Sunday, September 27, 2009

Notes on BIFF 2009 (Part Uno)

I spent much of my weekend inside the darkness of the cinema for the Bangkok International Film Festival 2009.

I have seen only a handful coz there's just way too many good movies for the festival's short six-day run. I painstakingly organized my schedule for the movies I felt I NEED to catch like I was running in the Olympics or something.

I prioritized watching the Pinoy films, around five of them this year, but for this post I'd quickly comment on the non-Pinoy ones I've seen so far.

Xavier Dolan was only 20 years old when he directed the heartwarming I Killed My Mother. Not only did he direct it but he also wrote and starred in this supposedly semi-autobiographical tale of a boy's relationship with his mother as a rebellious sixteen-year old. Something perhaps many of us could relate to?

I was initially shocked with Hubert Minel's (Xavier Dolan) strong and foul language in his recurrent yelling-fest with his mother, played by the amazing Anne Dorval. However, it turns out that what they have is a truly love-hate relationship common to kids of his age (albeit, I believe the fights may not always be that intense).

At once poignant and at the same time amusing, the movie received three honors in this year's Cannes Film Festival and is also Canada's entry to next year's Oscars.

Another Cannes winner this year is Antichrist (Best Actress for Charlotte Gainsbourg). Lars von Trier's latest offering created a buzz in the aforementioned festival for its explicitly violent content, which Bangkok's audience also met with gasps and ewwws in unison (at least in the screening I attended).

The movie deals with a couple's grief over the loss of their son and their retreat to a cabin in the woods where the husband (Willem Dafoe), who is a psychotherapist, tries to treat his wife. The forest seems to haunt them, which rather than bringing the couple together only provoked them instead to attack each other.

The movie is graphically brutal, but more than the violence, what is more disturbing for me is how to tie all the themes together. There's its aspect of nature's brutality interspersed with intense sexual desire.

Many critics howled over Antichrist's supposed misogyny. On the other hand I thought the film is feminist. Well, whatever he wishes to convey, Lars von Trier succeeds in yet again coming up with a very provocative work.

My favorite film so far is the documentary Burma VJ by Anders Ostergaard. The film chronicles the dangerous work of a set of Burmese video reporters who stealthily covered the now famous Saffron Revolution in late 2007.

The reporters were entrenched into the protests led by Buddhist monks, perhaps one of the largest anti-government demonstrations the country has seen since the 1980s. These valuable footage were then sent to the Democratic Voice of Burma headquarters in Oslo and was the main source of the images that the world saw on every major news organization.

See the trailer below.



The courage of the reporters were undoubtedly heroic but more than anything else, the documentary shows the escalating resolve of the Burmese to fight against the decades-old repressive junta. I had to hold back my tears in many sections of the movie. It's quite tempting to cheer for these people if not for the fact that we all know how things eventually turned out.

This is definitely an important documentary that would hopefully entice more people outside of Burma to step-up their advocacy for political reforms in the said country.

To wrap this up, I just want to note that I have seen two Filipino films so far and in the coming days will need to watch three more. I shall share my impressions on these films in a separate post. Also, tomorrow I'm looking forward to catching Broken Embraces, Pedro Almodovar's latest masterpiece (I hope it is).

7 comments:

<*period*>; said...

heard about the canada movie..mukhang maganda nga..sana lang mayruon ng torrent file na pwedeng ma-download...

wish i could go to bangkok kahit minsan sa buhay ko

Man of the Rose said...

When did you see "I Killed My Mother"? Saw it yesterday and it's definitely the best entry I've watched so far.

Lyka Bergen said...

Aba naunahan ako sa Anti-Christ! Tse!

I want to see all three movies especially Burma VJ. Trailer pa lang... may goosebumps na ako.

fuchsiaboy said...

di ba kasali ang 'in my life' sa festival? ;)

Lyka Bergen said...

Leche ka Don! Kahit sa San Francisco Gay Film Festival, di matanggap ang pinaghalong itsura nina Doods at Ate Vi. Chus!

kawadjan said...

Period: Maganda nga, mare. Malay mo in a few months nasa torrent na yan. Goooorah ka na ng BKK?! Watch tayo ng movies dito.

MOTheR: I watched it last Sunday. I suppose we went to the same screening. I should get your number na talaga.

Lyka: Oo nga pala, Lars Von Trier fan kah. Pwede ka sa movie na to. Choz!

Donita: Hahahaha. Si Lyka na nag-respond.

Summer said...

saffron rev..hm...:) thanks for the info

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