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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

China Mobile Film Fest 2009 recap

Okay, I was thinking of writing my thoughts on AVATAR, which I saw and really enjoyed yesterday, but better to give a quick recap of the entire China Mobile Film Festival before I forget about it.

On the 16th of December, one day after the CON-CAN Movie Fest Award Ceremony, I flew off to Shenzhen for the China Mobile Film Festival 2009. It was quite an honour because I was the only person with two short films in competition, LOVE SUICIDES and KINGYO.

Dad flew in from Malaysia to join me.

Dad@Pavillion hotel shenzhen 17/12/09

17th of December. We went to the Shenzhen University, where the festival screenings were held.

Shenzhen University building where the China mobile film fest was held

KINGYO was the first of my films to be screened. After the program there was a Q and A session.

Q and A session. Me and Derrick

Me speaking during the Q and A session

Derrick speaking during the Q and A session

I was asked a few questions about KINGYO (standing next to me was Singaporean filmmaker and fellow Murdoch University alumnus Derrick Lui, whose short film COLOURS was screened in the same program). One was whether I worried that audiences would not be able to follow the split screens in my film, causing viewing fatigue, and what did I think of the mobile phone as a platform for showing my films, and would a 25-min short film like KINGYO would be considered too long for it.

I said that I deliberately try to control the rhythm and pacing of the film so that it wouldn't be too quick and dizzying, so that the split screens wouldn't be too much of a hassle. And then I conceded that KINGYO might not be the best film to be viewed on mobile phone. Although the whole point is that I seldom really make my films for internet viewing, since I tend to think more about the big screens.

with Singapore filmmaker Derrick Lui during Q and A session

with Derrick during Q and A session at China Mobile Film Fest

If I had my pinky up in the second photo, I would've been Dr. Evil. One of the worst things that day was the fact that I didn't have any hair gel (got confiscated at Narita Airport cos it was a big bottle, and I had it in my hand luggage). So my hair looked like crap.

With the festival volunteers

The opening ceremony for the festival was held later that evening. These were the jury members.

Jury members

After that I finally bought myself some hair gel (not the easiest feat) and went back to the hotel.

Hotel room in Pavillion Shenzhen

It's a nice hotel room (Pavillion Shenzhen)

The next day I returned to Shenzhen University.

Shenzhen University

With Tokyo Short Shorts Film Fest's Eri.

With Eri of Tokyo Short Shorts Fest

And dad.

With Dad

We had lunch in the university canteen. The portion was huge.

Shenzhen University canteen food

Close-up of Shenzhen Uni canteen food

And since I haven't had my breakfast. Looking at the photos again is tortuous for me as I'm writing this blog entry.

There was still time before the screening of LOVE SUICIDES. So I did some exercise, like vandalizing the festival signs.

Derrick and I posing

With Cara, international liaison and part of the film entry team in the China Mobile Film Fest.

Derrick, me and Cara

Finally there was the LOVE SUICIDES screening, and I realized that it was the first ever festival screening of this film that I've attended (LOVE SUICIDES was screened in Paris, Bergamo, Split and Manila prior to this).

Q and A session again.

This time I was with South Korean filmmaker, Park Sungmi (her short, A WONDERFUL LIFE IN PARIS was also screened in the same program).

Speaking during the second Q and A session

At the 2nd Q and A session with Park Sungmi

Q and A session at the China Mobile Film Festival 2009

LOVE SUICIDES was an ambiguous film, it's more 'art' than the infinitely more accessible KINGYO. So there were some requests from the audiences to clarify the plot.

I merely explained that anyone can have different interpretations of the film, and all I could do was provide my own. (... sadly, this is probably a generic answer from an incoherent 'art-house' filmmaker that most people hated). LOVE SUICIDES was a movie about a woman who couldn't let go of her past etc etc.

I wandered into another screening program later. The last short screened was THE MADONNA, by Korean TV actress Ku Hye Sun (she was in the Korean version of BOYS OVER FLOWERS). I noticed during the end credits that many people were flocking into the screening hall. Of course, they were all there to see Ku Hye Sun.

Koo Hye Sun

When I first showed people in the festival the poster of KINGYO.

kingyo poster

Many remarked about my actress Luchino Fujisaki's resemblance with Ku Hye Sun.

Seeing Ku Hye Sun at the Q and A session, I sort of agreed.

However, I felt a little annoyed when questions asked from the audiences had nothing to do with the film at all.

"Do you like Shenzhen?"
"Is this your first time in Shenzhen?"
"When are you recording your next album? I really liked your last album!"
"I love your acting in BOYS OVER FLOWERS!"

I shook my head.

"This is preposterous," I said. "People here are treating her like a celebrity, and not a filmmaker. I cannot accept that!"

"Then why are you shooting a video of her right now?" My dad said.

Click here if you can't see embedded video

I decided to put an end to the fan questions by asking her two questions.

1) How long did it take for you to shoot your film? And how about pre-production?
2) How does it feel moving from acting to directing?

"3 days." She answered.

The audiences cheered wildly.

I shot CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY in 2.5 days. I shot LOVE SUICIDES in 2 days. I shot KINGYO in 3.5 days. I shot AFTERNOON RIVER in a day. EVENING SKY also in a day. WHITE FLOWER in 2 days... but okay. Was in my mind. (after I returned from the film festival, I would take 2.5 days to shoot my newest film EXHALATION too)

"But the pre-production took a much longer time." Ku Hye Sun conceded.

Then she elaborated that she would like to direct again, and felt that understanding what it's like to direct will help her immensely with her acting.

"Ah. Perhaps I'll consider acting too." I replied.

Ku Hye Sun said I will have her support.

I think the entire world will suffer.

Hours later. The Awards Ceremony.

I walked down the red carpet with Derrick, I didn't know what possessed me to give the Vulcan sign.

Me and Derrick walking down the red carpet at China Mobile Film Fest 2009

The ceremony was nearly 3 hours long. It was like the Oscars, or the Golden Horse Awards Ceremony. However, you don't know about the shortlisted nominees UNTIL just before each award is presented. Something like this:

Award presenter: "I am here to present 'Most Popular Foreign Director award", the nominees were..."

I was bummed out when I missed out on the 'Most Popular Foreign Director' and 'Director with Most Potential' awards. I wasn't even nominated.

As the ceremony reached towards the end, and neither of my two films garnered even a single nomination, I decided to just kick back and enjoy the show...

Until the award for Best Director was presented. And I was named as one of the nominees.

And because I was nominated for LOVE SUICIDES instead of the much more heralded KINGYO, I was already shell shocked. More so than when my name was announced after that.

I went on stage and received my trophy.

Then I did a "Hi dad!" who was sitting further away, among the audiences.

"Hi dad!" at the China Mobile Film Fest Award Ceremony

For a while, words failed me. I had not expected LOVE SUICIDES to be honoured. I only laughed for a while as I held the trophy. What a month it had been, what a way to end 2009. It was a rush of emotions before I gathered myself to give my (again, improvised) speech.

Accepting the Best Director award at China Mobile Film Fest 2009

Giving my acceptance speech at the China Mobile Film Fest Award Ceremony

(LOVE SUICIDES was also shortlisted for best short film, but I didn't win that)

After the ceremony.

Me with my trophy and certificate

Holding the Best Director award trophy with dad after China Mobile Film Fest 09 awards ceremony

Holding the Best Director with dad after China Mobile Film Fest 09 awards ceremony 2

19th of December. The festival had ended, and most were supposed to leave Shenzhen on that day, but dad and I decided early on to stay for another day just so we could at least check out the place.

Did some shopping, bought some souvenirs, and finally found some great noodles.

nice Shenzhen in noodles

With dad at the noodle shop

20th of December. I returned to Tokyo.