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Sinema Showoff! Random Picks not so random

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Despite of a downpour, a full house audience was present for Sinema Showoff! Random Picks on 29 November.

As the last curated programme of 2010, Sinema Showoff! Random Picks consisted of films that did not fit into Showoff!’s regular monthly themed-programme earlier.

Despite of its title, the films had much in common in terms of pre-production mechanics. The films screened include music video Mindroots, HIV documentary A New Hope, Lion’s Pride, Colours, Epiphany and Hotel 66.

During the Question and Answer session, an audience observed that “little girls” were more commonly used as the protagonist and raised the question as to whether the use of “little girls” characters was meant evoke certain emotions.

While Chermaine Ong, director of documentary A New Hope, replied that it was not a choice for her as it happens that her interviewees were young girls, Lee Cheetian, director of Colours said that it was intentional in his film.

Colours is about a colourblind girl’s journey to find colours in her life, and her eventual realization that too much of a good thing isn’t really good.

“Scientifically, colour blind does not affect girls as much as boys. A story with a colour blind boy wouldn’t be as interesting,” he said.

“When a boy play soccer, the ball is still black and white but a girl can’t see her colourful stuff like her dress. It would have been stereotyping but it was intentional.”

Similarly, Anthony Chen’s film Hotel 66, chose to swop the stereotypical gender roles of female prostitute and male security guard in his film.

“What makes a film interesting is stereotyping, and you play with archetypes, but a lot of times you realise that dramatisation becomes really boring. And a lot of good films are not subjected to expectations of stories and characters.”

Wesley Leon Aroozoo and Anthony Chen

Lion’s Pride, directed by Wesley Leon Arazoo, was shot in Cantonese and was a narration of the life of Lion Dance Lions. While these creatures dances a celebratory dance during Chinese New Year to usher in prosperity, it is left abandoned, jobless and to fend for itself for the rest of the year.

“I wrote a horror story, but we didn’t manage to shoot it, and so we tried to change it. For some reason, this popped into my mind.”

He added that the reason behind using Cantonese was because he found it fitting for his film, and it has always been his preference to work with other languages aside from English to “trouble myself”.

Han Xuemei, director of Epiphany, said that the choice of using four languages (English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean) was meant to show a universal theme of love.

” For us, language tell us a lot about someone. In our film, we tried to portray this theme that is very universal, so we thought we could include languages even outside of Singapore, like Korean,” she explained.

“We hoped to show a universal theme of love and the things we share in common despite of the language differences. And personally, I like to hear different tongues and different languages coming together.”

Han Xuemei

In contrast, Chen’s Hotel 66 was not meant to focus on the cultural differences. Rather, he wanted to focus on the claustrophobia and the yearning for common grounds between the two Asian main leads in London.

“I’ve always believed that a story dictates the style. While it (Hotel 66) was not intentionally shot with reference to Wong Kar-wai’s style, sometimes we do get inspired, and we can’t control what comes out of our subconscious mind.”

When asked why he chose to make films in the UK, he said, “There were a lot of possibilities that I can’t do over here because no one is watching Singaporean films. And the budget for Singaporean films is going lower and lower every year. Because of that, the quality and production of the films have dropped over the past few years. It’s going to make it hard for us (Singaporean filmmakers) to fight with your big Hollywood productions.”

“I know that this event (Sinema Showoff!) is free, but when people have to pay, I realise that it’s a different story. I’ve policy called ‘Tell Ten’, which started in the UK – if you watched a Singaporean film and you like it, tell 10 people and make sure that they watch it, because then perhaps we will have a national cinema.”

On 21 December, Sinema Showoff! Curator’ Picks will be showcasing some of the best films from the Sinema Showoff! season curated by Singapore Polytechnic this year.

All directors will be coming back for this session for an interactive Q&A session moderated by Ramasamy Rajesree, Guest Curator – Sinema Showoff! (Season 2010).


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