Saturday, September 16, 2006

[6th Asian Film Symposium] The Year of Living Vicariously + Village Radio

What strikes you when watching the documentary, is the split screen technique used. Amir Muhammad had taken a rare opportunity to follow an Indonesian film crew on their set of the movie Gie, a story set in the tumultuous transition of power between Presidents Sukarno and Suharto. What more, the movie was made in times of political uncertainty in Indonesia in the new millennium too.

The split screen used wasn't a strict 50-50 split, but the sizes changed quite frequently from scene to scene. At times you see certain events with time juxtaposed between the screens, or events totally off tangent from one another. There are plenty of things to see and it served to be quite difficult to absorb fully the sights and sounds in just one sitting. Amir revealed that it was the first time he visited Indonesia, and so through the shoot and editing, he wanted to reflect that sensory overload in a country totally new to him. Also, they had a record number of tapes shot for this documentary, hence through the technique, enabled him to squeeze as much as he could within the run time constraint.

The Year of Living Vicariously contained numerous interviews with cast and crew of Gie, be they the main leads, director, or even the cameo casts. The topics covered practically everything under the sun, but predominantly focussed on current affairs and politics, in the earlier days of Sukarno/Suharto, and in the current political climate. There are quite a number of candid opinionated remarks which make you go hmm, or laugh out loud, or just poignant.

And you could see shades of the style which will evolve into The Last Communist, with the song singing bits in overdrive in TLC. Probably one of the best parts about Vicariously, is the frequent interjections of folks telling Indonesian folk tales. I'm sure almost everyone in the audience love to hear stories of old, and stories spun from our neighbours' rich history.

All in all, an enjoyable movie, and after watching this and The Last Communist, I couldn't wait for...

Village Radio

We also had the rare opportunity to take a look at some of the production pictures from Amir's upcoming movie, a sequel of sorts to The Last Communist, tentatively titled in English as Village Radio.

- there are plenty of chickens in the village, hence the poster might feature chickens.
- we were shown a real life "sepet" couple
- many of the villages dressed in their best when it's time for their interview with the crew
- in response to a query if Village Radio would be banned, Amir explained the real reason why The Last Communist was banned was because it (the communist portrayed) wasn't violent enough. Given that only the last 20% of The Last Communist touched on communism, Village Raddio is 100% given its setting in the kampong from ex-10th Battalion of the Malay Regiment of the Communist Party. So go figure?
- in the evenings there were mass aerobics performed by the women to the looped tune of Aqua's Barbie Girl
- there was a huge age disparity in the village, you'll see the elderly and the youngsters/children, but very rarely, people in between. The reason was that during the war, it wasn't convenient for the communists to be raising children in the jungles, hence their children, if any, were given away to relatives / friends to be raised. The youngsters in the village now were likely to be their grandchildren.
- the current rough cut is about 3 hours, which will be pared down to 72 minutes for release
- there was zero handphone signals in the village (side: I think it would be the best place to take cover if Kairo/Pulse becomes true)

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