Monday, 3 October 2011

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Perspective Film Festival 2011

Every keystroke of this post is a form of literal expression, albeit a digital one.

The very reason I am penning something is none other than an inner desire to relay my thoughts and feelings through the medium of words. An expression, although there's a chance that it may never fall on any other eyes besides mine, is no less than any other. No matter how minute it is or how much it represents the minority, it cannot be dismissed.

It may be ignored, but never persecuted with prejudiced dismissal.

Perhaps that is the very reason why the upcoming Perspective Film Festival 2011 caught my eye for its controversial theme this year. Showcasing 6 films that were previously banned and instilled controversy within its native community of distribution, this is no ordinary film festival that attempts to please the mass audience.

You're hereby challenged to become a discerning film audience.


Running from October 27 to 30 in Singapore, Perspective Film Festival 2011 presents the following films for your consideration:


The Battle of Algiers
by Gillo Pontecorvo

The Battle of Algiers was created based on events during the Algerian Revolution that led to Algeria’s independence from France in 1962. As Algerian insurgents plant bombs, demonstrate in the streets, and plan their next moves, the French army attempts to stop them by figuring out and dismantling the terrorists’ operation system.

Filmed in a raw documentary style and released not long after the revolt, The Battle of Algiers was so realistic that audiences thought it was actual war footage. For five years the film was not screened in French theaters, making it one of only seven films banned in France. This was due to the former colonists’ and soldiers’ resentment against its sympathetic treatment of Algerian insurgents.

An important commentary on urban guerrilla warfare, the film screened at the Pentagon in 2003 to illustrate the problems the US faced in the Iraq War. With the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence coming in 2012, this film takes on added significance. Perspectives is proud to present this classic in 2K Digital format.


A Clockwork Orange
by Stanley Kubrick

Set in a dystopian future in Britain, this bold and satirical crime-drama focuses on Alex, a young, domineering delinquent whose penchant for violence and sex leads him to be set up by his resentful gang. In prison, Alex volunteers to undergo an experimental psychological treatment developed by the government as a cure for all criminal problems. Alex is conditioned to feel nausea in relation to violence and sex, and returns to society soon after – but is he really cured?

Based on the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange shocked audiences with its brutal violence and rape scenes. The film proved highly controversial in the United Kingdom, with accusations that it inspired copycat crimes involving gang rape, manslaughter and adolescent violence. Hostility to A Clockwork Orange mounted, prompting Kubrick to ban its distribution in the UK, effectively preventing any further screenings until after his death in 1999.

This Kubrick masterpiece has never been screened commercially in Singapore. Perspectives is proud to present this rare opportunity to catch the restored digital print on the 40th anniversary of the film’s release.


Syndromes and a Century
by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

In Syndromes and a Century, filmmaker and installation artist Weerasethakul explores the complex web of human relationships and the elliptical nature of memory, starting with the love life of a young female doctor who works in a rural ‘70s-era hospital. A new doctor there confesses his love for her. She, however, recalls fondly a burgeoning relationship with an orchid breeder, who in turn sees her as no more than a friend. Later the same dialogue is reprised with the same characters in a starkly contemporary and urban setting, with different outcomes.

Based on the stories of Weerasethakul’s doctor parents, the first and second parts of the film focus on his mother’s and his father’s perspectives respectively. These are interspersed with loosely connected stories, characters and meditative long takes of their physical environment. The Thai Board of Censors ordered four cuts to the film, prompting the director to eventually replace the scenes with scratched celluloid in a show of resistance against censorship.


Czech Dream
by Vít Klusák & Filip Remunda

Czech Dream documents the transformation of two final-year film students into young, aspiring businessmen as they launch a nationwide advertising campaign for a hypermarket of the same name. The only problem: the hypermarket does not exist.

Eventually they succeed in getting 1000 Czech citizens to turn up for the hypermarket’s opening ceremony. When those who turned up find out they were cheated, and that the project was funded indirectly by the government, Klusák and Remunda are fiercely interrogated.

What started out as a critique against consumerism quickly became fuel for political debate and a channel for the citizens to vent their insecurities. In a time when the ex-Communist republic has to decide whether to enter the European Union, the name “Czech Dream” also made them question – is the government’s promise of a better country after joining the EU trustworthy? Will it be another fantasy just like the hypermarket?

While revealing the tactics advertisers use to persuade the public, this light-hearted film exposes the Czech people’s hunger for consumption and their ridiculous excitement over a good discount.


The Blue Kite
by Tian Zhuangzhuang

Set in China during Chairman Mao’s regime in the 1950s and 1960s, The Blue Kite conveys the impact of political movements on the family unit. Told through the perspective of a young boy, Tietou, the story portrays the evolution of his family through the course of the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. While Mao Zedong imposes drastic changes in Communist China, different men assume the role of father to Tietou, altering the family’s dynamics and his relationship with his mother.

The overt parallels with Mao’s policies and decisions led to the film being banned in China. The director was also banned from making films for a decade. However, the producers still managed to release the film in countries like Canada and the United States, allowing The Blue Kite to be celebrated internationally. To date, the film is considered one of the great works depicting the harsh realities of China’s history in the period following World War II.


Caterpillar
by Koji Wakamatsu

Lieutenant Kurokawa is the “god soldier” – a Japanese war hero who earns fame and glory for killing Chinese people in the Second Sino-Japanese War of the late 1930s. But in a twist of fate, he returns home as a war victim, deaf and mute, with all four limbs amputated and his face scarred with vicious burns. The burden falls on his wife, Shigeko, to care for this helpless husk of a man. She struggles to fulfill her duties as an obedient spouse in meeting with the lieutenant's unending demands for food and sex.

With Caterpillar,Wakamatsu significantly politicises Edogawa Rampo’s 1929 fantasy-horror story of the same name, which was banned from reprinting in Japan for its theme of sexual instinct. While the war is long past, what the audience sees is its consequences upon those who were not at the frontline.

Caterpillar is a potent critique of the nationalistic fever that gripped militarist Japan before the Second World War, and led the island nation to commit terrible atrocities against its fellow Asian countries. It also examines the gender inequality that once pervaded, and to some extent continues to fester in Japanese society today.


Check out the official site HERE for more film details and festival booklet!

(Film synopsis and content source: Perspective Film Festival 2011)


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