Five films to catch at The O.P.E.N.

American dancer-choreographer Richard Move has played the legendary Martha Graham on film as well as in live performance. - PHOTO: COURTESY OF ANDREW HETHERINGTON
American dancer-choreographer Richard Move has played the legendary Martha Graham on film as well as in live performance. - PHOTO: COURTESY OF ANDREW HETHERINGTON

The O.P.E.N. is a 17-day programme launching on June 26 to whet appetites for the Singapore International Festival of Arts in August. The O.P.E.N. will screen some 20 films on themes such as violence, 20th century artistic icons, science and digital culture that will be taken up in live productions at the Arts Festival.

Lisabel Ting talks to local film-maker and curator of films at The O.P.E.N., Tan Bee Thiam, and recommends five films to catch.

1) Science Is Fiction - A Selection Of Short FilmsDirected by Jean Painleve/60 Minutes/1927-1982/France/Rating TBC/SilentJune 28, 1pm to 2pm

Science Is Fiction - Seahorse 1931 by Jean Painlevé. -- PHOTO: INSTITUT JEAN PAINLEVÉ, PARIS

Painleve’s series of short documentaries explores the fascinating lives of sea creatures and phenomena such as liquid crystals. The French biologist and film-maker directed over 200 science and nature films, and was the son of former prime minister of France, Paul Painleve.

Mr Tan says the director is “a very playful film-maker, in his choice of narration, in his choice of music being used. I think of all those films, the one about the seahorse is definitely one of his best - it looks at the life of seahorses, how they mate and how they love. In a lot of his films about sea creatures, he makes them feel so human to us”.

2) Ghostlight Directed by Christopher Herrmann/80 minutes/2003/USA/Rating TBCJune 29, 4.30pm to 6.30pm

Dancer and choreographer Richard Move performing as Martha Graham. -- PHOTO: JOSEF ASTOR

The story of dance icon Martha Graham, recreated by celebrated dancer Richard Move who plays Graham, is told through the eyes of ficticious documentary film-maker, Barbara Rosen.

Says Mr Tan: “I think it’s an interesting take on a legend, which shows her struggling with her own practice and academy. Having someone else, Richard Move, play her in the documentary ensures that it is a very multi-layered film about one of the icons of our time.”

3) Holy Motors Directed by Leos Carax/115 minutes/2012/France/Rating TBC/In French, English and Chinese with English subtitlesJuly 5, 7.30pm to 9.30pm

A still from the film Holy Motors. -- PHOTO: WILD BUNCH 

The cult film, which competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, follows a shadowy character called Oscar for a day, as he slips in and out of various characters.

Says Mr Tan: “It’s both a film about how someone can live and cope with a time like ours, and also very much a film about cinema... It talks about what if we make a film but the audience is not there, what if we are making a film about beauty but the beholder is not around anymore.

“It’s self-reflective, it’s funny and playful, it’s a film about the possibilities of cinema, when everyone says that cinema is dead.”

4) E Agora? Lembra-me (What Now? Remind Me) Directed by Joaquim Pinto/164 minutes/2013/Portugal/Rating TBC/In Portuguese with English subtitlesJuly 6, 7.30pm to 10.30pm

What Now, Remind Me by Joaquim Pinto. -- PHOTO: C.R.I.M PRESENTE 

Pinto, a man diagnosed with HIV, spent a year documenting his life while undergoing treatment.

Says Mr Tan of the documentary: “I think it’s personal, it’s intimate, it’s seeing what the film-maker and artist is going through. And I think that kind of intimacy can only be achieved by someone like him (Pinto), who uses personal digital means to create the movie and to connect with the people around him, and reach out to them.”

5) Non-Fiction Diary Directed by Yoon-Suk Jung/90 minutes/2013/South Korea/Rating TBC/In Korean with English subtitlesJuly 7, 7.30pm to 9.30pm

Non-Fiction Diary by Yoon-Suk Jung. -- PHOTO: 2013 1+1=FILM

The film shines the spotlight on Korea’s lost youth, and how the country has coped after the end of military rule in the 1990s.

“I saw it at the Berlin International Film Festival this year, and this will be its Singapore premiere. It’s a great film to watch, especially in the light of what happened in South Korea a few months ago,” says Mr Tan, referring to the capsizing of the Sewol ferry. The film also makes reference to the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store in 1995, where 502 people were killed and 937 injured.

He says the film “talks about a rapidly growing and transiting city like South Korea, the divides in society, how they cope with capitalist greed and the traumatic events of the last 10, 15 years, like the collapse of shopping malls, and how coming out of the dark period of military rule has changed the people, especially the young people in society”.

Admission to all films is through purchase of The O.P.E.N. pass and pre-registration at theopen.sifa.sg. The pass is available for $45 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg). All films will be screened at 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road.

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