Download This year’s Stockholm International Film Festival features 21 films from Asia, highlighting new talent and styles.
Three of the films: a documentary from China, an anti-wartale from Japan and a claustrophobic family drama from Vietnam were especially memorable.
Ric Wasserman reports they leave a range of new insights and unforgetable impressions for anyone who saw them.
Set in Japan in the 1940’s during the second Sino-Japanese war, the film Caterpillar, written and directed by veteran KojiWakamatsu is an anti-war film, but is also much more.
Lieutenant Kyuzo returns to his rural village without legs or arms, deaf and disfigured, but a decorated hero.
The role is brilliantly played by Shima Onashi.
I asked him how he prepared for a role without limbs.
”It was important to be natural, so I studied frustrated struggling infants, trying to find ways to move about. And, I copied them.”
The low budget film was very trying, says Onashi.
”We only had 12 shooting days and the director Wakamatsu was screaming a lot. There was so much tension I lost 10 kilos.”
The film also deals with gender roles.
Lt. Kyuzo in anguish turns on his dutiful wife who, tired of tending to his sexual needs, begins to shun him, slowly finding her hidden voice.
”It also about how the people were deceived by government propaganda during the war, and how our tradition of maintaining appearances is still in place.”
82 year old KojiWakamatsu made the film to wake up the japanese youth, many who he says don’t even know a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
He wants to show them that war is always wrong. That it is simply murder.
Using the backdrop of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the documentary Beijing Taxi, directed by Miao Wang, reveals the Olympics as a propaganda tool to sell China to the world.
Not far from the Olympics, we follow the everyday grind of three Chinese taxi drivers.
50-year-old taxi driver Bai Jiwen is confused by the fast pace of economic change.
”Before under Mao everybody had food, it wasn’t good, but everybody had some.We are going towards capitalism, but there has to be a transition.”
Director Miao Wang, moved to the US after the Tienamin Square protests as a teenager.
When she returned to shoot the film things had changed.
”Mao was a god. Now there’ s a vacuum. Theres a vacuum of ideology, spirituality. Generally the society is a money worshipping society. Its all about money.”
The three taxi drivers represent the attitudes of many in today’s China; confusion, hope and resignation.
”I don’t want to tell somebody what’s going on in the film. I want them to leave the film thinking: hmm, is it this way or that way? And to realize there are a lot of contradictions and grey areas in the world.”
Wang wants to challenge the Chinese media’s version of the truth.
”They have certain ideas about what shows backwardness and they want to present a certain idea and that’s why in this film I wanted to contrast the media presentation of China from the government media versus what was going on in the street.”
It’s another unbearably sticky night in Hanoi, and 6 year old Bi ’s father is out on the town, drunk again.
The film Bi, Don’t be Afraid is about the world of a child and his extended family.
Poetic, beautifully shot, and full of sexual candour this is an impressive first work for the young director Phan Dang Di:
”I wanted to tell the story about the family, but in a diferent way.”
The family members simmer in the heat, while 6-year-old Bi takes in refuge in an ice factory, symbolic of the family’s relationship with each other:
”They’re like ice cubes and they never meet together. I like the idea where I can connect so many people in the same location, in the same family.”
There is a special, rare quality here, a film of innocence and mystery. The film won best cinematograpy and best first feature awards at the festival. Vietnam’s Phan Dang Diis an up and coming directorto watch out for.
1.memorable: pantas untuk dikenang
2.claustrophobic: takut ruang tertutup
4.anguish: kesedihan yang mendalam, penderitaan
5.sticky night: malam yang gerah
6.candour: keterusterangan, kejujuran
8.insight: wawasan,pengertian mendalam
1. Where was the the Asian Film Festival held recently and how many films were there?
2. Where were these films from?
3. What are the film Caterpillar, Bi and documentary called Beijing Taxi about and why were they memorable?
4. Which film won awards for best cinematography and feature?
5. What is the background of the directors of the 3 movies in this report?