Tuesday, April 08, 2008

[SIFF08] Vivid (Short)

This is a mood piece, with very little dialogue exchanged between characters, save for their interaction with the hotel front desk reception, played by Magdalene See, whom most of us would recognize as the wife character in Starhub's latest ad (where she gets confounded with three versions of her husband).

A Japanese man, Takeshi, checks into Hotel 81 Bugis, and stays in room 04-02. He's a regular, given that the front desk addresses him by name. Two movies in recent memory are set in hotel rooms, one being Wong Kar-wai's 2046, and the other Stephen King's horror adaptation of 1408. Vivid leans toward the former of course, and charts the good memories that Takeshi has, when he discovers a lost shawl in the room.

The story then takes on another POV with his leaving of his cigarettes and lighter for the room's previous occupant, and like him, she's a regular too, who uses the same room. Played by Amy Cheng (whom I think doesn't smoke because it was fairly obvious she doesn't inhale), the two characters then connect through imagination, with a tinge of sadness, but yet finding comfort that there's someone out there reaching out to them in a strange way.

While the production values for this short seem excellent, there's nothing really spectacular here that will grab you by the throat, or provide you with any twist ending. A very simple story on reminiscence gets told, and delivered by the two main leads as expected.

From LtoR: Eng Yee Peng (Director of Diminishing Memories II, Tania Sng (SIFF) and director of Vivid Sam Loh

The Q&A session after the screening was a combined one, but here are those questions that were relevant to Sam Loh's short. As usual, I have paraphrased (for the better I hope) for clarity and readability. For those who are spoiler wary, please read something else. You have been warned.

Q: You mentioned the film is about lost, but I thought it was sweet and uplifting. How did you come to make such a film?
A: The "lost" bit is on the character of Takeshi, and the backstory was that he had lost his wife. Actually the hotel room served as a refuge for the 2 characters. I wanted to tell of a story about 2 people in a room without knowing and seeing each other, and to connect in an unspoken amnner by touching and feeling things. I wanted to do something non-verbal, and for people to connect in strange and unpredictable ways.

Q: What's your next project?
A: It's going to be something of a totally different focus, probably going back to my twisted stories!

Q: Why did you decide to use a Japanese actor in the film?
A: That's something that I wanted to do, in trying different combinations of local and foreign actors, to fuse that together and see the chemistry evolve.

Q: Were the actors improvising? And what was the process in making the film like?
A: It was rehearsed before the shoot, so it's not very improvised. In fact, we had the room before the shoot, and it was my Japanese actor's room as he was actually staying there!

The SIFF Singapore Filmmakers Interview Series
Kan Lume, Writer-Director of Dreams From The Third World
HAN Yew Kwang, Writer-Director of 18 Grams of Love
ENG Yee Peng, Director of Diminishing Memories II
Sherman ONG, Screenwriter-Director of Hashi
James LEONG and Lynn LEE, Directors of Homeless FC
Lionel CHOK, Producer of To Speak

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