13 LITTLE PICTURES

11 Singapore films @ Rotterdam 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by being on January 23, 2010

A record 11 films from Singapore have been officially selected to screen at the 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam (27 Jan – 7 Feb), the mecca that showcases the most exciting filmmakers in the world. 13 Little Pictures is honoured to have co-produced 4 of them: 2 feature films, Flooding in the Time of Drought (Sherman Ong) and Memories of a Burning Tree (Sherman Ong. Shot in Tanzania, Africa; see still above) and 2 short films, Tickets (Sherman Ong) and One Day In June (Daniel Hui). Ho Tzu Nyen will have 2 works presented: Earth (short feature) and Newton (short). Other short films are made by acclaimed filmmaker Royston Tan, as well as up and coming filmmakers Kirsten Tan, Ng Wai Ha, Vladimir Todorovic and Wesley Leon Aroozoo.

Other participants from Singapore include Philip Cheah (Jury for Tiger Awards), Fran Borgia and James Leong (both for the Rotterdam Lab), Lim Song Hwee and Hee Wai Siam (film scholars researching on contemporary Singaporean/Malaysian filmmaking).

Tickets by Sherman Ong
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/tickets/
A woman moves from China to Singapore in the hope of starting a career as an actress. For now she doesn’t make it any further than selling tickets in an old cinema. It’s a good place to dream about a life as a film star. Here, the film maker makes her dreams come true.

Lantaren 1 Thu 28 Jan 11:45
Pathé 4 Thu 28 Jan 19:00
Cinerama 5 Sat 30 Jan 09:30
Cinerama 7 Wed 03 Feb 17:15

Kissing Faces by Wesley Leon Aroozoo http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/kissing-faces/
A girl takes a taxi to an unknown destination and muses a bit on her life. Curious and intriguing mix of the kitschy dream world of karaoke and the neon reality of a city that mainly feels empty and desolate.

Lantaren 1 Thu 28 Jan 14:00
Cinerama 4 Fri 29 Jan 12:30
Venster 2 Sat 06 Feb 14:30

One Day In June by Daniel Hui
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/one-day-in-june/
Melancholy on a day in June. Circumstances force a mother and daughter to live together once again; each copes in her own way. In long, poetic shots, the sorrow and loneliness are tangible. Hui made a small-scale drama that evokes questions, but doesn’t answer them.

Venster 2 Thu 28 Jan 14:15
Venster 2 Sat 30 Jan 22:30

Little Note by Royston Tan
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/little-note/
A sweet little film. Very sweet, even. Royston Tan is the kind of film maker who doesn’t worry about boundaries or good taste. He likes going over the top. Here the love between a mother and her child is made so sweet and the pictures so polished that it must have been done on purpose.

Venster 2 Thu 28 Jan 14:15
Venster 2 Sat 30 Jan 22:30

May by Ng Wai Ha
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/may/
A safety net set up by the government does not exist in Asia. An elderly woman with passable status loses her husband and has no choice but to take a job cleaning. A small-scale, socially realistic drama about loss of face.

Venster 2 Thu 28 Jan 14:15
Venster 2 Sat 30 Jan 22:30

Sink by Kirsten Tan
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/sink/
Stylised black-and-white film about the relationship between a man and a sink in the sea. Playful with the uninhibited boy, reserved towards the violent young man and deteriorating but resigned with the old man, this sink symbolises man’s different life stages and prompts reflection.

Lantaren 2 Thu 28 Jan 16:30
Lantaren 2 Fri 29 Jan 14:15

Snail On The Slope by Vladimir Todorovic
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/the-snail-on-the-slope/
Critical questions on the relation between man and nature lead us through a forest. The deeper we enter the forest, the more unsettling this relation. The texts (based on a novel by the Strugatsky brothers), the animations and the sound design trigger a hypnotising experience.

Lantaren 2 Thu 28 Jan 16:30
Lantaren 2 Fri 29 Jan 14:15

Earth by Ho Tzu Nyen
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/earth/
Experimental science fiction. The earth after a disaster. People lie gasping between the rubble, barely conscious. Only occasionally do they make impotent movements. In the shadow, they seem to form a whole. The film is one continuous shot. A work of art.

Lantaren 2 Thu 28 Jan 16:30
Lantaren 2 Fri 29 Jan 14:15

Newton by Ho Tzu Nyen
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/newton/
In this case, minimal really means minimal. In a white set, a Chinese in white makeup repeats a moment from the life of the scientist Isaac Newton. He gets a book on his head. That must be the moment when gravity was discovered.

Lantaren 2 Thu 28 Jan 16:30
Lantaren 2 Fri 29 Jan 14:15

Memories of a Burning Tree by Sherman Ong
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/kumbukumbu-za-mti-uunguao/
A film maker who makes friends quickly settles in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Because he can’t afford to pay any actors, he teaches his new friends to act. Because he hasn’t written the screenplay, he asks his new actors for stories. Because he can film, the result looks great.

Just like the other film makers in the Forget Africa project, Sherman Ong had never previously been to Africa. His budget was also not higher than that of his colleagues. He did stay rather longer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, because he stretched his financial means to the limit, but that does not explain the fact that Ong was able to make a full-length feature in that short time, in a strange country and with such limited means.

The secret is in his approach. Previously, Ong showed in his film Hashi (2008), shot in Japan, that he was able to improvise a feature in a strange country where he doesn’t speak the language. Memories of a Burning Tree also came about in improvisations. Ong loves the approach of dancers and theatre makers who put together a show step-by-step. Here, all the performers were amateurs. Most had no acting experience at all. Ong’s answer to that is to rehearse calmly and patiently and to involve his actors in building up the story and situation.

The basis is simple. A man called Smith arrives in Dar es Salaam to sort out some affairs. He meets the tourist guide Link, who wants to help him. Gradually he needs more helpers, such as the grave digger Abdul and the scrap collector Toatoa. Each of them is searching in his own way.

Schouwburg Kleine Zaal Wed 03 Feb 12:30
Schouwburg Kleine Zaal Thu 04 Feb 19:30
Cinerama 2 Fri 05 Feb 10:00

Flooding in the Time of Drought by Sherman Ong
http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/en/films/banjir-kemarau/
A full-length feature with many documentary elements follows eight immigrant couples in Singapore who play scenes from their lives, often shot in their small dwellings. These immigrants are the basis of Singapore’s success, but get the hardest knocks when things go wrong.

A film with an unusual length and an unusual form. It’s twice as long as a normal feature and made in two parts. It’s not a documentary, but has many elements of one. The film follows eight couples of immigrants in today’s Singapore. In this way, a lot is made clear about the political and social situation of Singapore, of which the flourishing economy is largely dependent on guest workers. Instead of interviewing the immigrants, the film maker has them play scenes from their own lives. A fiction film, but much more realistic than usual.

Another fictional element in the film is the introduction of a water crisis in Singapore. It’s the immigrants who have most problems with this. For a large part, the film is set in the small dwellings where the various immigrant couples live. And also in other regards, the film maker works down to the square centimetre.

Pathé 4 Thu 04 Feb 12:00
Venster 4 Fri 05 Feb 12:15
Venster 2 Sat 06 Feb 17:00

* Above synopses from Rotterdam website.

A list of the Southeast Asian feature films @ Rotterdam 2010 can be found here: http://bthiam.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/southeast-asian-films-feature-rotterdam/.