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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chile (Part 3): Hu Shu goes missing before his I WANT TO DANCE screening

(Go to Swifty in Chile (Part 1) or Swifty in Chile (Part 2))

16th of August, 2007.

A van came at 11:45am and brought me to the Hoyts La Reina multiplex were the WORK IN PROGRESS event was held. I saw the New Yorker director Jay Frisk and his wife, Veronica (whom I mentioned in the first entry) waiting outside the cineplex, I approached them and they looked sympathetic, the news of my screening's cancellation the night before had spread to even the festival invitees.

The first work-in-progress film was a big-budget sci-fi satirical comedy about a shady businessman who managed to launch an astronaut into space, only to have the Americans worry that this was a planned secret attack against them. There weren't subtitles, and English was only spoken in the scenes set in the Pentagon. So I assume that was the gist of the plot.

Second one was a coming-of-age road movie. Young woman in Spain returns to Chile to scatter her mother's ashes, only to discover friends, romance and ultimately... herself. Well, you know how these kinds of movies are like. Well-shot, stylishly-edited, and the main actress was pretty.

Third one was a father-daughter film, about a Jewish family in a Chilean town. Dialogue-heavy, so I didn't know what was going on.

Fourth one was called 'Santos', a superhero film, very campy and darkly comedic. It's the only one with English subtitles, so I could finally understand what was going on. Disgraced comic artist runs into a character from his comic and discovers that he has superpowers. His best friend had become a super tycoon who runs the entire city and his ex-girlfriend had married his best friend. Super tycoon best friend is obviously the main villain in the film, I think.

I also went to see Jay's film, 'Pulling', in the afternoon. A TV reporter came over and interview me after the film ended, noting that I was the producer of 'The Elephant and the Sea', asking how I felt about Chile, and whether I was saving my energies for the next scheduled screening of my film.

"Yes, that's why I'm hanging out, watching other films of the festival." I said. "Hopefully my screening will run smoothly."

"Before you came here, what would you think of when you hear the name 'Chile'?" The reporter asked.

"The Andes. And Pablo Neruda." I answered, after thinking for a while.

I took a taxi back from the Hoyts La Reina to the hotel with Jay and his family, only to realize that I made a mistake since I had to catch another screening at night. Immediately after I reached the hotel, I was trying to find ways to get back to the multiplex.

I saw a festival staff at the lobby.

"Hey, do you have a van that can bring me to Hoyts La Reina? I want to see Hu Shu's I WANT TO DANCE." I asked.

(Note: Hu Shu's I WANT TO DANCE and my THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA were the only Asian films among the 9 films competing under the International Competition category)

"Hu Shu is missing!" The festival staff shrieked in horror. "We can't have a screening of Hu Shu's film without Hu Shu!"

"Whoa?" I keanu'd.

Apparently, Hu Shu, the director of I WANT TO DANCE, arrived at Santiago that morning and had remained missing ever since. Phone calls to his room were unanswered, no one opened the door when they were knocking his door frantically, he wasn't in either of the festival venues. People were freaking out.

"Hmm. If that's the case, maybe I don't want to go to the screening." I said. I had already went back and forth twice to the Hoyts La Reina on that day anyway.

Moments later, Hu Shu entered the office, he was suffering from jet lag and had remained on bed the whole time, sleeping. It was as if he had lost consciousness, not hearing either the phone calls nor the knockings. I introduced myself to Hu Shu, finally speaking in Mandarin. The only two festival invitees from Asia finally got to meet.

The film was a wonderful crowd-pleaser.

Go to SWIFTY IN CHILE (Part 4)