Friday, July 18, 2008

Eastern vs Western ghosts and Rotterdam's 'Haunted House'

In an article in the Bangkok Post's Real Time section today, Kong Rithdee profiles Gertjan Zuilhof, programmer of the International Film Festival Rotterdam who's been responsible for the festival's strong Asian cinema sections.

He's been doing enticing things at Rotterdam, last year organizing "Happy Endings: When Festivals Are Over", which offered a DVD bazaar, a performance by a punk band during a silent-film screening and a futsal tournament inside a cinema. Next year he is planning another experimental sidebar event called "Haunted House", in which he plans to screen Southeast Asian horror films. Zuilhof was in Bangkok last week to ask Thai film directors to contribute.

The interview touches on the differences between Asian and Western horror, as well as the glut of Asian horror films and the "Hollywood fad" of remaking those films. Here's more (cache):

To me the specific quality of Southeast Asian horrors is the fact that the people who make them and the people who watch them actually believe in ghosts - not necessarily the ghosts on the screen, but the ghosts in their daily lives, or from childhood experiences, or from a story they've been told," says Zuilhof, who tours the region every year looking for new movies.

"This is a huge different from the European and American audiences, who see horror films for their stories, but it's not in the culture and actually traditionally forbidden by the religion. The Christian Church, for example, doesn't allow you to believe in anything else besides Jesus Christ and God - maybe in angels and saints. The devil is not a ghost in the same sense as an Asian ghost - the idea that your dead ancestors are still present. It's a very important idea, and it's totally absent in the West."

"The Hollywood remakes always change the ending, and the ghost is either conquered or gone, and there's a hope at the end," he says. "But if you believe in ghosts, they don't go away, and at best you can only live in peace with them.

"The excitement of Asian people when they watch ghost films, I believe, is connected to their inner beliefs. For Western audiences, it's all about action and violence. It's all about getting scared."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.