Fooism: Keep the images moving and the blood will flow
The Substation recently celebrated its tenth year driving its own moving images programme. Ten years is an apt time to look back and appreciate where the programme has brought us, and examine where it can possibly bring us.
A decade ago, Substation was one of the earliest venues, if not the only place that offered the audience a glimpse of independent cinema in Singapore. The programme was fronted as Moving Images, which differentiated itself from other Substation support for other art-forms such as dance and theatre.
Film screenings, film talks, and even training seminars were conducted and open to anyone who wanted to become a filmmaker.
Singaporeâ€™s very own have also evolved from Substation. Just ask any prominent young filmmaker who has started out making short films; and all of them would admit to have their works premiered and screened at the Substation. All of them would also admit to have frequented the Substation to watch other film works.
Some people shun the Substation, claiming that its too â€˜localâ€™ and had a programme that never attracted â€˜brandedâ€™ guests, and hence unworthy of sacrificing a night to glean the world of cinema.
On the contrary, I would like to set the record straight, for as far as I know, I have attended, met, shared and learned much from the following guests which the Substation have brought in:
One American filmmaker came to Singapore to share his first short film with us as part of the Short-shorts programme. He eventually directed â€˜Thank you for Smokingâ€™, a critical and resonating box-office hit. He is Jason Reitman.
Another is a quiet but passionate Thai film student screened his graduating film â€˜Luang Taâ€™ at the Substationâ€™s Asian Film Symposium. His name is Pakphoon Wongpaiboon, and he is the director of â€˜Shutterâ€™ and â€˜Aloneâ€™ Â¬â€“ two Thai films which have shaken the cinema seats and the box office coffers.
An amicable Chinese Beijing Academy film student was invited to show his digital short film at the Substation, where we had many chats on whether digital will take over celluloid. He is Du Jie, and he went on to be the director of photography of Chinaâ€™s highest grossing opening weekend film ever â€“ â€˜The Crazy Stoneâ€™ â€“ shot predominantly on digital.
Two women film professionals took time off from their busy work schedules to showcase their short film project. They were both costume and special effects make-up for short film â€˜Roachâ€™, and helped out during their lull months from feature production. They are Magali Guidasci (costume designer) and Beate Eisele (special effects make-up artist). They came to Singapore and went down to the Substation to share their knowledge and experience. Between the two of them, they have been involved in highly commercial films such as Alien VS Predator, Armageddon, Leon the Professional, The Incredible Hulk, Godzilla, Planet of the Apes, Men in Black, the Ring and Fantastic Four 2 â€“ just to name a few â€“ and I use this phrase loosely.
This is the history and this is the legacy that the Substationâ€™s Moving Images programme has built. Would any other institution have lain this heritage in contribution to the industry and its art form?
Right now, Singapore has more than doubled cinema screening spaces for the alternative voice, with Sinema Old School being the newest and most progressive in its approach to drum up Singapore film culture. It is very exciting to see the new matched with the established in this climate. Synergies are endless and the beneficiaries can only be filmmakers who want screening spaces; and film thespians who are hungry for spectrums of filmed content ranging from the intellectual to the entertaining.
Be it fate or be it coincidence, there is no denying that the Substationâ€™s role in the climate of Singapore cinema is resolute.
Happy 10th Birthday!