A few months ago, I highlighted a photo exhibition by Jeff Chouw at the Substation. The exhibition was about Singapore’s opposition candidate (only 1 of 2 here) Chiam See Tong’s campaign during last year’s General Elections. Jeff finally put these photos online. I have never seen opposition politicians given such arty finesing. They look really good. I asked Jeff, a marine-biologist-by-day what his next project was, he said “Geylang” (Singapore’s Red Light disctrict). He said he was interested in spaces that only men were privy to. For this series, there won’t be people in it, just spaces. Meanwhile, he broke his foot and is hobbling around. So the photography is put on hold until he can run again. He says “In case I am chased”.
In Macau, I spent my one free day on a walkabout with Bede Cheng (above). He had hoped over from Hong Kong (by jetfoil, one hour). Bede used to work at the Hong Kong Film Archive and he was keen to explore the nooks and crannies of Macau with me. He was literally a walking film encyclopedia. At random street corners, he would say, “Does this house not remind you of the house in xxyy”, or “Do you remember the 60’s Japanese gangster film xx, well the fight scene took place right here” or “This is the location where much of “Days of Being Wild” was filmed”. I enjoyed his running commentary tremendously. I was looking at the city with bifocals, switching between what was before me and what existed in the filmic world that I hadn’t seen and could only imagine.
Tee shirts are a great promotional and fundraiser tool. Tip: Do order women’s cut tees too if you want women to buy it ….and wear it. Most women went directly for the smaller more fitting cut rather than the boxy men’s cut.
pix: Jasmine Ng is seen here purveying quality Invisible City tees to my Mum’s cousin
The Asian Film Festival starts on 4 October. This year there is a special side bar showcasing of Malaysian Films. Included in the line up are works by Yasmin Ahmad (Muksin), the debut feature by Liew Seng Tat (which is running for the New Asian Currents Prize) which I am looking forward to, Amir’s Village People Radio Show, Deepak Menon’s latest “Dancing Bells” (he of “Gravel Road” about rubber tappers), and also Woo Ming Jin’s (Monday Morning Glory) latest feature. Also new shorts by Tan Chui Mui (Love Conquers All) and Ho Yuhang (Rain Dogs). Yes, I am pleased that so many of you are doing so well, that you were able to do all this with negligible government support and (perhaps because of that) you were able to keep close to your vision which has defined you. Yes, I am basking in the unearned glory by virtue of my close proximity to you. (plus my mother is Malaysian)
On the Singapore side, Invisible City is screening as is Solos, Pleasure Factory (set in Red light district Geylang), Ah Ma (Cannes short) and 881. But we got no special side bar programme lah, not yet!
Meanwhile From Thailand, Juke’s (Aditya Assarat) debut feature “Wonderful Town” is also in the running for the New Asian Currents Prize.
Macau is a tiny island city state, it is only 26 km2. This tiny space packs 500,000 people but it has only 2 cinemas! Singapore has 9 times more people (4.5mil) but 90 times more cinemas (we have 180 screens). Albert Chu my host said that people watch movies on pirated DVDs bought from Zhuhai across the causeway in China a 5 min drive away, so piracy killed the cinema spaces.
So with only 2 cinemas, CUT a film society (est 1999) that Albert Chu runs is well supported. He shows movies every Saturday night. It attracts an interesting range of people, from your newly graduated mass communication student to the semi retired blue collar worker who wants to learn more about movies. He says “Some have never even seen “Godfather”. They love movies but don’t know where to start, what to see, so they come here, I programme films they wouldn’t otherwise see”. In recent weeks, CUT showed Edward Yang (to commemorate his recent passing) and then Bergman’s Cries and Whispers (to also commemorate his recent passing) and finally Antonioni’s Blow Up (to commemorate his recent passing too). Before that, there was Fargo. In this mix, Singapore GaGa and Moving House were shown to the club members as a Thurs night special.
The screening room is basic, the audience sit on foldable ikea chairs that Albert unfurls before each screening, the projector is borrowed from a member. The screening space is situated in the ground floor of an old 4 storey shop house that used to be the studio of an artist. When the artist died, his widow rented ground floor to CUT and the upstairs space to a dance group. The vibe is chill, if we can call it that. Bede Cheng from Hong Kong whom I described this scene to said he felt nostalgic, he said Hong Kong in the 60’s had cineclubs like this too.
(Albert tests the projector before the screening)
About 25 people show up to watch GaGa and Moving House. From the Q&A in Mandarin and Cantonese, they seem to connect with the movies. Someone called Moving House a horror movie. Others talk about the films they want to make of Macau, things are changing too quickly they say, with the new Casinos, and all.
I ask Albert, how on earth he stumbled onto my films? He said, he saw the Singapore GaGa DVD in an independent hole-in-the-wall book store??????called Pinto Books. (????). As to how Singapore GaGa came to be on sale in Pinto books, Macau, that is worthy of another blog entry. But for now, a cell phone portrait of the (rather shy) Macau members of Cut!