Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Truth Be Told in Singapore

The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong is the sole Thai entry in the massive program of the Singapore International Film Festival, which runs from April 4 to 14.

Directed by Pimpaka Towira, The Truth Be Told is an epic-scale documentary that follows three and half years in the life of Supinya, a media activist who was sued by the Shin Corporation for stating that the company had benefited from the policies of the administration of Thaksin Shinawatra, whose family owned the company. The documentary is snapshot of a turbulent period in Thai politics, from the Thaksin years, the anti-Thaksin backlash that arose after Thaksin sold his share in Shin to Singapore's Temasek Holdings, and the military coup that ousted Thaksin.

The Asian Cinema section of the program has dozens of Southeast Asian films of interest. These include not one, not two, but three new films by Malaysia's James Lee, Breathing in Mud, Waiting for Love and his much-anticipated horror film Histeria. Lee also stars in the award-winning Flower in the Pocket by Da Huang Pictures cohort Liew Seng Tat.

Another tantalizing entry is Death in the Land of Encantos, a nine-hour work by Lav Diaz, about a poet who returns to his hometown just after it's been hit by a typhoon. Nine hours.

There's a couple of classic old Vietnamese films: Little Girl of Hanoi from 1974 and Mrs. Tu Hau from 1963. And, for new-school Vietnamese cinema lovers: Charlie and Johnny Nguyen's The Rebel.

The festival checks in with Cambodia's Rithy Panh, showing his latest, Paper Cannot Wrap Up the Embers, a documentary about young Cambodian women forced into prostitution.

From Indonesia is 1987's Sharp Gravel, about a pair of woman (Christine Hakim and Wenty Anggaini) set adrift in the region's migrant labor market, going from jail, to working as servants in a wealthy household to work in a textile factory.

Just the Asian Cinema program is overwhelming. I didn't even look at the World Cinema. There's a Singapore Panorama just for films from the city-state. Among the films there is Lucky 7, in which seven directors engage in an exquisite corpse exercise, with one actor tying the seven segments together.

(Via Welcome to My Evil Liar)

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