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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My short film FLEETING IMAGES wins Grand Prix at Japan's CON-CAN Movie Festival

I received a phone call yesterday morning from the CON-CAN Movie Festival. They told me that my experimental short, FLEETING IMAGES, had won the Grand Prix.

Fleeting Images

I was shocked.

The award ceremony will be next month, along with the film's Japanese premiere.

In a year when one surprise after another had happened with my filmmaking career (LOVE SUICIDES getting into Paris Cinema Film Festival, KINGYO getting into the Venice Film Festival), the sudden festival life FLEETING IMAGES had gotten is one of the most surprising.

FLEETING IMAGES had the misfortune of being made between my narrative shorts, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and LOVE SUICIDES. So often I've overlooked its existence. Due to its unconventional nature (it is a video essay inspired by Chris Marker's SANS SOLEIL made using travel videos and additional footage I shot in Tokyo, with a somewhat stream-of-consciousness-like voiceover narration), it had the most divisive reactions among my audiences. Some liked it and called it dream-like and poetic. Most with traditional expectations for cinema and films hadn't been kind to FLEETING IMAGES, with accusations of it being a dishonest 'assemblage of recycled goods' or 'the Heaven's Gate of my short films'.

I respect everyone's feedback, and I guess because I was easily swayed by feedback then, I couldn't commit to my vision of the film, which was, I think, a youthful mistake, and so I left the film in the shelf after I went on with making my subsequent short films like LOVE SUICIDES and KINGYO. But then, film-viewing is indeed a subjective experience, so I was foolish to question the value of what I made.

FLEETING IMAGES' selection by this year's CON-CAN Movie Festival and Singapore Short Film Festival (the film had a simultaneous international premiere in both festivals on the same day) were pleasant surprises.

Here's the selection process of the CON-CAN Movie Festival as described by its website.

Running in parallel with the Audience Awards from July, 2009, the 6th CON-CAN Competition has finally come to a conclusion. The best 24 movies were first chosen by the preliminary juries in October and then from these 24, 1 Grand Prix Award, 1 Special Jury Award, and 4 Best Picture Awards for each category (Fiction, Documentary, Animation, & Experimental) were chosen by the 5 International Jury members, last week.

I'm really very honoured by this. And of course, I would also like to congratulate the other award-winners: Belgium's Monica Gallab, director of "Nice day for a picnic" [Special Jury Award], Japan's Takashi Nishara, director of "Jun and Ema" [Best Picture Awards (Fiction)] and China's Huaqing Jin, director of wa quan (Living with Shame) [Best Picture Awards (Documentary)]. And to the other filmmakers whose films were selected by the festival this year, congratulations too, since I am sure your shorts will be seen by audiences for years to come.

This is the trailer of FLEETING IMAGES.

(click here if you cannot see embedded video)

This is its SYNOPSIS:

A young woman narrates a series of emails from an old friend traveling in India and Japan. Some mundane, some rambling, some philosophical. He is seeking life's meaning in his travels, but perhaps all he wants to do is to view the sunset. Part documentary, part travelogue, maybe a love letter. An experimental essay-film.

Yes, Nicolekiss is in the film, though by accident.

Actually, I first knew about CON-CAN Movie Festival back in 2005 when I started dabbling in filmmaking, and had always wanted to submit a short film to them. Looking at the finalists then, I was floored by the quality of those films. They motivated me to improve myself, so CON-CAN Movie Festival has a special place in my heart, and receiving the award is like a dream.

You can watch the entire FLEETING IMAGES here once you sign up for the website.