5th Fly by Night Video Challenge

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Drop in to watch the newest videos this Sunday 2-6ish pm at La Salle College of the Arts, Basement 1, Foundation Room, 1 Mcnally Street
(Pictures are from the 2006 edition at 72-13)

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The theme this year is “still”

An idea of film

This is the  manifesto for a documentary film festival in Spain

At “Punto de Vista”, we believe…

That the first thing that film looked at was reality.
But fantasy has a part to play in the so-called documentary image.
That reality is simulation; and the real a mystery.
That cameras long to film the unfilmable, the invisible, time.
That film reinvents itself over and over again with every shot.
That the documentary is film as a subversive art.
That form is a filmmaker’s primary ethical commitment.
That filming can only be understood as a knowledge process.
We believe in images which would seem to have been created for the first and last time.
That the audience creates.
And films watch us.
That only form preserves vision.
We believe in documentaries which question the world.
In documentaries as vision. And creation.
That each film constructs the audience. Invents the audience.
That the screen is a meeting-point.
And the festival, a territory where film is thought up.
And we get to know each other through the vision of others.
From other points of view.

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In grad school Lee Kyong Hee and Lee Wook Jung made the warmest soups during the coldest nights that had me over to their home more often than was polite. We lost touch so I was very happy to see them again after all these years in Seoul. Kyung Hee who picked up photography when I met her has now published two monographs. Wook Jung, as passionate as ever still makes documentaries. Half way through the evening, Kyung Hee asked me “Do you miss Evanston?”

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After Pusan, in Seoul, I spoke in Park Yeo Nah’s (far right) documentary filmmaking class at the Sook Myung Women’s University. Later another friend Kim Hee Sun invited me to talk at her world music class, she had showed them Singapore GaGa. In both classes I was introduced as a Singapore film director who had just come from Pusan.

Pink Paddlers, Sunday 7.30pm, Channel News Asia

Pink Paddlers gave me an idea of what it was like to suffer from breast cancer. No it wasn’t an hour long documentary about the travails of chemotherapy. I shrink from that kind of documentary. Instead, it took me to many places, the dragon boat competition and a dance class. The one trip that was most memorable was when I went along to a shopping trip with one of the protagonists to buy a wig to hide her baldness caused by chemotherapy. As she tried out different ones it was alternately funny (she looked like Cleopatra), poignant and educational (where to get good wigs) all at the same time. The whole documentary is delicately balanced like that. Jasmine Ng its all too humble director did a great job. I recommend everyone watch it because it gives you an idea what your wife, sister, mother may have to go through.

Seriously do not miss it, this Sunday, Channel News Asia, Documentary of the Week, 7.30pm

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Breast Cancer Foundation members and Jasmine , Director (in green) at the Premiere of Pink Paddlers

Can dance a little

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At Pusan, not quite by accident, we Southeast Asian filmmakers fell in together drinking every night with different people joining us each night. In typical Asean fashion, the Singaporeans amongst us, myself and Kan Lume (“Solos”) could not drink, could not sing, not even a little. So they humoured us while we sipped teaspoons of shochu (korean saki, sorry I keep using Jap references) and they downed bottle after bottle of that stuff in our favourite faux Japanese bar Minami

Picture L-R, Aditya Assarat (Thai Director, Wonderful Town), Soros (Producer, Wonderful town), Kan Lume, Miyonne Lee (PIFF guest co-ordinator), Cherubic Liew Seng Tat (Director Flower in my Pocket, Malaysia), missing from this picture, Jim Meer Libiran (Filipino Director, Tribe) and his wife Michelle. As mentioned in a previous post, Seng Tat and Aditya Juke shared top prizes.

A picture of Seng Tat the morning after

Miss Hong

I don’t normally enjoy myself at big red carpet film festivals, Cannes made me depressed for instance, But here in Pusan, we felt at home as documentary directors, not just token minority representatives of the film ecosystem. It is due to the efforts of the PIFF documentary programmer Hong Hyosook and her team who carved out a space for documentaries here. As a result, the documentary programme is rich and varied, especially solid is the section of indie Korean documentaries.

Hyosook, or Ms Hong as she is known to her younger colleagues was a documentary film director herself, as is her sister. She came on board at PIFF 12 years ago to help out then she stayed on. Along the way she beefed up the documentary programme, helped set up the Asian Network of Documentary Fund which funded part of Invisible City. She said one day, she may go back to making documentaries again. I wish I took a picture of her. She is one cool lady.

Invisible at NTU & SAM

Invisible City is screening at the Nanyang Technological University

Date: Thurs, 25 Oct 2007
Time: 12.30pm – 1.30pm, I will be there for Q&A
Venue: LT 19

This event is open to ALL NTU students.
No registration required.

See you there

Invisible is also screening on 19 Oct (Fri) 3 and Nov (Sat) at the Singapore Art Museum, Glass Hall, $3/person. It is held in conjunction with the From Words to Pictures, Art during the Emergency exhibition which is an exhibition very worth seeing.

SUBSTATION BURMA CONCERT NO-GO

Just received this email from Emily, the marketing manager for the Substation. They police have at the last minute cancelled the Burma Peace concert. These cancellations seem less and less tenable more so because they always do it at the last minute, when everything is already organised. The recent Tunnel Party (civil society gathering, with stalls and music) had the rug pulled at the last minute too. Cancelled at the 11th hour, just when you think you got it in the bag – just cos they can, just to break you.

Dear supporters of The Substation & Timbré, The Peace Concert for Burma that we were planning to present tomorrow will need to be postponed. The police informed us today that we cannot hold the concert outdoors, because it is “cause” related.

We are in the process of re-scheduling the event for sometime in November, and with a change in venue to an indoor location, namely The Substation Theatre.

We’ll keep you posted on the details once we have the required approvals.

Thanks for your understanding and support, and we’ll be in touch soon.

From The Substation and Timbré.

Recent Singapore Documentary 16-19 Oct

The indie documentary filmmaking scene in Singapore is hip hopping. The Asian Film Archive put together a rich and varied programme of recent Singapore documentaries. Check out the programme.

In Conversation

(In attendance: Wang Eng Eng, Joycelyn Khoo, Lo Hwei Shan, Chew Tze Chuan, Martyn See, Eng Yee Peng ) by the Asian Film Archive and National Library Board
Date: 21 October 2007
, Time: 2pm – 4pm.
Venue: library@esplanade, The Esplanade, #03-01 (Nearest MRT station: City Hall)

Screenings (16-19 Oct)

16 Oct Tue, 4pm, Singapore Chinese Girls School Lecture Theatre
Aki Ra’s Boys by James Leong and Lynn Lee

16 Oct Tue, 5pm, Nanyang Technological University, School of Arts, Design and Media, Level 2 Auditorium
Singapore Standard Time by Joycelyn Khoo & Serene Ng
Match Made by Mirabelle Ang Continue reading

Love, actually

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So I am in Seoul, and I just for the hell of it am staying at a budget hotel which in Korea is also a love hotel. It is clean and presentable, though the towels are small (who needs to shower!), it has one porn channel, one Go (Japanese chess) channel, red carpet and optional pink lighting. I even have a window.

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The love hotel turns out to be a lot less sleazy than I expected (I watch too much TV). Perhaps because its in the Yonsei University and Ehwa Unversity district, there are many younger couples. If its a straight couple, its the guy who pays, while his girl friend waits by his side with a bottle of drink and snacks bought from the near by Family Mart (7-11). No names are asked or given, a key is given and a small bag possibly containing condoms along with it. They are not shy, nor brazen, just matter of fact, actually

Invisible invited to Berlin 2008

Invisible City has been invited to premiere at Berlin 2008! Christoph the programmer saw it and contacted me. I am still recovering from shock. It will screen at the Forum section of the festival, which was set up to counterpoint the Competition section. Meanwhile, even more good news: Liew Seng Tat, “Flower in my Pocket”, a lovely film from Malaysia, together with Thai Aditya Assarat’s (Juke) “Wonderful Town” tied for the top prize in the Pusan’s New Currents Section. Singaporeans will know them well, they are regulars at Substation’s Asian Film Symposium. Great films, so happy for them.

Pusan #1

Invisible’s first screening on 7 Oct was sold out. But it could be because the film that I am bundled together with has a poster of school girls having sex. Check this poster out, I mean, if there was a poster that could pack audiences in, this is it. That documentary is called Secret in my Satchel.

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off to pusan

So its off to Pusan, in addition to new namecards, tee-shirts, freshly printed postcards, I brought running shoes and some vitamin C tablets. I may be inspired to run. (ha!). Taking other Singaporean films with me too.

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Pusan International Film Festival is run by an army of volunteers who are undergraduates. These two were waiting for me at the airport, in their special issue volunteer jackets

A visit

Two Zaobao (Singapore’s only Chinese broadsheet) articles by Low Pooi Fong about her visit to Ivan after watching Invisible City. She is retired from the papers but she still writes a weekly column. The tone is very personal yet not navel gazing.

06/09/2007
薰衣草 /普鲁林/ 刘培芳

打开抽屉,从长长名片匣的”生态环境”类别栏里,我找到了这
张名片。
蓝绿底色的名片上,印着一只昆虫爬在叶片上的黑影,一对触角
正伸向那名字:Dr Ivan Polunin。简简单单就一个名字,没有附上
任何职衔或专业。这张名片躺在抽屉里,恐怕已有十几年,如今在眼
下,感觉已是一分珍藏。地址上的邮区还是4位数的,电话号码当然也
不是以6字开头。
某年某月某个上午,我曾经和自然学会的一群朋友,造访普鲁林
在山景道半山上的家。那山坡旁的房子掩埋在绿林深处,与莽莽丛林
融为一体,庭园四周围长满美丽嫣红的野姜花,还有各种各类繁茂葱
茏的花草树木。 Continue reading