Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Long and Short of It

I went to Malaysian Shorts today, to hopefully get inspired for another short film project.

The last and only time I watched Malaysian Shorts before this was years and years ago. It was a few years after Amir Muhammad's 6horts - a series of six shorts which featured Pang Yau, a love story for a Chinese 'friend' featuring images of public Chinese people with a very private and intimate story told by the narrator.

The first Malaysian Shorts I saw was quite inspiring in the sense that a lot of the films were not very well-made. The idea is, if you watch something and go, "I can do better", your ego would at least propel you to actually try and do something. And by the time you actually stop and think, eight years have passed and four movies are out.

It is already much too late. Ohh, the DRAMA!

So anyway, I went to the thing at Help University, managing to find the wrong building and by means of abusing the bus which was meant to ferry students and not for corporate figures like me, finally located the theaterette.

I went back up for dinner, met Zedeck and Sharon Chin, then went down again to watch the shorts.
I was disappointed that none of them were extremely bad, and most of them were quite good. In the past eight years, the quality of the short films, in terms of story, storytelling, performance, technical skill, production values, etc, etc.

Leaps and bounds over the last Malaysian Shorts I saw several years ago, and also way better than the 600 or so shorts I saw as a judge at MVA.

Here's the story of how I got to be a judge at MVA.

I went back to the office and told my editor, "I like short films!" "Oh really? Well, go and sit down for three days to watch 600 short films at the National Arts Gallery or some shit. It's for MVA"

It wasn't that dramatic, but at newspapers, you can say you like anything, and they will give it to you in abundance until you can have no more. Until you began hating it, which is why most journalists are jaded. I told them I liked going to SIngapore, and I was sent there for an entire year's worth of trips until I hated it with the intensity of a thousand suns. And 600 shorts in three days was more than enough.

I believe it was 600 shorts, but it may have been 200 or a billion by the time it was over. The charm of earnest filmmaking wore off on me by the 50th entry, and when they finally showed one short that was about a girl who wanted to kill herself but used the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings, I felt something in my soul break.

Well, it wasn't that dramatic. But I was sick of it.

Tonight, though, ALL the shorts had loads of merit. Some were slick productions, while others had more heart. One short in particular - Leman - was amazing in its simplicity and brilliant execution. The comic timing was spot on, and they left enough ambiguity and subtlety to keep people - especially pseudo-intellectuals - deconstructing things inside their heads for hours.

I am not about to review 12 shorts I saw at Malaysian Shorts because I have a job tomorrow, but I can say that due to the high quality of shorts made by Malaysians, I am no longer confident of doing something half-assed at the 48 Hour KL Film thingy and getting placement. In fact, I believe that the only thing I will gain from doing the 48 Hour film thing in October, is experience, and maybe a bit of fun. ANd if I'm lucky, some pussy.

The Malaysian film industry has indeed grown, on all levels. And though it disappoints me that it is not as bad as before to ensure I can waltz through easily, I am at least convinced that some things do get better, in time, like in the homosexual campaign thingy.

Met a bunch of people as well, tonight, and they look like laughs in a barrel. People who don't take themselves seriously, which is always a joy because I am a person who often takes myself seriously, leading to depression, angst and chronic masturbation.

It's a pity I didn't get their numbers, but some are on Twitter, so... what else can I say that would have the same impact as ending it with 'chronic masturbation'?