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Sunday, January 31, 2016

RIP Jacques Rivette

The important French New Wave director Jacques Rivette passed away yesterday at the age of 87.

I felt a slight regret that I've never seen more of his films. Yet I remember very well the first. The very first Rivette film I saw would turn out to be his last, AROUND A SMALL MOUNTAIN. Caught this at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2009. It was a rather peculiar experience. Many of the film is set in a circus, where occasionally the line between reality and fiction is blurred, the theatricality of life is mirrored by the performances in the circus. I was a little confounded.

After that film I wanted to find out more about his previous films, and I was recommended two films that were considered his masterpieces. 3-hour CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING and the 12 1/2-hour long (!!) OUT 1 (Out 1, noli me tangere). I got hold of these films a few years ago, saw half of CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING, but didn't start with the latter. Perhaps I was intimidated by the length then, even though that was the particular period of time when I indulged myself in some of the longer films in history, like Bela Tarr's SATANTANGO, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ and a few of Theo Angelopoulos' earlier works. Committing to these long films can be a rather unique experience, like locking yourself in a room to binge-read a novel. You find yourself following not just the plot and characters, but immersing yourself completely in the world that was constructed, its particularly rhythm, and replaying earlier moments of the film in your mind which felt like an eternity ago.

Tony Rayns' open letter to the people of Busan supporting the work of Busan International Film Festival Director Lee Yongkwan

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the problems that the Busan International Film Festival had been facing recently. Basically the government had not been pleased that the festival had been screening a documentary about the sinking of MV Sewol in 2014. Since then, there had been one political attack after another, mostly attempts to force festival director Lee Yongkwan to step down, while the festival had to subject itself to censors.

It's horrifying to see a film festival become a pawn of politics. Film festivals exist as platforms for filmmakers to express themselves artistically, to show different perspectives, different cultures, different voices of different countries of the world, to educate the audiences, to educate the filmmakers. Film festivals exist for many things, therefore it's unsurprising that many directors and other film people have voiced their support for the Busan Film Festival over the last few weeks.

Yesterday, famed writer and festival programmer Tony Rayns wrote an open letter regarding this matter. This letter allows us to contemplate more on the value of film festivals, especially one as historic as Busan Film Fest. How the growth of a festival can affect the economy, culture and others of a particular country.

Tony Rayns writes an open letter to the people of Busan supporting the work of Busan International Film Festival...
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Thursday, January 28, 2016

I'm just gonna copy and paste the entire letter here, because this is necessary.

Friday, January 15, 2016

RIP Alan Rickman

It's tragic that every time I post here, it has something to do with a death.

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie // Space Oddities

David Bowie had just passed away. It's so sudden. I just got his latest album BLACKSTAR last night. I wanted to listen to BLACKSTAR in is entirety.

But for me, with Bowie, like most people, it started with Space Oddity. I'm posting his performance of the song, along with the various covers that I could find on Youtube. To help myself remember.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Trailer of Woo Ming Jin's documentary RETURN TO NOSTALGIA

I haven't been posting too much about RETURN TO NOSTALGIA since its world premiere last October. RETURN TO NOSTALGIA is a documentary directed by Woo Ming Jin as part of Busan International Film Fest's POWER OF ASIAN CINEMA series last year. For this series, 10 directors from 10 different Asian countries were each invited to make a 50-minute documentary regarding their own country's cinematic history. We were honoured to represent Malaysia.

Last night, we had the very first local screening of the RETURN TO NOSTALGIA, and the response had been immense, there weren't even enough seats for the audiences!

But before that, I would like to share with you all its trailer.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

We Support Busan International Film Festival

The Busan International Film Festival had getting a lot of pressure from the city of Busan after the screenings of a documentary, DIVING BELL in Busan International Film Festival 2014. They had (unofficially) asked for the resignation of the festival director LEE Yong-kwan and exercised political pressure on BIFF, like slashing the festival budget last year (Busan International Film Festival 2014 also happened to be the 20th anniversary edition of the festival)

They believe that putting pressure on them is a political retaliation and interference, I believe the same to. All Korean filmmakers and groups are standing tall together to secure the freedom of speech and artistic expressions, and keep BIFF from any kinds of political intervention.

Filmmakers from the rest of the world are doing the same too.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

This was how I ended 2015 and welcome the arrival of 2016

Just a simple walk from Shinjuku to Yoyogi, through Meiji Shrine, and finally to Shibuya.

I was thinking of doing my countdown either at Meiji Shrine, or at Shibuya Crossing. But having done my countdowns in some of the great shrines and temples the past few years (went to visit the Big Buddha at Nara's Todaiji in 2008, watched the release of thousands of balloons into the air at Zojo-ji in 2011, checked out the food stalls of Senso-ji in 2012) I opted for the latter.

It was a slightly different experience...

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Goodbye, Grantland

A favourite site of mine, Grantland, just got closed down yesterday.

Urgh. ESPN is closing Grantland. I'm depressed. It's usually one of the first sites I go to everyday. For its great articles on films, music and sports.
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Friday, October 30, 2015

After a day, things started sinking in. Its absence more strongly felt. Overwhelmed by a feeling of numbness, I tried to eulogize it on Facebook while sharing a link which listed a number of great Grantland articles that had accompanied me over the past few years.

Grantland just got shut down yesterday. It's been long time since I felt so much sadness for the closing of a website,...
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Sunday, November 1, 2015

This was what I wrote:

Grantland just got shut down yesterday. It's been long time since I felt so much sadness for the closing of a website, therefore I feel that I should be writing more about it...

When I was reminded that it started in 2011, I was couldn't believe it. Has it only been 4 years? It felt so much longer, maybe because I've been visiting the site everyday. At first, I was there for the sports stuff, the NBA articles were great. But gradually, the great film, television and other pop culture articles begin to appear. The writing is exquisite, and being in longform, it was absolutely a pleasure to go through them, immersing myself in the fine writing, the great content. Zach Lowe's intricate coverage of the NBA, Brian Phillip's almost-mythical tennis articles (his "Sea of Crises", which covers sumo, Mishima Yukio's seppuku during a trip in Japan is a delicious piece of writing which is as good as any literary work I've read), Wesley Morris' wonderful film reviews (I found myself nodding happily last year when he lauded Lav Diaz's NORTE as an "honest-to-goodness masterpiece"), Rembert Browne's coverage of Ferguson, Molly Lambert's illuminating album and TV reviews etc. Reading them had given me so much joy, it's probably the website that I visit most daily (aside from Facebook). Because it is exciting whenever they have new articles online.

And now it's all gone. Since then, numerous websites have shared their list of all-time favourite Grantland articles, and rereading them is giving me such a bittersweet feeling. The NBA season had just started, and sadly, strangely, I find myself at a loss.

What do I do now? Finish the last few pages of Murakami's WILD SHEEP CHASE, go through another few stories from Italo Calvino's ITALIAN FOLKTALES. Start my writing. Finish my editing. Perhaps make a longer list of things to do, just to distract myself from the growing void.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A 3-minute excerpt from Woo Ming Jin's THE SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES

While I'm hanging out at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Ming Jin is in Taipei for the Taiwanese premiere of THE SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES tonight at the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival.

To commemorate that, we have uploaded a 3-minute excerpt from the film, which shows the beginning of Lai and Mrs Tan's steamy love affair.

More related videos of THE SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES can be found on this playlist.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Remaining notes and photos from Busan International Film Festival 2015

All right, I'm so lagging behind that even though I'm already in Tokyo for the Tokyo International Film Festival, I'm still trying to wrap up my Busan Film Fest experience.

Okay, this will be my last post about this year's Busan Film Fest!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

[VIDEOS] Buskers in Tokyo

During my time in Tokyo from 2008 to 2013, I had enjoyed walking about at night, and stopping to watch and listen to buskers performing at the streets. I have shot a few videos, and posted all of them on this blog back then. Sadly, I've not shot any videos of them since 2011, I think. I guess once I picked up the habit of wearing my earphones all the time outside, I ended up walking past these performances without noticing. And mostly because I stopped carrying my Canon 7D with me all the time.

My Youtube account had been abandoned for quite a while, but nevertheless, looking through it a few days ago, I had a lot of fondness of these busker videos that I shot, so I decided to compile them into a playlist. Some of these musicians are still active, and it's worth rediscovering them.