Saturday, November 14, 2009

WFFBKK '09: Capsule reviews part 3

Short Wave Program 2

This is a collection of seven shorts of differing styles from various countries.

  • Autosuggestion by Vasilis Siafakas and Chrysa Kalfi (Greece) -- I enjoyed the surrealistic art installations and performance-art pieces that were visions for a man who lives alone in an abandoned house in the woods. Is he a ghost, or are the "others" the ghosts?
  • Home by Filippi Francesco (Italy) -- This story of a woman who becomes trapped in a mysterious house has an old-timey silent-film feel to it, even though it's in color. Also, appropriately, it's shot with a webcam, though maybe Mac users will not get why.
  • Kissing Faces by Wesley Leon Aroozoo (Singapore) -- A repeat view from this year's Singapore Shorts Festival. The second time around was better for me and this story of a karaoke-bar hostess who wishes her life were like the videos.

  • Nekro by CJ Andluz (Philippines) -- Some twisted goings on at a funeral home.
  • Flashed by Julian Krubasik (Scotland) -- A photo booth has a transformative effect on a man who becomes obsessed with having his picture taken.
  • Until The Morning Comes by Lucky Kuswandy and Moonaya (Indonesia) -- I blacked out during most of this one. Sorry.
  • Kitchen Sink by Seymour Barroz Sanchez and Ginalyn Dulla (Philippines) -- The contentious history of U.S. military forces in the Philippines is relayed by radio broadcasts and newspaper headlines while the drama of a young woman and her soldier lover and a crazy woman who spies on them plays out. The story is inspired by the 2005 case of rape of a Filipina by an American soldier.
  • Click In Fear by Saikyaw Khaing (Burma/Thailand) -- This is another facet to the Burma VJ story of the Buddhist monks' protests in Rangoon in 2007 -- it's the story of a photographer who took a picture of young monk with an upturned alms bowl, which was carried worldwide by the European Press Agency and became an iconic symbol for the movement. The photojournalist, a Karen man who's left Burma for hjis own safety, weeps when he wonders what's happened to the people he photographed.

My main reason for wanting watch this package was to see Click in Fear, and they young festival staff running the screening almost didn't show it, until I told them they had skipped one of the films. So I'm glad I saw it, as it turned out to be my favorite of this batch. (4/5)

Echo from the Well: I Can Hear the Mekong Weep by Pipope Panitchpakdi (Thailand) -- Nation Group editor-in-chief Suthichai Yoon travels the length of the Mekong, talking to people about how their livelihoods are being affected by the dams built by China. In Tibet, he witnesses rapidly melting snow. If there is no snow, where will the river go, and what will be the point of the dams? He meets some pretty interesting people along the way, including a communist former friend who's lived in China since the 1960s, the last king of the Tai people of Xishuangbanna (Sipsongpanna) and a old fisherman who says it's harder to haul in a day's catch. There's even a look at Thailand's folly on the Mekong's tributary, the Mun River and the Pak Mun Dam, which has not fulfilled its promise of creating electricity and in turn disrupted fishing. More than a story of the river -- lifeblood to seven countries -- it's also Suthichai's story. As scripted by The Nation's arts-and-culture editor Manote Tripathi, the 70-minute documentary (edited from a 10-hour TV mini-series) takes Suthichai back to Songkhla in southern Thailand, where he grew up on a rubber plantation, and back to the well he used to draw water from as a boy, and where he says he learned many life lessons. It's now overgrown with vegetation. The sense of community that existed around the well is being shattered by the dams on the Mekong. Suthichai says he was surprised to learn that Songkhla Lake is fed in part by distributaries that trickle down from the Mekong. (4/5)

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