24 Nov 2016 – SGIFF On The Ground

By Youth Jury

A plot is like a clothesline, to hang all the details on.” Watching the new Kan Lume film Ariel Olivia which world premiered last night, and hearing him explain his process at the dialogue session after – one gets the sense that Lume’s film was built with more detail than plot in mind, although it is a pretty congruent plot in any case. Ariel Olivia excels precisely because of its attention to detail – the selfie videos his titular characters shoot with abandon, stored in their phones; the digital memories caught at this point in their lives as they contemplate how to take their friendship from here. The result is a shimmering lo-fi gem, whimsical and surprising. In fact, Kan Lume’s latest work is poised for a breakout, his most commercial and heartfelt one yet, particularly his discovery and direction of a completely amateur cast whom give beautifully authentic performances.

Kan Lume and cast at the Ariel Olivia world premiere

It is the discovery of such gems at the Festival that draws audiences back to the Festival year after year, whose credo this year is “telling our stories.” In fact, before the screening of Ariel Olivia, Vietnamese filmmaker, visual artist and music composer Trinh Minh-ha was holding court just a kilometer away at Objectifs with her latest visual essay Forgetting Vietnam, which ostensibly is worlds apart from the light-hearted Singaporean’s film at the National Museum. Memory and the pursuit of it, or how one even remembers memories, particularly to her homeland of Vietnam, is the central focus of her latest film. Professor Trinh (she lectures at UC Berkeley, of Gender Women’s and Rhetoric) spoke at length about her dilemma reconciling the modernity and capitalism in present-day Vietnam and the violent conflicts in its past. This schizophrenia is prevalent in the assemblage of images in the film as well, which genderises Vietnam as woman, and Vietnamese women as central to the redemption of her country.

Still from Forgetting Vietnam

With the Festival just on its first couple of days, the opportunity is still ripe to discover more of Singapore and South-East Asian stories. But first, I should just about run off to the ArtScience Museum to hear Darren Aronofsky speak, maybe catch that sexy Korean film Walking Street after that at the Lido, and round up the day at midnight once again at the National Museum with everyone’s favourite pulp film director Sam Loh with his innocently titled Siew Lup, which promises to be anything but

Late Singapore filmmaker Abdul Nizam’s retrospective kicks off this Sunday at The Arts House.

Over the weekend, my legs will be crying out as I run around the various venues attending the dialogue sessions – one on the Future Of Cinema proves to be a worthy insight into the, well, future of cinema, and Singapore independent director Abdul Nizam’s retrospective at The Arts House, because who knows when I might see a collection of his works again? Only at the Festival, and I hope to see you there.