A Year and It's Cycle Opens to Something New.
Written by Elise Shick
A year just completed its cycle in the blink of an eye and here I am, standing in front of the audience crowd, announcing our failed Indiegogo campaign for SeaShorts Film Festival 2018.
Despite this fact, we still make the festival real, just with additional starvations added to our daily diet since the core team members have been working for nearly six months for a month's pay.
It's okay. We would always convince ourselves saying that everything's okay. We are learning and gaining experiences. We are friends, we have to starve together. That sounds more moving. But to be honest, life is really not easy when you had to think twice before ordering a roti canai.
Looking back at all the preparations we've done throughout the past months, I'm both shocked and overwhelmed. We've been paying ourselves with our efforts, sweats, and tears. Family don't really understand why we are organizing a film festival without pay; some friends couldn't see why we worked our asses off for such an 'insignificant' festival. But really, we swallowed all that and kept moving forward.
Today, the core team members stood in front of the invited guests, still feeling motivated even though exhausted while smelling a scent of freshness from the audience crowd. Each and every audience's look of excitement, a smile, or even an applause sufficed all the hard work.
SeaShorts 2018 had officially started on the 1st of August at 20:00 in conjunction and in partnership with George Town Festival. We are honored to have Amir Muhammad as our emcee for opening ceremony (as usual). As usual, he made jokes. Jokes that would make you laugh whether they were funny or not.
The opening ceremony proceeded with the screening of Chloe's Confession of A Programmer–a 20-minute film that comprises a series of interviews with some SeaShorts 2018 film programmers, including Jacky Yeap (Malaysia), Gertjan Zuilhof (The Netherlands), Thomas Barker (Australia), Leong Pui Yee (Singapore), Sanchai Chotirosseranee (Thailand), and Koyo Yamashita (Japan).
With the abstract music composed by Syukri, the film looks a little bit like an interrogation of CSI or any of that sort but a more friendly and intimate kind. One of the most amusing questions I found in this film was 'What if there's no cinema?' and while answering, Pui Yee laughed. While many lights have been shed on filmmakers, Chloe brought the less rewarding programmers to the big screen where they revealed and laughed at their dark secrets.
Jacky's programme 'My Student Film' served as the opening films. The programme featured the works of the now-established filmmakers' student works, dated decades back, including the works of Dain Said, Anthony Chen, Garin Nugroho, Sherad Anthony Sanchez, Edwin, Aditya Assarat, and Liew Seng Tat. The films were old but managed to survive the test of time. To Seng Tat's request, an audience gave him a cigarette. Seng Tat, who was reddened by few cups of red wine, lightened a cigarette while answering questions from the floor.
'Return of Salt Boy 1' was an exquisite curation programmed by Gertjan Zuilhof to emphasize on the indigenous communities in Southeast Asia. The programme had much to say about the forgotten people and people who disappeared with unjustified reason. Pimpaka's The Purple Kingdom was one of these films.
The screening ended after 00:00 and the audiences were still actively posing questions at Pimpaka. The film wasn't just about a wife seeking for the truth of her husband's death but also about the director's careful observation of this specific group of native that opened up another scope of view for films to blend in documentary and fiction with personal and genuine human connection between the outsider (the filmmakers) and the insider (the subjects).
The street was empty and the moon shone brightly by the time when the screening ended. We walked 24 minutes back to hotel while carrying an easel (for set up and deco purposes). Penang was lovely at night. The sound of TVs could still be heard outside of these old buildings. I peeked into the window of an old house and saw an old man watching a TV.
And me, as an outsider, got to catch a glimpse of his life.