an ode to film festivals

i admit, i used to be a only-commercial/boxofficehit-follower (yes i am ashamed to admit now *whince*) ... none of them "artsy-fartsy-flicks" for me, oh no ... my impression of "art house films" were tainted by a coupla foreign films (french? german? dunno siah ... and also watch in Picture House too busy making out never concentrate on screen lor :p) whereby the screen shot (lock shot on stand) would hold for what seems like eternity; with the protagonist and another standing at both (near) edge of the screen and not talk at all ... or grunt a coupla lines ... and one would walk away! ... variations might include rain, different time of day (day/afternoon/evening/night/duh) and different locales (roadside/schoolyard/pub/amidst mountains/garden/dining room/duh) ... i couldn't understand the motivation nor emo involved in such endeavours then lar - but now can even sit thru a Tsai Ming Liang flick and not flinch (not too much that is. heh) ... i reckon tis becoz of having been exposed to too much hollywood action/comedy-flicks prior to my "celluloid enlightenment", that had me spoilt for needing instant gratification, or at least in a scenario whereby scenes happen concurrently in fast succession ... and my mind and taste was moulded thusly ...

... but this was not meant to be so ...

watching chinese/mandarin/hongkong flicks wasn't a big stretch nor impact by any standards (*except for when i was into anime way back when, ie: Akira et al) ... until i was introduced to Wong Kar Wai's (WKW) Chungking Express. by then i had ventured forth from Interior Design to Media Design, by working at the then Television Corporation of Singapore (now Mediacorp) and the time was ripe for me to be influenced and be guided toward the guiding brightlight that was "art films" (or anything of that genre anyways) ...

** a whole chunk of gratitude goes out to William Chang, art director for WKW's flicks (dude edits as well, for gawd's sake), for inspiring me forth into furthering my craft into the area of design and art direction ... and he was one of the first to stoke the fire within me ...

NOT that way, yer pervs! hurhurhur

i still remember one of the earliest films i watched for my first ever singapore film festival, t'was at the then Capitol Theatre (now closed *sob*) - where they had screened WKW's Happy Together and boy was i bowled over but good! i too remember both WKW and Christopher Doyle standing on stage doing a Q&A! ~ DAYMN! ~ ... of coz WKW had his signature shades on and dun seem too happy to be there, as was the seemingly drunk Doyle! quite hilarious really, but nevertheless memorable ... i still have the ticket stub somewhere in my boxes still! ... (yes, i am was one of those sentimental blokes who kept cinema stubs ... don't you? heh :p)

and another "first" (but not during the film fest tho) was watching Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen. fcuked me senses raw it did! a whole new way to look at foreign/french films and i was hooked. and the rest, as they say, was celluloid-history!

i devoured anything japanese, from animes like Jinroh and Ghost In The Shell to Beat Takeshi's ballet of violence and Shinya Tsukamoto's depraved genius (very niche specific, i know i know :p). and anything Jean-Pierre Jeunet did (and/or still does), was pure-celluloid-gold (well, maybe except Alien Resurrection. heh :p) and one of my all-time-favs was City Of Lost Children; for which i even screened for my fellow set designers in TCS as one of our "Friday Film Appreciation" movies (irony: had to actually force designers to watch movies other than commercial ones! the irony was sweet for me. heh). and with Amelie, he had again set the stage for a new frontier for cinema (IMHO of coz). other nameless unknown (to me) french films were devoured with relish. from the east to the west, i have no adversity to any genre as of now and television serials notwithstanding, i've even embraced korean flicks! with Volcano High as my all-time fav (yes, again brainless fun very genre specific :p) ... the list is undoubtly endless, i assure you :)

having said alla that, quite a number of flicks are only available via film festivals (ie: ain't "commercialized" enough to possibly make a dent at the box office) or possibly via DVDs (but we KNOW tis illegal to bring them in, dun we? heh :p) ... time was when filmfest-tix were more expensive than regular cinemas, but now? tis the gawddamned SAME price (if not cheaper)! hahahaha = so itz all good! (pending financial status, of coz). tho, personnally i haveta say, the past coupla years' offerings haven't been, shall i say; "tantalizing enough"? time when, at the height of my fervour, i whacked 20-near-30 tix at a go (which i haveta admit, ain't nothin' much to a hardcore aficionado, but to a pathetically-paid-wretch like me back then? *secretly laugh lieow!* heh) and movie marathons were the greatest (tho not at a lemon like the Majestic Cinema, as charming as it truly was - cats running free, pee smells and holes-in-seats notwithstanding of coz) ... and now? i'll be surprised if i could go beyond 5 movies (exact number for this year's SIFF).

actually, i DO miss The Majestic Cinema ... *tear*

tho ima really and truly appreciating alla them "other fringe" film fests popping up all around (no disrespect when i say "fringe", mind), most times co-organized by the Singapore Film Society, for which i had a decent time at the recently finished Brazilian Film Fest (anything much earlier was subject to financial availability = ie: no money dead broke) - i'd haveta say i've yet to give up on them there commercial flicks and that sure as heck's a whole lotta movies!

*checks wallet & bank balance* ... damn.

and another thing that ties alla them film fests = the screening schedules! trying to sort out what you wanna see and when you can see it, is more of a task than anyone thinks, innit? check this out again! i hadda spend slightly more than 3hours trying to sort them out via a spreadsheet (or maybe im just ignorant) - like taking a test siah! and tis been more than a decade since i've taken a paper-test ... hurhurhur

anyways, itz all good lah ... see y'all @ the cinemas!

(the above was posted in October 2005 on another online-entity)