Editor's Rating: 
Average: 1.5 (1 vote)
Freddy Rodriguez
Richard Dreyfuss
Josh Lucas
Kurt Russell
Emmy Rossum
Mike Vogel
Jimmy Bennett
Jacinda Barrett
Kevin Dillon
Mia Maestro
Directed By: 
Wolfgang Petersen

Poseidon is palpable entertainment, but only for those who have never seen a disaster film.

Opening Date: 
Thu, 2006-05-11
Running Time: 
Terry Ong
Brilliant Malaysian film director U-Wei Bin HajiSaari was in town recently for the world premiere of his short film My Beautiful Rambutan Tree in Tanjung Rambutan at the Singapore International Film Festival. The dark and bittersweet film, about sibling rivalry that turns horribly wrong, will next show at the Cannes Film Festival this month. The controversial and elusive U-Wei, who first came to our attention with his assured debut film Woman, Wife and Whore—about a wayward woman who stirs up various desires in a conservative village, way back in 1993—is arguably Malaysia’s best filmmaker. He tells Terry Ong what makes him tick.

I’ve always been a film buff, even during my primary school days. Growing up in a small town in Mentakab, Pahang, there were only two cinemas there. In Primary Two, especially, I remember escaping studies so that I could attend some of the films screening at the time—from Hindi films, to Westerns, etc.

At that time, I was already very attracted to films, but I didn’t know that I could make films, especially as a career. Then I realized, without sounding pretentious, that I knew more about films than most of my friends and relatives from the village that I grew up in. While most people were watching them for entertainment and the actors, I began to notice the sets, costumes, music etc. of the respective films. Only during my higher education, did I realize that one can study filmmaking, and I did. My relationship with film first started as an attraction, which later turned into a desire.

I love making films, but I also find it very difficult. Which is why I know I’m a filmmaker.

It tickles me when I think about all the controversy surrounding Woman, Wife and Whore. I felt that the story was very natural, and I don’t think I was being obscene at all, although some scenes from the film have been cut. I didn’t want to be controversial. I was just making a film with “real issues” that I wanted to deal with. I am still amazed and amused by the reactions to the film, especially the women who attacked it. I find them stupid.

I have done some commercial projects and TV dramas because I have to work, after all. But in whatever I do, I must be true to myself … doing stuff that I believe in. Even if I have made some mistakes, I think I made interesting mistakes. But most of my works center on themes of alienation, and being an outsider. I know how that feels like. It is something that I can identify with.

The new wave of Malaysian filmmakers is very aggressive and interesting. With digital videos, making films is cheaper now. But I worry that Malaysian filmmakers are trying to be “cute” these days. When I say “cute,” I mean they try too hard to be hip, sleek and stylish. It’s a dangerous thing to be “cute” as filmmakers need to find their own voices, and not try to be another Wong Kar Wai or Hou Hsiao-hsien.

I am still wondering when to slow or settle down. My next immediate projects are the play Wangi the Witness, to be staged in KL, and the feature film Sax and Telephone.
I would love to retire on a beach, somewhere in Trengganu, Malaysia.

There are quite a number of filmmakers that I would like to meet and have dinner with, such as British filmmaker Nicholas Roeg and Japan’s Kohei Oguri.

As a kid, I always thought that actors do their own stunts in films. I really thought they could fight! I wish I still believed that.

In whatever we do, we must always look beneath. That’s where the gems are.


Leave a Comment

Director Roger Donaldson tells the true story of motorcyclist Burt Munro in the film The World’s Fastest Indian, which is showing at the New Zealand Film Festival.

The World’s Fastest Indian may be successful Australian director Roger Donaldson’s most personal film to date. That is, after you consider the illustrious director’s previous pick of eclectic flicks such as the Tom Cruise romance Cocktail (1988), sexy thrillers No Way Out (1987) and The Getaway (1994), even sexier sci-fi thriller Species (1995), and the political and critically acclaimed Thirteen Days (2000). The World’s Fastest Indian tells the story of New Zealander Burt Munro, who competed in Utah’s legendary Bonneville Flats race in 1967 at record speeding time. It teams Donaldson with Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, whom the former had previously worked with in the film The Bounty way back in 1984. Donaldson, currently residing in Los Angeles, tells us why making a film about one of his personal heroes is so important to him.

Why The World’s Fastest Indian after the slew of bigger budgeted Hollywood films such as The Recruit (2003) and Dante’s Peak (1997)?
It’s one of my truest stories yet. In my 20s, I made a documentary about the life of Burt Munro, and it’s one that’s stuck with me all these years. His story is one that I can draw parallels to my life with—his obsessive nature and his love for both women and motorbikes. I mean, I love automobiles too, and my obsession with film is one that started a long time ago. The story also talks about the philosophies of life, and the prospects of growing old. It talks about all things that I value in life, basically.

It’s certainly one of your smaller and more personal films yet …
It’s good to make a film with a wonderful sense of humor, and one with a real personality. I mean, I like to make different types of movies—from sci-fis to epics, etc. I’m even exploring the prospects of making one using high definition video camera right now, and reading lots of scripts.

How do you choose your projects?
I like different genres, and I choose projects that I can best challenge myself with. But I don’t have a personal favorite. It’s like asking me to choose one of my favorite children out of my eight. The different films that I’ve done have been memorable for various reasons. The most important thing is in the creative process of making the films, really. Of course, the end product is important too, but the experiences making them is what I cherish most.

This film teams you up with Anthony Hopkins again after The Bounty. Were the rumors surrounding the tiff between you and Hopkins back then true?
(Laughs) Yes, they were true. The first time we worked together, it was extremely painful, but this time around, it’s a love fest! But you have to understand that the working conditions during The Bounty were rather demanding, especially since we shot the film in the tropics.

Are you surprised by all the positive reactions to The World’s Fastest Indian?
In a way, yeah. I didn’t set out to make a crowd-pleasing film. Even one of my daughters who saw the film enjoyed it, and said “Daddy, that’s you on screen!” She’s talking about the similarities between me and Burt Munro, of course. I have had lots of people writing to me about the film, more than any other film that I’ve directed—from old friends who’ve come out of the woodwork to various people from different age groups. So yeah, it’s been quite surprising.


Leave a Comment

For all our manicured lawns and tidy streets, this is a big city (sorry to have to point that out). And like any urban environment, there are some places that are more hellish than heavenly. Maybe it’s the heat, or the fumes, or the crowds or the noise—or a combination of all. After years of suffering in silence, we’ve decided to list the places, times and/or situations that try our patience...and our souls. 

Sundays in Little India

It may be one of the best bargain shopping spots (the 24-hour Mustafa Centre comes to mind) but come Sunday, it bursts at the seams with crowds that can only be likened to a convention of sardines. Our rule of thumb: just say no to that temptation to visit on a Sunday. Rumors of molestation (you don’t want to know how) are not unfounded, as we actually saw a couple of incidents ourselves while reporting this story. If you must go, women should avoid baring too much skin. Enough said.

Upper Paya Lebar Road

Riding along Upper Paya Lebar Road during the morning rush hour is truly a test of one’s patience and nerves. Aside from the nauseatingly bumpy ride—thanks in no small part to the numerous winding curves along the stretch and the road surface being replaced by clunky metal plates—you’ll also have to deal with the grinding noise of construction. All of this, mind you, is on top of the noxious fumes from the deadlocked traffic. Add to this the propensity of some taxis drivers to take this challenging route at top speed, and you have a road not unlike a motorcross track. The evenings aren’t much better either, with the only noticeable improvement being that all the construction work is gradually winding down for the day. Evel Knievel with monster wheels only need apply.

Amoy Food Center

This popular hawker center among workers in the CBD may have some of the best and cheapest food in Singapore, but this is also one of the most hellish places to visit during lunch. Apart from the endless queues (up to an hour), which start forming as early as noon at some of the more popular stalls, this is also one of the hottest places to eat in, with lousy ventilation to boot. Then there are the narrow walkways to negotiate while avoiding steaming hot bowls of food. Add to that the abundance of unsightly tissue papers that are used to reserve seats (and those that litter the floor), and you have one seriously uncool joint. And if the ambient heat here doesn’t kill you, the heat from the numerous gas stoves will. Welcome to Dante’s Inferno.

Orchard Towers

Though we admit a soft spot for its colorful characters, they can turn from sirens to demons if you look like you’re going to take their picture—one shot us such evil eyes we nearly peed in our pants. Walking to the back of the building confirmed our feeling that this is one of the seediest places in town, with pumping techno and pop music blaring from the many nightspots in the building, while middle-aged men chatted up the young and not-so-young girls and transvestites. Mutton dressed as lamb prowled upon by wolves in sheep’s clothing—it’s a real live animal farm. Who knew Singapore could be so wild?

Woodlands Causeway

There is hell to pay if you want to take advantage of all the cheap food and groceries available across the Woodlands Causeway. We don’t think it’s worth it, considering the hassle that one has to go through to get to the other side. If you’re taking the car, there is the perpetually unmoving, snaking vehicle queue, especially during weekends. And if you’re taking public transport, the stampede to get onto the bus should deter you from going back there, forever. The endless construction work on the JB side is also nauseating, adding to the already unbelievable motorcycle jam and chaotic crowd control. To pass the time, get out your fly swat to take pot shots at the motorcycles buzzing by. The whole experience is just infuriatingly painful.

Toilet Inside Golden Mile Complex

One of the most disgusting toilets we have ever encountered (especially the ladies), this wet and icky lavatory gets our vote for the original lava from hell. When we visited, the sinks and toilet doors were just plain filthy, not to mention the toilet itself. To top it off, they have the cheek to charge 10¢ for entry—and that doesn’t even include paper. Pleeze! We hope the World Toilet Organization will pay them a visit soon.

Suntec City Carpark

For a truckload of insanity try entering this no-man’s land on a weekend. We know of many people who have complained about getting lost in this sprawling labyrinth of a carpark that stretches beneath a convention and exhibition centre, a shopping mall and five office towers. And with more than 10 different main exits, we’re not surprised. Heck, they even have their own private buggies to help patrons locate their “missing” vehicles. Need we say more?

Taxi Queue at Ngee Ann City

We love love love the shopping, but dread the thought of having to get a taxi here when we’re done. Not only is it almost impossible to get a cab here in under 15 minutes, but the car fumes, engine heat and constant honking from the taxis add up to one frustrating and tiring experience. Could someone please market a designer gas-mask?

Orchard Underpass

Walking through the Orchard underpass, which links Orchard MRT station to Scotts Road, is generally breezy. But not on weekends, when the escalators are constantly out of service and buskers with naught talent blare out-of-tune pop songs from their jerry-rigged amps which can be heard from one end of the underpass to the other. What seems like the whole of Singapore out shopping descends into this hellhole. This way please to the Gates of Hell.

Tunnel Underpass at the CTE

Every time we drive through this underpass, especially during a massive jam, scenes from the movie Daylight—the Sylvester Stallone flick about a bunch of people trapped inside a tunnel during rush hour—flash through our minds. Not that that’s going to happen here, but the perpetual jam that stretches forever while you’re in the tunnel does invoke paranoia and claustrophobia what with the red brake lights, honking horns and build-up of exhaust fumes and tempers. Honk if you just want to scream “get me out of here.”

Lift Queue Inside Orchard Cineleisure

You know what’s really hell? You’re 15 minutes late for a movie (shame on you, but that’s another story), and you probably need another 15 just to get inside one of the four lifts filled with throngs of youngsters en route to the games arcade on the ninth floor. And forget trying to take the escalators, which require you to circle the entire floor to get from one flight to another. You end up having to dodge slow pokes meandering around the mall aimlessly. Excuse me, is this Night of the Living Dead?

Gambling Days

Never mind the millions of dollars up for grabs. There are perpetually millions of uncles and ah kongs shuffling around, jamming the betting outlets whenever there is a big draw, soccer match or race. The vibe here is weird, but friendly enough if you’re: (a) a serious punter; (b) actually know what’s going on; and (c) are willing to strike up a conversation or two with the rest of the gang. The one pictured here at Cecil Street is just one among many. Welcome to The Twilight Zone.


Leave a Comment

Style maestro Hideki Akiyoshi, creative director of Style Asia, recently staged the arts and fashion festival Motorola SUPER-Style Mix. This Japan native is one of the most clued-in and trendiest dudes in town, and probably owns more clothes than your whole family combined. Don’t believe us? Read on.

What is your current state of mind?
I’m still excited over Motorola SUPER-Style Mix, which was just over. It has been my dream for the last 20 years to do something like this.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be Ultraman when I was about three or four. Of course, as I grow older, I dreamt of owning my own beauty salon, and develop it into a popular hair salon chain, like Studio V.

What is your greatest achievement?
Work wise, it has to be SUPER Style-Mix. This showcase is all about how style and the fashion have evolved, and ultimately leading to the current industries that are so integrated in our lives. As for my personal life, I feel that my greatest achievements are having so many great friends around me, and of course, my partner and family.

What inspires you?
Plenty of things inspire me: Museums like The Palais de Tokyo, Pompidou Centre in Paris and Colette in Fourbre St-Honore, and fashion designers like Rei Kawakubo, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Paul Poislet.

What personal traits do you appreciate the most in others?
Creativity, initiative. I admire any person who has attained a state of mind and has no concern for material pursuits. For example, a fisherman, who may not possess expensive labels like Cartier, BMW etc, but who feels completely happy and at peace with his life.

Do you have a cause or do you support one?

Yes, I’m trying to help disadvantaged kids. I do not have children myself, but I love kids who dare to dream and have ambitions. I want to help these children.

Which living person do you admire most and would like to invite for dinner?
Hanae Mori, the great lady of Japanese fashion and Parisian haute couture, and my godmother, who is my mentor and idol.

What are you reading?
Han Nya Shin Gyo, a very popular Buddhism bible.

How do you spend your Sunday mornings?
Either snuggling in my blanket till late morning, or recovering from late night parties. I might also go for a swim or work out in the gym.

What is your idea of hell?
To constantly want more. I really want to stop this craving. If I’m 50, and still wanting, that’ll really be a living hell.

What is your guilty pleasure?
That will have to be my bad habit of splurging money. I simply love to spend, but most of the stuff that I have bought were never worn or used. Even after all these crazy buys, I still feel so empty.

What’s playing in your iPOD/MP3/CD player?
Too Many DJs and Coldcut.

What do you collect?
I buy everything in excess, mostly 10 of the same item every time. So right now, I have about 100 over books on photography, architecture and fashion, more than 300 T-shirts, 50 pairs of sneakers, and more than 200 jackets, shirts and toys combined.

What is your favourite item of clothing?
T-shirts, jeans and jackets.

What accessory sets you apart?
Everything! My combination of belts, shoes, necklaces, watches, rings and handkerchiefs.

What about you that scares others?
I tend to get over enthusiastic about everything and would go all the way to achieve what I feel is good. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

What did you believe at 18 that you wish you still believed now?
Money is not important. We can’t let materialistic gains rule our heart, but we must be driven by passion.


Leave a Comment

It’s been around for almost two decades, yet the 19th Singapore International Film Festival is still going strong with a more esoteric line-up than ever this year.

The Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF, Apr 13-29) has come a long way. From its early days in 1987, when the festival was first held at Golden Mile Complex (yes, that’s where erotic films are screened today), to its many screenings in defunct theaters such as The Majestic, Capitol Theatre and The Alhambra in the ’80s and ’90s, the festival has been known among avid movie fans as the place to catch arthouse and little-known Asian and international films.

Fast forward to 2006, and the festival is almost two decades old, and holds fort as one of the premier film festivals in the region. Apart from showing an average of over 150 films in its two-week run, it also presents The Silver Screen Awards, where Asian actors and directors are acknowledged for their achievement in film. Some of the names that have been recognized by the awards in the past include Japanese director Aoyama Shinji (Eureka) and Indonesian actress Dian Sastrowardoyo (Whispering Sands).

But beyond obscure Asian talents, the festival has also presented a slew of more well-known Asian and international films over the past 19 years—including many from The Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona), Tsai Ming Liang (What Time Is It There?), Lars Von Trier (The Idiots), Edward Wang (Yi Yi) and Jafa Panahi (The Circle). Indeed, the SIFF is well regarded for its quality programming that balances art and commercial viability. While most of the films that are showcased in-competition for the Silver Screen Awards are more obscure, films from the other categories, such as French Panorama, British Cinema and US Independents, are more recognizable, with brisk ticket sales.

Judging from the line-up this year, however, it seems that there are more little-known arthouse flicks than there are international critics’ picks. It is not entirely surprising, of course, considering that local film distributors such as Lighthouse Pictures, Festive Films, Shaw Brothers and Cathay have been bringing more and more popular arthouse films into local cinemas over the past two years. And what with the advent of Cathay’s The Picturehouse recently, which exclusively screens arthouse fares, the SIFF must stay ahead of the curve by bringing in a more novel and surprising selection. “What the SIFF has always been good at is spotting different film trends … and this year is no exception,” says its Director Philip Cheah. “I went to Manila twice in 2005, and what I’ve noticed is the rise of the digital format there among the new wave of Filipino filmmakers. The burgeoning Scandinavian cinema is also one to look out for,” he adds.

Despite a relatively tighter budget of $800,000 this year, compared to 2000-2004’s $1 million, the festival has still managed to come up with a strong, albeit more esoteric, selection. “Content wise, we’ve always been surprising. Audiences should select films based on their instinct, and not what foreign reviewers tell them to watch. The local eye is an interesting one, but the locals don’t trust their own eyes. So they often wait for the foreign eye to tell them what to see. What the festival has been doing is emphasizing the local eye,” asserts Cheah.

With that in mind, here are some of the highlights from this year’s festival according to Cheah, as well as interesting picks that I-S will make a beeline for.

Digital Revolution

Three strong digital films from the Philippines are showing in-competition for this year’s Silver Screen Awards, with two of them international premiers. Clodualdo del Mundo Jr.’s Pepot Superstar (Apr 25, 9:15am) is set in the ’70s and should be an enjoyable romp. It’s about a 10-year-old boy called Pepot who dreams of becoming a star. Whenever he is not in the streets begging for money, Pepot sneaks his way into the local cinemas, losing himself in celluloid where his fantasy is much sweeter than his reality.

John Torres’ Todo Todo Teros (Apr 26, 9:15pm) is a surreal film about an artist turned terrorist—a must-watch for its sardonic content. Cued mostly from found images made by the director’s close friends, including many musicians and performance artists, Teros is not only a comical farce, it’s also an innovative work of art that challenges the stereotypes of filmmaking.

Meanwhile, Raya Martin’s black-and-white silent movie, A Short Film About Indio Nacional (Apr 24, 9:15pm), should be compelling for its political content, which tells of the bloody emergence of the Philippines from Spanish rule in the 1890s.

More digital films from the Philippines: Magdalena The Unholy Saint (Apr 23, 9:15pm), which explores the difference between sin and salvation through the life of a prostitute, and Lav Diaz’s 10-hour Heremias (Apr 14, 11am), the concluding chapter in the famed director’s uncompromising trilogy of epics after Batang West Side and Evolution of a Filipino Family.

A for Arabia

There is also a slew of quality Arabic films in this year’s selection, co-presented by the National Museum of Singapore. “There’s certainly more happening this year in the Arabic movie industry, following Paradise Now, which was nominated at this year’s Oscars for Best Foreign Film,” says Cheah. Not only will newer Arabian films such as Bader Ben Hirsi’s A New Day in Old Sana’a (Apr 26, 7pm) and Josef Fares’ Zozo (Apr 14, 2pm) be showcased, one of the forefathers of Palestinian cinema, Michel Khleifi, will also have three of his films screened at the festival.

Some of the best from this category: Old Sana’a is the winner of Best Arab Film at the Cairo International Film Festival 2005, and tells of a groom who unexpectedly falls in love with a low-class orphan gypsy. Zozo is a more riveting tale of a 10-year-old who must travel from Beirut to Sweden during times of war. Iraq: The Song of the Missing Men (Apr 22, 7pm) is a documentary that tells of the common Iraqi identity, and how intellectuals, mullahs and priests live their lives. The rare showing of Michael Khleifi’s works is also essential: The cult Wedding in Galilee (Apr 15, 9:15pm) from 1986 centers on political upheaval between an Israeli governor and head of a Palestinian village, while Tale of the Three Jewels (Apr 16, 11am) from 1995 is a scandalous mix of documentary and fantasy, and centers on the love between a gypsy girl and a 12-year-old boy.

Northern Exposure

This year’s line-up includes some strong Scandinavian features, especially those from Denmark and Norway. Watch out for Danish director Lars Von Trier’s much-anticipated Manderlay (Apr 16, 4:15pm), the follow-up to the brilliant Dogville in 2003. Fans of sexy thrillers must check out Norway’s Next Door (Apr 14, 9:15pm) by Pal Sletaune, which follows the explicit journey of a man and his relationship with two wild women. The animation film Grandpa is a Raisin (Apr 28, 9:15pm) should also be a delightful watch, as it is a charming tale of a grandfather who must prepare his granddaughter to play in the snow.

The Danish film selection also offers good choices to catch. The gritty Angels in Fast Motion (Apr 15, 7pm), by Ole Christian Madsen, tells of a young and restless trio—Maria, Allan and Steso—and how drug abuse leads them to the brink of the abyss.

The Asian premieres of Flies on the Wall (Apr 28, 7pm) and Lost and Found (Apr 20, 9:15pm) are also top-notch. The former is a thriller that centers on a documentarian who discovers the dark secrets of the city of Ravnsborg, while the latter is a bittersweet tale about an aging toy-seller and his relationship with his estranged family.

Not To Be Missed

For a good mix of arthouse flicks with commercial sensibilities, these recommendations are surefire hits: Touted as notorious local filmmaker Royston Tan’s (15) quietest film yet, 4:30 (Apr 29, 7pm), 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 dialog, and centers on the alienation and detachment of Xiao 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 one to see how Tan has grown as a filmmaker.

The quirky but politically-charged The President’s Last Bang (Apr 14, 7pm) from Korea has been compared to Stanley Kubrick’s classic Dr. Strangelove in terms of plot and black humor. Director Im Sang-Soon’s quirky thriller 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.

Famous Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano (Last Life in the Universe) also tries his hand at directing in his much anticipated first effort, Tori. Comprising of five shorts, Tori (Apr 27, 9:15pm) is a “visualization of dreams through live action and animation,” and consists of “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 one for yourself.

Fans of famed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (A Taste of Cherry) shouldn’t miss his subtly funny Men at Work (Apr 27, 7pm). This quirky film centers on four friends who encounter a strange, enormous rock during a failed skiing trip. When they attempt to move it, their personalities clash, resulting in various issues such as betrayal, defeat and eventually, hope.

But for something more bizarre, we recommend Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend The Knee (Apr 23, 9:15pm), with its bizarre storyline and brilliant visuals. This definitive film from the always unpredictable Maddin, whose last film is the equally far-out The Saddest Music in the World, centers on an abortion gone awry, which later turns into a murder most foul—you wouldn’t want to miss this one, or any of the recommendations here for that matter.

Visit www.filmfest.org.sg for more ticketing and venue details.


Leave a Comment

Photographer Peter Skalberg takes snapshots of graffiti and turns them into works of art.

Never mind that stencil art is an almost non-existent art form in Singapore. Australian painter-photographer Peter Skalberg, who travels frequently to New York and back home to Melbourne, finds a certain charm in it. “On my travels, especially in Melbourne and New York, I come across striking pieces of work,” he says. “I photograph them and have been lucky enough to have the work displayed for exhibition. It’s taken many years to get to this spot today, but it’s been worth it.” All 40 photographs in the exhibition, each of them one-offs, are reproduced onto textured A1 and A0 high format paper, and cost between $1,500-2,300 each. We talk to Skalberg about his first solo exhibition here.

Why your fascination with stencil art?
My fascination is not just for stencil art, although there is a lot of it appearing on the walls of Melbourne. I’m just fascinated with any organic type of art that captures my imagination. This could be a poster that has been recreated to communicate a message, or a graffiti-based piece of work that has been re-edited into an identifiable shape or face.

It’s fascinating because there is real talent involved with many of these images. They are spontaneous, dynamic and real. There is nothing false about the work and it comes from the heart. It’s produced via emotion and insight. In an age of consumer marketing and advertising where most images we see are perfected and created in a closed environment, the work we see on the walls of streets in NY and Melbourne are pure expressions untainted by consumerism.

Why photography?
The organic nature of stencil is such that it may appear only for a few weeks or days, and it is then replaced with another image—they are very representative of life itself. Everything changes and is reformed into new life via the life cycle. My interest is to capture these moments of expression, and ultimately show others as well. Whilst I paint and have my own creative talents, it is my perspective on what I am seeing that is important and how I can communicate it.

Do you think stencil art will ever become a phenomenon in Singapore?
Stencil art will never become a phenomenon in Singapore in our lifetime. Urban art, or whatever you want to call it, is organic, real and a natural expression of an individual. The Singapore I know would never let people stencil work or paint on the sides of buildings at their own creative pleasure; and they shouldn’t, as it would ruin the look of the city. The work that I have represented in the exhibition are small samples of thousands of images appearing in Melbourne and New York, and they can be a real eyesore. So, for good reasons, we will not be seeing this type of work in Singapore.

Who are some of your favorite stencil and street artists?
These street artists are anonymous. That’s the beauty of the work. It comes and goes and anybody can add to it. It’s the energy, color and simplicity of the work that appeals to me.

What’s the main theme or point that you’re trying to address with this exhibition?
The main objective of the exhibition is to reveal other directions in art such as urban art that can be just as interesting, involving and appealing as a Rembrandt painting. Hopefully people will see the realness of the work, its organic birth and depth.


Leave a Comment

The New World

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Colin Farrell
Christopher Plummer
Christian Bale
Q'Orianka Kilcher
Directed By: 
Terrence Malick

The love story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith plays second fiddle to the beautiful visuals in Terrence Malick’s The New World.

Opening Date: 
Fri, 2006-03-24
Running Time: 
Terry Ong
From high fashion to high street; from newbie locals to established internationals, this year’s Singapore Fashion Festival has it all.

This year’s Singapore Fashion Festival (SFF), to be held from Mar 24-Apr 2, promises to be more exclusive and luxe than ever, with over 20 major fashion shows featuring high end labels such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Salvatore Ferragamo and Diane Von Furstenberg, to be showcased alongside cult local labels such as Alldressedup, Ashley Isham and Baylene . “Given the festival’s reputation over the years, it enables local designers to really have a platform to be seen by the greater international fashion community,” says Graeme Lewsey, SFF’s Marketing & Communications Manager. “We believe that the success of the festival instills confidence for emerging designers to grow.”

And even before the festival officially opens with a show featuring fashion brand Kenzo, at the festival’s pre-opening party on Mar 23, MTV Fashionably Loud is already setting the festival’s vibrant tone, featuring rock-influenced fashion trends and a live performance by über cool British band, Placebo. With famed British model Lily Cole (who will host selected shows in this year’s program) as the face of the festival, you really wouldn’t want to miss this party. Here’s our pick of some of the most exciting shows to look out for at SFF 2006.

Sky High

Apart from Lily Cole, celebrities from the Salvatore Ferragamo family—daughter Fulvia Visconti and grandson Salvatore Jr.—will be gracing the festival at the Salvatore Ferragamo show on Mar 25, 8pm. Its latest Spring/Summer collection, the exotic FIERA, featuring fiery animal prints and colors (hence its name), will tantalize with a cacophony of brilliant hues, clashing colors and striking pieces. One of the highlights of the show is the dragon stiletto, which is 10cm tall and sheathed in 18k gold leaf. You can’t miss this golden- colored showpiece, with its entwining chains which wrap around the ankle, and its finely chiseled flower designs.

The other major fashion show to look out for is from Diane von Furstenberg on Apr 1, 8pm, where her feminine yet bold designs are being shown for the first time at the festival. The Brussels-born designer’s works have been worn by the likes of Paris Hilton and actress Kirsten Dunst, and her carefully constructed pieces mix class with irreverence. Both her Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections are being showcased back to back, as the more showy and elaborate coats are juxtaposed with the lighter and brighter skirts and blouses.

Classic Italian label Missoni—founded by Rosita and Ottavio Missoni—will also have a go at the festival on Apr 2, 8pm, with its timeless designs that have wowed the fashion industry since the ’60s. This season, Missoni’s luxurious tactile materials are embedded with floral patterns and prints resembling stylized puzzles—a collection that marries art and function. But more than just that, corset dresses, fretworks, iridescent sequins and scarf bras will be presented on the catwalk show as well.

Other high-end international designer shows to check out: Kenzo (Mar 24, 8pm), where its most striking and beautiful Spring/Summer pieces will be unveiled, and Jean-Paul Gaultier (Mar 29, 8pm), which will collaborate with L’oreal for a selection of fashion-meets-beauty runway shows.

Local Motion

Numerous Singaporean designers will also be taking centerstage with their cutting edge designs, including the London-based Ashley Isham, whose modern gowns have been flying off the shelves in Paris and London. Hot out of the cutting room is Isham’s highly anticipated Autumn/Winter collection on Mar 26, 8pm, which will feature more of the designer’s trademark well-draped fabrics, Asian print motifs, beadings and exquisite threadworks. Isham’s gowns are lovely and versatile, and their floor-sweeping theatrics have won over many London fashionistas who have proclaimed him as the next big thing.

The talented Sven Tan and his successful label Alldressedup, will unveil a new collection which is still being kept under wraps. Inside word has it that Tan’s latest designs are a major departure from his previous African-themed collections. Industry observers are already making a beeline for the show on Mar 27, 8pm, which will focus on the cultures of Japan and Morocco. Look out for stunning origami and Islamic jacquard prints, as well as Swiss cotton, lined jersey and silk micro taffeta—complete with a color palette of red, white, black and gold. You heard it here first.

In an interesting collaborative showcase, Nicholas Wong from his eponymous label Nicholas and Baylene Li from Baylene will present together Show & Tell—Baylene & Nicholas on Mar 30, noon. Unlike the rest of the shows, the two young designers will have a post-show interactive session, where audiences can talk with the designers about their work process in creating the pieces. Baylene’s Spring/Summer collection is inspired by children’s playgrounds, and features wearable yet tailored pieces in loose silhouettes—a trademark of the designer’s—while Nicholas’ range is more serious, and fuses somber black coats and jackets and striped blouses with vintage retro finishing.

For something more rambunctious, Jo Soh’s first ever solo show for her label Hansel, which has a strong local following, will feature trained dogs that will also act as sideshow models on Mar 27, noon. The label’s name is based on Soh’s very own canine, but the clothes are anything but playful. Hansel’s Spring/Summer show features feminine, chiffon dresses crossed with masculine check fabrics, and is one of Soh’s strongest collections yet.

Department store, Tangs, will also present a selection from its Wardrobe collection, namely new local brands including Martina Pink, Tamara and Moonstone on Mar 25, 4pm. The Martina Pink pieces, in particular, are eye-catching and extremely wearable, as a wide range of colors from viridian green to vintage gold grace the soft and handcrafted fabrics—creating an elegant yet accessible collection.

Street Smarts

For those looking for something edgier, look no further. The G-Star show on Mar 25, noon, featuring a selection of beautiful models specially selected from a nationwide competition held last month, is the one to go to. Its Spring/Summer selection is a mix and match of checks, stripes, unconventional graffiti prints and rock music influences, topped with bright hues of orange, white, blue and green. If that is not street style, we don’t know what is.

Also being unveiled in Singapore for the first time is the Unique range from ubiquitous high street UK label, Topshop, on Mar 31, 4pm. The latest collection is a move away from the Topshop’s previous vintage looks, and features pieces with higher price points. Some of the highlights include jackets with exposed seams, softened silhouettes with more deconstructed shapes, and sexy plunging low-cut dresses in slinky silk jersey for that wow factor. The collection also establishes the usually affordable Topshop label as a major fashion force to be reckoned with.

More Brit greats can be discovered at Hybrit 06, Mar 25, 6:30pm, where newer upcoming designers and accessory makers such as Robert Cary-Williams, Jesse Noy and Anamika Khanna will be there in person to present their pieces. Cary-Williams’ works are characterized by delicate dresses made from soft leathers and luxurious silks, while the Noy’s funky designs are inspired by BMX bikers and skate culture. But more than just a one-off fashion show, Hybrit 06 will also see various other designers, such as design duo Stereotype customizing one-off T-shirts, and hat maker Bernstock Speirs creating special headgear throughout the event’s eight-day run till Apr 2.

For more group shows, head down to the Mercedes-Benz Asia Fashion Award—Regional Finals on Mar 28, 7pm, at Zouk where emerging Asian talents such as Singapore’s Sekino Keisuke and Aloysius Liew Guo Jian and Taiwan’s Frank Hu will compete for the top prize in the regional showdown. Some of these creators’ best pieces will take centerstage in this smorgasbord of indie fashion.

With so much to see at this year’s SFF, you had better make sure that you’re all dressed up for the stellar lineup.

All shows are held at The Tent @ Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd. Hybrit 06 is held at City Square, 1/F, Raffles City Shopping Centre. Log onto www.singaporefashionfestival.com.sg for updates.

Into the Woods

Arguably Singapore’s most successful fashion export, WOODS & WOODS’s Jonathan Seow will present his Autumn/Winter collection, which is already a hit in Paris.

Taking place at the Red Dot Traffic Building as part of the mammoth celebration of arts, fashion and culture, the Motorola SUPER-StyleMix 06 is where revered local designer Jonathan Seow from WOODS & WOODS will present his Autumn/Winter collection on Apr 4, 7:30pm. Seow’s highly established designs are regarded for their meticulous cut and detailing that evoke modernity and exclusivity, and ranks alongside Martin Margiela and A.P.C. as some of the most sought-after casual wear among fashionistas in the know. Here, Seow waxes lyrical as he lets us in on his upcoming fashion show.

How is this show going to be different from your previous ones held in Singapore?
The theme of the show, and the title of the collection, is “Beasty Beuys.” The title itself is an expression and an attitude … how we loosely describe the kids who will be models in the show. They are mainly street chaps who are constantly related to the simultaneous remoteness and uncanny familiarity of old pictures. Their youthful lethargy, or vigor, in turn, instigates a series of takes on daily street codes, and having injected romantic sensibilities, they take on a transformation of an “existential urban dandy.” However, in the show, we would like to reflect another side of these kids as well. All the models in the show are basically from the streets.

But more than just a fashion show, “Beasty Beuys” will also feature photographic works and design elements, courtesy of fashion photographer Ivanho Harlim and graphic designer Melvyn Quek. Tell us how this collaboration came about.
Well, me and Ivanho Harlim have been working together for the past four to five years on various collaterals, photography exhibitions etc. Some of these previous collaborations may not have been presented here, but they were shown in Paris during Fashion Weeks. I think this recent collaboration is only natural since Ivanho and Melvyn understand and enjoy working together. We see the chemistry between each other’s works, and it’s not forceful at all. We respect each other’s works and we do not see collaboration as simply a matter of style.


Leave a Comment

No surprise here: Little seen indie gems are still the main draws at this year’s Singapore International Film Festival.

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 www.ticketcharge.com.sg. 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 www.filmfest.org.sg for more details.


Leave a Comment