Small Wonders

For those of you who feared that Lars Von Trier’s sequel to Dogville, Manderlay, will not make it to the local screen—fret not. It will be shown among 300 other feature films at this year’s Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF). While this year’s festival may not boast highly talked about films as in previous years, its offer of smaller, quality films should be lauded. Tickets will be on sale from Mar 20. Call 6292-2929 or go to Here are the 10 most highly anticipated picks, according to Festival Director Philip Cheah.
Touted as notorious local filmmaker Royston Tan’s (15) quietest film yet, 4:30, which premiered at last year’s Berlinale, stars Korean actor Kim Young Jun and newbie child star Xiao Li Yuan. 4:30 boasts hardly any dialogue, and centers on the alienation and detachment of Xioa Wu, a child from a single parent family. Wu leads a barely meaningful life, and finds solace in a mysterious Korean tenant Jung (Kim), who also faces restlessness with his life. Watch this to see how Tan has grown as a filmmaker.
The Book of the Dead
This sumptuous Japanese puppet anime by Kihachiro Kawamoto (Winter Days) is a haunted tale that centers on Iratsume, a woman who falls in love with the spirit of Prince Otsu. Even if Iratsume struggles to weave a shroud against her unrelenting lover, she becomes more and more drawn to him, towards an enlightening finale.
Dealing with race and being gay in a heterosexual world, Hong Kong director Simon Chung (Stanley Beloved) explores the life of Eric, a gay 17-year-old Chinese boy who has affairs with a succession of men in Toronto. Innocent took home the best independent film award at last year’s Canadian Film Board Awards.
Never mind that Nicole Kidman is not in this. The reliable Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) steps in as Grace, who was victimized in director Lars Von Trier’s (The Idiots) first part of his trilogy on the US, Dogville. In Manderlay, Grace stumbles upon a plantation in Alabama, and decides to liberate the slaves there, to shocking consequences. A must watch for avid followers of the brilliant Von Trier.
Men At Work
Fans of Iranian Abbas Kiarostami’s (A Taste of Cherry) work shouldn’t miss this one. This quirky film centers on four friends who encounter a strange enormous rock during a failed skiing trip. When they try to move it, their personalities clash, resulting in betrayal, defeat and, eventually, hope.
Perpetual Motion
This funny Chinese film centers on Niuniu, who wakes up one day to find her husband missing. She concludes that one of her three best friends—Lala, Qinqin and Madam Ye—has betrayed her and seduced her husband. When Niuniu invites them over for dinner, heads will inevitably roll. Directed by Ning Ying (I Love Beijing).
The President’s Last Bang
This quirky but politically charged film has been compared to Stanley Kubrick’s classic Dr. Strangelove in terms of plot and black humor. Korean director Im Sang-Soon’s The President’s Last Bang centers on a secret service agent Ju, who is assigned to kill the president, but the plot soon spirals out of control over the course of a single night.
Joan Chen (Saving Face) stars in this Chinese film directed by Zhang Yang, best known for his critically acclaimed films Shower and Quitting. Sunflower takes place from post- Cultural Revolution to recent moments in Chinese history, as a father and son must come to grips with the
changing times.
Famous Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano (Last Life in the Universe) tries his hand at directing in this much anticipated first effort. Comprising five shorts, Tori is a “visualization of dreams through live action and animation,” and includes “Sword of Mind,” about a calm samurai on the verge of revenge; “ATO,” which depicts graffiti art and skateboarders; and “Bird,” about a lively and spiraling bird—you have to watch this for yourself.
Wedding in Galilee
Acclaimed Belgium director Michel Khleifi’s political film from 1986, Wedding in Galilee, centers on the conflicts between an Israeli governor and the head of a Palestinian village. This unflinching look at power and destiny took home the International Critic’s Prize at 1987’s Cannes Film Festival.
Dates and venues of the screenings are unconfirmed at press time. Check for more details.