Rotterdam in February this year, and the audience asked specific questions, like the references used and the meaning of the elephant. Sometimes I wonder if it is my fault that things are not clear, or ambiguous.
At this point, one member of the audience asked about how to pronounce, or made a mispronounciation of the word "fugue". To know how, perhaps it is best to let Junfeng say it in his own words, and you can refer to his blog entry here.
Q (to Kan): How was it like shooting without a script?
Kan: It was maybe in response to 2 years ago where I had made films with a script. It requires a certain level of confidence, though I had to admit that I had equipment covered, and there's already a screening venue. It's liberating to have done a film without a script. There's a lot of personal themes that found their way into the film, which was scary at first, but the crossing of boundaries was therapeutic in finding yourself.
Q: What is your opinion in becoming a successful actor or actress, and for Willie, what do you think of the Singapore film industry?
Junfeng: First, you have to know how to pronounce the title of the film at least! *laughs* (in response to an earlier question) Seriously, I approach professional and non-professional actors differently.
Anthony: I can't directly answer the question. I look for actors with screen presence.
Kan Lume then shared about his views of the local film industry, from a review I did about 2 years back, which you can read about here.
Willie: I guess it's the ability to emphatize with people. Perhaps the onus is on the director? Being in the right environment, the right context, or being coaxed can help too.
Wenjie: To end off our Q&A, perhaps everyone could share what your next project is, and if you have any finals words for the final day of the 4th Singapore Short Cuts.
Junfeng: I'm working on the Lucky7 project. It's a very collaborative film involving 7 directors. It's an omnibus which should be completed by late this year. It's currently in audio post stage. I've also just finished a short called Homecoming, and hopefully it should be out later this year.
Anthony: I'm in the midst of casting for another film, and then I'll be headed for the UK for studies for 2 years.
Willie: I'm toying with story and script ideas. I'm taking to writing, and I'm happy if it stays on paper. I'm embarking on a search and see what I can find.
Zihan: I'm shooting a documentary, which is part of schoolwork actually, which I have 2 more years to complete. And I'm also tying up the loose ends for Solos. The documentary is a personal documentary about my mum and her reaction to the media hype around Solos, and how the family has changed because of the movie.
Kan: We're going to Pusan for Solos. I'm hoping to do something which is a balance between reality, fantasy and dream. It'll take about a year before I see the results. It's more of a reflection of spirituality, I've been widening the breadth of my works, and now I'm going to go deeper in scope.
Photo Credits: Richard Lim
And that wraps up this edition of the Singapore Short Cuts. As the number of attendees increase, and already we have witnessed full house screenings for all 4 weeks, Wenjie mentioned that there will be possibilities of two screenings for each weekly session for next year's edition. This is indeed good news for those who have conflicting schedules, or were afraid of making a wasted trip this time round.
Looking forward to next year's edition already! Meanwhile, stay tuned to the National Museum website, as its cinematheque is gearing itself for some serious movie screenings for this month. I'll post some of those up in another entry soon.
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