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Mattie Do

VIENTIANE. Filmmaker. Seng Lao Cinema.

About Seng Lao Cinema
I took this photo in front of the old, dilapidated building that is the last remaining standalone cinema in Laos. This photo is especially meaningful to me, because when my father was a young boy in the pre-revolution days, he was a little immigrant street urchin that LOVED film. He’d sell little bags of popcorn outside this actual cinema until he earned enough to see a western.

Growing up and becoming a filmmaker is kind of funny to our family. Of course, he probably doesn’t even like my films. Not enough cowboys and guns.

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Alvin Tan

SINGAPORE. Artist + Creative Director. The Projector.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?

The best thing about a film festival is being able to watch a variety of movies with different friends and go into a trivia post-mortem debate after! Film geeks unite at film festivals. The atmosphere is very different from watching a Hollywood blockbuster: it’s all about the vibe.

What’s the best conversation you’ve had about an independent film? It’ll have to be Ichi the Killer. Every scene in that movie was controversial and pretty intense, especially towards the end, when Ichi had his ears stabbed by skewers before he chopped off Takeshi’s head. You can tell who is sadomachistic by their reactions: those who yelled ‘Yeah!’ versus those who cringed till they looked like a prune.

Photo credit: Angela Ognev (http://happinessisbeautiful.com/)
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Norhayani Khamis

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN. Production Manager. Times Cineplex, Empire.

Why do you watch independent films?
The independent directors, who most of the time are also the writer, have no controlling voice from anyone else, which would make their film more personal, unique and so full of meaning, that I sometimes have to re-watch it again to really understand it, or to make a conclusion of my own. Watching an independent film is like getting to know the director himself. For me, that’s quite an interesting experience.

What’s special about watching a film at a film festival?
Films screened at film festivals are chosen out of hundreds, if not thousands, of films from the country, region, or even all over the world. So each chosen film must have a distinctive value or quality, professionally selected for your viewing pleasure. It’s worth the time.

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Han Xue

BEIJING. Student. Beijing Film Academy, Main Screening Hall.

Have you had the chance to meet a director at a film festival/Q&A session?
One of my most memorable experiences was when Korean director Kim Ki-duk came late for a masterclass — to apologise, he sang ‘Arirang’ for us. As a big fan of his work, I was absolutely thrilled!

About Beijing Film Academy, Main Screening Hall
Beijing Film Academy Main Screening Hall is the biggest screening theatre in any school in Asia. We have weekly movies screening in the hall, many prestigious directors have held talks and film screenings in this hall during their visit. I’ve met famous directors like Hou Hsiao Hsien, Peter Chen Ke Xin, Kim Ki Duk, Zhang Yi Mou, Luc Besson and a few more. I was the emcee of Hou Hsiao Hsien and Peter Chen’s event when they were here for the first Beijing Film Academy’s Director Award Night. I think this screening hall holds dear to every student from BFA because there are seniors who came back with their movie after they graduated and me and my friends will attend these events to watch and learn. The screening hall is like a big party for us to gather and enjoy films.

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Diffan Sina Norman

KUALA LUMPUR. Filmmaker. Pawagam Federal.

About Pawagam Federal
Fun fact: the word ‘Pawagam’, which means ‘cinema’, is an acronym of the Malay words Panggung (Stage), Wayang (Movie) and Gambar (Picture). It was invented and popularised by the late P. Ramlee.

I remember watching the start of Stallone’s Cliffhanger from Pawagam Federal’s balcony seats with my late dad — it was so good. The theatre ceased operations in 2001 before reopening in 2007; today, it’s a popular haunt for Indian staples.

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Inch Chua

SINGAPORE. Musician. The Substation.

What film made you start watching independent film?
El Mariachi. What inspired me about Robert Rodriguez making that film was his earnestness in wanting to make the film. He wanted to make a movie; budget constraints didn’t matter. And for all artists, that’s how we should do it! Money, ‘no one supports me’, whatever, who gives a shit? If you want to make a film because you have a point to make, then just do it.

What do you takeaway from Q&A sessions?
I think you see a lot of passionate people. For all those who asked questions were the ones who stayed to listen. So it’s not like, “Ok, I’m done with the film, I’m gonna get up and go.” In fact other people in the theatre just stay there and listen to the questions. So it’s a testimony to show how people love films and believe that film is a beautiful medium. There’s so much respect for the craft, and to me that’s very important. I think that’s what’s lacking in Singapore in the arts: Appreciation 101. I think a lot of people on a basic level just assume that arts is inferior in terms of functionality to other areas that you learn in school and any other practical trade. You just think it’s inferior because you don’t see its function.