Singaporean director Charles Lim headed to 68th Venice Film Festival
Singaporean director Charles Lim’s short film, All The Lines Flow Out, has been selected to be in competition in the Orrizonti (New Horizons) category of the 68th Venice Film Festival, widely regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. This is the first time a Singaporean film will be competing in the Orrizonti section, which honours the more experimental and artistic films.
All The Lines Flow Out was originally a video installation commissioned by the Singapore Biennale 2011 to be presented at the Biennale. The Singapore Art Museum, the organiser for the SB 2011, has since acquired the video work and is proud to be part of this exhilarating journey in enabling Lim to realize the piece, and to continue supporting the presentation and exhibition of his work on other international platforms.
This 21-minute film certainly deserves to be described as ‘experimental’ for being so different from the rest. All The Lines Flow Out was shot in super wide angle, almost 3:1, as compared to 1.85:1 or 2.39:1, the aspect ratios most films are normally shot in. What is most interesting, is that the film is about the canals in Singapore AKA, the ‘Longkangs’.
Paolo Bertolin, Consultant, Venice Film Festival praised the film, saying : “All The Lines Flow is a stunning symphony of mesmerizing images that seduces the viewer and leads him to the most unexpected and unusual visual travellogue of Singapore. Through its images and sounds, Charles Lim’s film goes well beyond the territory of representation and ventures into the daring fields of pure experience.”
We have had the pleasure of speaking to Charles to find out more about his interesting works, some behind the scenes stories and future projects
What inspired you to make this film?
“It was initially an idea for a short film I wanted to shoot, but after posting the idea online, an organizer from the Singapore Biennale contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do a video installation for them and from there it developed into something else.”
Why did you choose to shoot your film in such a wide aspect ratio?
“I first started shooting this project on a Canon 5D with a 16:9 aspect ratio. But I was not happy with how the footage turned out, because with that aspect ratio you would not be able to see the walls of the canals and it didn’t look nice that way.
I had actually spent months shooting with the 5D, but in the end decided to reshoot everything with an anamorphic lens instead. It was kinda like Frankenstein, like mixing two lenses together and I was able to get this very wide aspect ratio.
Something interesting also was that I stopped using the 5D because I was unable to get very wide shots with everything in focus. In the end I switched to the GH1, a much cheaper camera.”
How long did the whole filmming process take?
From the moment I started work on this, it took me about 2 – 3 years
So how was the filming experience like? Walking around in the canals, etc
“At first it was very peaceful and nice, and I kind of romanticized the canals when I first went in. Until one day 3 of my crew members and myself fell sick and I thought, wah this is terrible. The canals are actually quite a dangerous place.
But some interesting experiences were the people’s reactions to us shooting in the canals, because no one expected us to be there. I remember one day a group of kids started throwing tissue papers at us, and even asked me for permission to. I let them do it on the condition that they let me film them throwing tissues at us, and I did get the shot of them.”
How did you first react when you found out your film was selected to be in competition at the Venice Film Festival?
“I was very very surprised. I’m glad that the film will have a chance to travel to more places, rather than just the Singapore Biennale.”
How did the organizers of the Venice Film Festival come to know about this film?
“I was actually working on another project about a Singaporean guy who started a coal mining company in another country. It was interesting because this guy was a millionaire but he still chose to stay in a very basic living environment. I had a lot of footage of explosions, coal mining and stuff like that, and some of the organizers of the Venice Film Festival were interested in this project. But it was not complete yet so I told them, sorry this is not ready yet, but I have this (All The Lines Flow Out) instead.”
What are your plans after Venice?
“I have been recently selected for a funding called the Arts Creation Fund (ACF), and will use it for my next project called Sea State. It will revolve around the waters surrounding Singapore. If you notice, all my works have a particular theme to them – water.
It is also actually a kind of wordplay, sailors use the term Sea State to refer to the condition of the sea. Sea State 1 being very calm, to Sea State 9 being hurricane-like. The second meaning of this is like Singapore being a Sea State. The idea of it is to reverse the roles of the land and sea of Singapore.”
If there is one piece of advice you would give to local filmmakers, what would it be?
“I don’t think it really matters if you are creating something grand or simple, what is important is that you create a space for yourself to keep doing what you love to do. Be it on an expensive camera or your mobile phone, I think these days it’s more about the story and the emotions you are able to evoke”