Friday, February 1, 2008

See the Invisible City at the Fringe

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the Bangkok Fringe Festival, and how it has films as part of its schedule of cutting-edge, contemporary performing arts. Well, it's past time for a reminder. Ahead of the first film programs this weekend, The Nation's Weekend section has a story about the screenings, and an interview with the Thai Film Foundation's Chalida Euabumrungjit.

The "See the S.E.A." program offers a wealth of short films and features from Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Here is what Chalida has to say about it:

The program consists of short films and digital features from up-and-coming film-makers from Southeast Asia. For the short films, "S-Express" is the program in which we aim to promote young talent. You can see the future of Southeast Asian cinema from here.

Undeniably, there has been a phenomenal awareness on the international film festival circuit of independent film-makers from Southeast Asia. Names like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Garin Nugroro and Lav Diaz are no longer strangers. In this program, I would like to introduce the next wave. They are names that might not be too familiar today, but you will hear more and more of them in the near future.

This weekend features packages of shorts from Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, as well as features from Malaysia and Thailand.

Screening tomorrow is Invisible City, a documentary about documentarians, by Singaporean director Tan Pin Pin. I think Bangkok is extremely fortunate to have this film. It is also screening at the Berlin International Film Festival as part of the Forum program. At the Fringe Festival, the one-hour long Invisible City is part of the S-Express Singapore package of short films.

The Malaysian features screening this weekend are Tan Chui Mui's Love Conquers All, which won the Tiger Award at the 2007 International Film Festival Rotterdam, and James Lee's Before We Fall In Love Again, which was picked as the best film by the ASEAN jury at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival.

From Thailand, there is Stories from the North, which director Uruphong Raksasad compiled from short films he made over the years in his rural northern Thailand hometown.

This is just the first weekend of films. There is another package put together on February 16 and 17, the highlight being the rarely screened, much acclaimed feature, Birth of Seanama by Sasithorn Ariyavicha. I'll detail more about the February 16-17 films in a future posting. Here's this weekend's schedule:

Saturday, February 2

1pm - S-Express Indonesia
  • Harap Tenang Ada Ujian! (Be Quiet, Exam is in Progress!) – The devastating 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake occurred exactly 10 days before elementary school examinations, and 14 days before the World Cup. (Directed by Ifa Ifansyah)
  • Kalah atau Menang (Lose or Win) – A pair of guys make a bet, and the one who loses must not only clean up their neighbourhood, but also the entire Codet River. (Directed by Donny Prasetyo Utomo)
  • Still Life - Four women of different nationalities fight over their own dignities. (Directed by Ariani Darmawan & Hosanna Heinrich)
  • Trophy Buffalo – Two feuding families strive to uphold family honour and pride in the arena of buffalo fights. (Directed by Vanni Jamin)
3pm, Love Conquers All - Ping has come from Penang to Kuala Lumpur to work with her aunt. She meets John, a young man who keeps trying to approach her. Ping feels increasingly attracted to him, and although she has a boyfriend back home, she is drawn more and more into his world. Ping loses herself in her love and does all she can to keep John. (Directed by Tan Chui Mui)

5pm, S-Express Singapore
  • 4 Days 3 Nights - A Singaporean’s obsession for a car is captured through the annual Subaru Impreza challenge. (Directed by Ming)
  • Blood Ties - After her son is murdered and the murderers turn up dead, Madam Lee begins to suspect if her daughter is actually involved. (Directed by Chai Yee Wei)
  • Dream a Rainbow - The video was made to promote the Singapore Uniquely website, highlighting some of the shots listed in the project. (Directed by Ming)
  • The Mole - Little Molly Parker fell sick. When Mr. Anderson, the family doctor, attended her for the first time, she secretly hoped for his next visits. But her wish would lead to an unexpected turn in her life. (Directed by Victric Thng)
  • Remember Me - If there was one thing in life finally worth living for, is it worth giving up everything else to keep it? (Directed by Chris Chong Chan Fui)
  • Stranger - A Chinese boy returns to Little India during Deepavali to reminisce a time when his close friends celebrated Singapore’s many cultural festivals together. (Directed by Boo Junfeng & Adrian Tan)
  • Sunat – A boy has to undergo a journey of “sunat” (circumcision) to graduate into manhood. (Directed by M. Raihan Halim)
  • Invisible City – A documentary about documenteurs, featuring interviews with photographers, journalists, archaeologists and people propelled by curiosity to find the meaning of Singapore for themselves. (Directed by Tan Pin Pin)
Sunday, February 3

1pm, S-Express Philippines
  • ABCD - Letters of the alphabet are presented in a twisted fashion using ink blots, ink animation and still pictures. (Directed by Roxless)
  • Chicken Soup 2 - One man is contemplating suicide, while another has to part with his three-year-old toothbrush. (Directed by R. A. Rivera)
  • it feels so good to be alive. - An orphan frame. A positive film. A sarcastic title. (Directed by Antoinette Jadaone)
  • Line Drawing - A video is made by drawing lines on the wall until the pencil was worn down. (Directed by Poklong Anading)
  • A Study for ‘The Skies’ - A man attempts to build a flying machine, to soar above the world. (Directed by Raymond Red)
  • Tag Along (Saling Pusa) A girl joins three men to play “pusoy”, a card game, which leads her to survive another dangerous game only adults play. (Directed by Antoinette Jadaone)

3pm, Before We Fall in Love Again - Chang's wife Ling Yue has been missing for a month. One day a man named Tong shows up and claims to be Ling Yue’s lover. Together the men form an uneasy alliance to find her. (Directed by James Lee)

5pm, Stories from the North – A series of short documentaries made over a number of years is re-edited into a cinematic collage of rural life in a northern Thailand village. (Directed by Uruphong Raksasad)

The Bangkok Fringe Festival is being held at Patravadi Theater, just across the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok. From the BTS skytrain's Saphan Taksin station, take the Chao Phraya River Express to Wang Lang pier.

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