Synopsis

Selected films are provided with English subtitles.

Drifting

Director: Lam Sum|Production: Year 2011 Graduate Class of the Film & TV School of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts|Cantonese and Udu, with Chinese and English Subtitles|2011 / Hong Kong / 16mm Colour Film / 23min

Fai, a ten years old boy who’s a new immigrant from mainland China, he lives in a narrow suite with his mother and his step-father.

The step-father loves gambling, the mother works long hours and seldom at home, Fai vaguely has the idea of “family”.

One day, he met a Pakistani boy Khan, who was born and raised in Hong Kong. Khan, as a local, shown Fai of his new home and brought him to family dinners. However, while the friendship is building up, Khan’s family has to move out of the community because of the city redevelopment and the rising property cost. The city seems lonely and helpless for everyone.

The only thing Fai wants to do, is to bid Khan farewell, the only connection between this city and him.

Homecoming

Director: Kwok Zune / Producer: Leung Pui Yi, Leung Pui Pui|Cantonese, English and Takalog, with Chinese and English Subtitles|2009/ Hong Kong / 16mm Colour Film / 31min

A mother leaves her family, because she loves her family, yet what she gets in return is the unbearable weight of reality.

Filipina Charlie left her little boy and came to Hong Kong to be a maid. She has been the main breadwinner for the family for more than twenty years. And for more then twenty years, her family has been torn apart. As she retires, she thinks she will be able to live with her son who just graduated from university…

The Hour of the Furnances

Director: Fernando E. Solanas, Octavio Getino |Production: Pino Solanas|Spanish with English and Chinese Subtitles|1968 / Argentina / B&W / 248min

The Hour of the Furnaces is a product of the raging 60s. It was a response by directors Fernando E. Solanas and Octavio Getino to the Argentine military Junta and to the Latin American liberation movements. It is also a manifesto against commercial film (the First Cinema) and art film (the Second Cinema). The directors proposed the Third Cinema and new ways of making and critiquing films (In short, it integrates Film with Action to effect change in society; and to affect  audience with reason as well as emotion turning them  from passive consumers into active participants .) The film successfully blends theory, action, form and content into a brand-new art form, investigating the notions of ‘violence / armed force’ and (neo)colonialism, which are still relevant to Hong Kong today. The film was banned in Argentina. Yet it has attracted great attention in international film circle and washailed a classic of ‘revolutionary film’, ‘militant film’ and so on. There are continuous interests in the Third Cinema. Conferences, books, discourses and studies on the subject turn up from time to time since its inauguration.

Extended Reading: Solanas and Getino’s article “Towards a Third Cinema” (http://www.documentaryisneverneutral.com/words/camasgun.html)

End of Civilization

Director: Franklin López |Production: submedia.tv|English with Chinese Subtitles|2011 / Canada / 75min

END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations. Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END:CIVasks: “If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?”

The causes underlying the collapse of civilizations are usually traced to overuse of resources. As we write this, the world is reeling from economic chaos, peak oil, climate change, environmental degradation, and political turmoil. Every day, the headlines re-hash stories of scandal and betrayal of the public trust. We don’t have to make outraged demands for the end of the current global system — it seems to be coming apart already.

But acts of courage, compassion and altruism abound, even in the most damaged places. By documenting the resilience of the people hit hardest by war and repression, and the heroism of those coming forward to confront the crisis head-on, END:CIV illuminates a way out of this all-consuming madness and into a saner future.

Backed by Jensen’s narrative, the film calls on us to act as if we truly love this land. The film trips along at a brisk pace, using music, archival footage, motion graphics, animation, slapstick and satire to deconstruct the global economic system, even as it implodes around us. END:CIV illustrates first-person stories of sacrifice and heroism with intense, emotionally-charged images that match Jensen’s poetic and intuitive approach. Scenes shot in the back country provide interludes of breathtaking natural beauty alongside clearcut evidence of horrific but commonplace destruction.

END:CIV features interviews with Paul Watson, Waziyatawin,  Gord Hill, Michael Becker, Peter Gelderloos, Lierre Keith, James Howard Kunstler, Stephanie McMillan, Qwatsinas, Rod Coronado, John Zerzan and more.

La Commune1871

Director: Peter Watkins |Production: 13 Production, La Sept Art,
Musée d’orsay|French with English and Chinese Subtitles|1999 / France / B&W / 345 minutes

For more information: http://www.mnsi.net/~pwatkins/     http://www.rebond.org/

1.

‘Look! This is where we shot the last scene yesterday.’ Two actors show the camera (us) the set where La Commune was made. Please do not think you are watching a documentary of the film for the camera will soon become the journalist/ cameraman of the Commune TV, going about interviewing people. Yes, I mean TV! In the film, you will watch TV news in 1871! Do not mistake this film for a farce as Peter Watkins is more serious than anybody else and few can match his concern for the society. He is also an ardent inventor in film and television arts. Anachronism is just one of his alienating tactics. In this film, actors sometimes play the roles and sometimes play themselves to talk about their feelings at the moment and commend on the characters. When a group of Commune women shift their discussion of French women’s predicaments in 1871 to that of 1999, men in the commune are talking about TV, the modern media, and the decline of Japan. Issues of different times and places juxtapose, intersect, and reflect on each other pressing and close to home.

As a film artist and activist, Watkins challenges the director centered traditional undemocratic way of filmmaking that renders audience as passive recipients. Watkins meticulously designed and controlled the production of La Commune but he also demanded and gave plenty of room for active participations from the actors. The director provides the backbone and the framework while everybody involved fills in the flesh and blood. For example, the important components of the film —dialogues and discussions— are taken from real discussions among actors during rehearsals who were told to play out the characters they have meticulously researched as well as their real selves in present day France. This is democratic collective creation in a controlled manner. On the activist level, he laments the lost of commitment and idealism and explains on his website why he made this film: “. . . the idea of commitment to a struggle for a better world, and of the need for some form of collective social Utopia [Paris Commune] – which WE now need. . . “and review many of the issues raised in the Commune but still failed to be resolve today. Therefore, he alienates the audience but requires them and the actors to participate at the same time in discussing many of the issues. For this purpose, he left a lot of space and information for audience to discuss (He did not mention it but such practice reminds me of an Argentinean documentary, Hours of the Furnaces, where the film stopped screening midway and asked audience to start discussion). The discussions inside and outside the film are parts of a social action. People playing members of the Women’s Union in the Commune later actually formed a group to fight for the issues raised in the film. Thus social action steps out of the screen and into our real lives. La Commune is Watkins at his best and is exemplary of using filmmaking as social action. In Britain, only Ken Loach’s works can barely match the strong social and political sense of Watkins’ and Watkins has an edge over Peter Greenaway in setting his experimentations on solid social grounds. This short introduction can hardly do justice to such a rich film as how to show and use the film already require great wisdom. I better leave our clever audience to fathom its depths.

***

2.

Inside a giant warehouse in a working-class Parisian suburb, Peter Watkins assembles a cast of over 200 non-professional actors (though their amateur status is undetectable). Basing their work upon thorough historical research, they will attempt tore- create the events of March, 1871-the rise and fall of the Paris Commune.

La Commune (Paris, 1871) explores that famous, brief, romantic, and tragic period when poor and working-class Parisians rose up against the “bourgeois” French national government, which fled the capital and re-established itself in Versailles. As this complex historical drama unfolds, it is also “ covered” by two television news crews – one from “National TV Versailles” which broadcasts the official version of events, the other from “Commune TV,” giving voice to the rebellious Communards.

Mixing past and present, revolutionary in form as well as content, Watkins’s audacious masterpiece forces us to confront notions of a safe or objective reading of the past, and also to reflect, inevitably, upon the present. No one who meets the challenge of La Commune (Paris, 1871) will be unchanged by the experience.

Reasons for the Rage

Director:Samuel Luret |Writer:Alain Bertho |Production: Morgane Production and ARTE France|French with Chinese Subtitles|2010 / France / 50min

Everywhere on earth is filled up with rage. Why those being ignored and powerless resort not only to tears, but also to force? In Greece, Denmark, France, Germany, Britain, or even in China, vigorous protests are happening. It is worth noting that, these incidents, which are stigmatized by the mass media as ‘riots’, mostly happened in the cities of the First World.

In order not to make simplified judgment towards the word ‘rage’, that is, to take it as an improper vent of personal emotion, we ought to understand, with the influence of capitalized globalization, what has been the fountainhead of rage for those being ignored.

Associated with the analysis by French sociologist, Alain Bertho, and philosopher, Toni Negri, these angry stories has reflected the reason of the general outbreak of riots under different political regimes. It also allows us to have a deeper understanding on the crisis, as well as the outbursts of anger of this era.

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