Waltz with Bashir

Directed by Ari Folman | 2008 | 90min | Animation/Documentary/Drama/War |
In Hebrew/Arabic with English subtitles | R21
25 Nov (Thur), 8.30pm / 27 Nov (Sat), 4.15pm

The powerful motion picture, Waltz with Bashir, is the first feature-length animated documentary in cinema history.  Composed of 2,300 original illustrations, the film’s paradoxical nature redefines realism as we know it.

Waltz with Bashir depicts Folman’s tumultuous journey as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon war. Opening this spectacular film is the scene of Folman’s old friend sharing a recurring nightmare, believed to be a repercussion of the war experience, where he is pursued by 26 vicious dogs. Curious as to how his own memories of the Lebanon war have been suppressed, the 48-year-old Israeli embarks on a mission to unravel the mysteries of his dark and violent past one step at a time.

Be enticed to lose sight of the subtle realism behind each comic-styled graphic as you surrender your emotions to the raw truth present in the film. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Waltz with Bashir earned international acclaim for its innovative representation of reality.

24 City

Directed by Jia Zhangke | 2008 | 112min | Drama |
In Mandarin with English subtitles | PG

26 Nov (Fri), 8.30pm / 28 Nov (Sun), 1.30pm

Boldly fusing documentary and fiction, Jia Zhangke delves into the lives of individuals who breathed and witnessed the transformation of China through the last half-century. Making its debut in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, 24 City is not just a social commentary that only criticises but reveals the impact of China’s immense change on a more personal note.

Heartfelt factual interviews are interwoven with fictional characters so that it is narrative story-telling at its best—genuine and poignant, yet intriguing, thus touching one’s heart as each story unfolds. Known for his penchant for contemporary realist subject matter, Jia Zhangke couples his message with powerful images allowing this compelling film to express more than words ever could.

Ten

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami | 2002 | 89min | Documentary/Drama |
In Persian with English subtitles | PG

27 Nov (Sat), 1.30pm

Ten, a film presenting a series of ten conversations, shows a woman on a journey for answers as she drives around the city of Iran, picking up and chatting with various passengers. The simplicity of this film is laced with thematic complexity as the entire film toggles between the multiple tiers of realism.

The film centers on the conflict between Iranian actress Mania Akbari and her son, who is angry at his mother for divorcing his father. Abbas Kiarostami complicates the boundaries between fiction and reality by casting a real-life mother and son in the film—leaving it difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference between the scripted and improvised dialogues. The setting too proves to be a crucial element as the plot thickens. A symbolic feature for the suppression of women in Iranian’s patriarchal society, the car is alluded to a private domain within a public sphere.

Gimme Shelter

Directed by Albert and David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin | 1970 | 91min | Documentary/Music |
In English | NC16

27 Nov (Sat), 8.30pm

Considered by many to be one of the best rock documentaries ever made, Gimme Shelter immortalises the death of the ‘peace and love’ era by capturing one of the darkest moments in the history of rock and roll. A film that intercuts The Rolling Stones’ live performances with behind-the-scenes footage of the Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour, the film reveals the violence and chaos that plagued the end of the 1960s.

Albert and David Maysles, together with Charlotte Zwerin, captured the fatal stabbing of a fan at the Altamont Free Concert and the corollary of the inadequate planning behind the event. More significantly, the film seems to be reflexive as The Rolling Stones view the entire documentary. Watch the band members as they witness the footage of the tragic Altamont Free Concert and respond to a film that they had a part in making—the result being a film with greater depth, insight and historical significance.

Russian Ark

Directed by Alexander Sokurov | 2002 | 96min | Drama/Fantasy/History |
In Russian with English subtitles | PG

28 Nov (Sun), 4.15pm

After the fourth take and only a day’s worth of shooting, Alexander Sokurov presents to us Russian Ark. The first single-shot and unedited feature length film in cinema history impressed and claimed the Visions Awards at the 2002 Toronto international Film Festival.

Be drawn into a dreamlike state of 96 uncut and uninterrupted minutes—as characters flow through rooms and waltz around the camera and watch 300 years of historical and fictitious characters appear in a single time dimension. Allow the anonymous narrator to guide you through The Winter Palace of Russia together with the two thousand strong casts.

Through the eyes of the camera, Sokurov indeed does present to us an unorthodox way of showcasing reality in film; ironically, the only way reality actually is—unbroken.