Sunday, August 14, 2005

[Screen Singapore] Free Outdoor Screening

How could I forget to bring along a camera yesterday night to capture the atmosphere of the free outdoor screening of short films at the River Promenade, next to UOB Plaza? A picture tells a thousand words, and in the lacking of one, allow me to attempt to describe it.

I guess it wasn't planned that the event coincided with The Heritage Walk competition held that same afternoon, which culminated in performances cum lucky draw, at a stage set up behind the screening area. You can imagine the surprise that greeted many of the audiences: "How would we hear the dialogue with the pop music blaring in the background?" Alas, like the delieberate setup, a projected screen with plenty of benches, it supposedly brought back the old days of communal movie screenings, with stage performances, a flea market, and various road side food stalls lined up around the same area. The chatter of background noise were part and parcel.

Starting about 30 minutes late due to technical problems, not all the short films for the festival were screened, and this were the select few:

Old Parliament House Remixed
The short music clip which opened the festival, opened the free screening as well (if you don't count the sponsor Kodak's Keep-Me-Show-Me-Protect-Me clip). Using the old Today In Parliament music score from the TV news, it's given new life with quick cuts into various different scenes - breakdancers, NPCC cadets, a taxi-driver, of those humming, dancing to, and having the tune as a ringtone.

The Secret Heaven
A little girl dislikes and has no interest in her piano and her piano lessons, and devices different ways to try and skip classes or play her piano at home. But things don't go smoothly with a strict disciplinarian of a mother, and a hen-pecked father. Her only happier times are with her sister as they make pit stops to play when en route to their lessons.

Desperate to end her suffering, she unwittingly gets ideas from her Dad, the film Romeo and Juliet, and starts questioning about Death. Will she do it, and join the various happy people in Heaven?

What most audiences will find enjoyable is the adorable little girl's antics, definitely the star of the show.

The Usher
A poor little boy sneaks into a movie theatre to watch his favourite chinese martial arts films. He can only afford the kacang putih, never the price of a ticket. However, a cinema usher finds out about this boy's presence, and though at first chases him away, he takes pity and turns a blind eye. Things got discovered by the cinema manager, and he loses his job. But does this jeopardize the relationship built?

This touching story tells the tale of friendship amongst two unlikely characters, with an obvious generation gap. It also brings back memories of the days where cinema tickets were made of thin and huge pieces of paper and written upon by the box office's crayon to indicate your seat - which sometimes you can't read as it's scribbled.

Capturing long lost/disappearing but never forgotton icons, it features the Kacang Putih man who was once synonymous with movie-going decades back, as well as the painted movie posters where the actor's faces are a far cry from the actual persons (of course it's not intended to be hilariously so).

Ah, nostalgia!

Moveable Feast
Click on this link for a review.

The tai-tai in this filmlet narrates a day in her life to a penpal, and likens her lifestyle to that of a housewife, erm, make that "homemaker" (must sound more high class mah). Her actions and her narrative are in subtle contrast to each other, highlighting the uneventful life she is leading.

Hock Hiap Leong
The title of Royston Tan's short film refers to a coffeeshop by that name, which has since closed its doors. Like an ode to the shop and its owners/stallholders, memories of the 60s heydays are brought back in a song-and-dance routine which includes the beehives and a-go-go moves.

The beginning looked similar to Moveable Feast, with its protagonist taking in the sights and sounds of the aged-old coffeeshop, and laughter abound when he breaks into a song, complete with high pitched girlie voice, kinda like a bollywood movie with numerous male and female dancers going through their paces in the cramped setting.

Enjoyable short clip, leaving you wanting more.

Lunch Time
Directed by Wee Li Lin, who also did Homemaker, we explore the life of a female chicken rice hawker stall assistant, who wonders about how things are different at the other side of the spectrum - the airconditioned, well dressed and made up women working in an office environment.

She also longs for a relationship with a man from that world, a yuppie who frequently patronizes her stall with the same order. There is a break into a funny dance routine which somehow marred the film, though it was hilarious. The interesting twist at the end redeemed it however.

But what caught my attention was how the narration in the first few minutes described the hawker situation, and comparing that with the lifestyle that most office workers are accustomed to.

I thought the organizers would be screening Lee Wong's Lim Poh Huat, which would have been a blast and given the title character instant recognition, as he had graced the occassion with his anonymous presence. But instead, the first 3 films got another run, before the night ended with a complimentary fireworks courtesy of our nation's 40th birthday.

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