Tuesday, October 21, 2008

London Film Festival

The London Film Festival has somehow escaped my radar most years, but this year I've got very excited about it, and spent much of yesterday staring at screens and absorbing "influences" for the workshop in February. I saw an Indonesian film called Under The Tree, which was fascinating in the way it treated lots of themes from the Trilogy - in ways we won't! I've been interested in its director, Garin Nugroho, since Peter commissioned him to make Opera Java for New Crowned Hope. In this new film, he examines motherhood from lots of different angles, against the setting of Bali, with lots of reference to the traditional dance forms and their re-tellings of Hindu myths. Fascinating for me, as I think about the third play, where motherhood is again a central concern. I realise it's actually been central to the first two plays, but I hadn't even noticed it as a "theme".

I'm still mulling over my failure to spot what's in my own work as I watch Atom Egoyan's new film Adoration, and listen to him taking questions. He clearly feels a bit as if this is something he shouldn't be doing: "My view of the film is only one view - it's no more valid than yours - and in any case this is only my view today - I'll have another idea next week..." Too right - if I've only just noticed how central motherhood is to the whole Trilogy!

Adoration is a fascinating film, with Atom returning to his process of scripting his own work as an original story - I much prefer the films he makes in this way to the adaptations of novels. In this film, he deals again with grief and mourning, with cultural dislocation, with adolescence, and with performance and technology. The scenes around internet chat-rooms are amazing. Great to see him for a chat afterwards - we've been friends since we worked together in 1998 (!), but we've not actually met up for four years. He's really excited about the way things have been taking off for Border Crossings recently.

While I think about these films and the Trilogy, I spot a Guardian obituary for Xie Jin, the director of the film version of The Red Detachment of Women. Amazing and wonderful that he should still have been around, making movies, well into the era of Deng Xiaoping and beyond. For all the dismissal, the fact is that the Cultural Revolution was really not that long ago, and its shadow remains very real. I'd like to find a way of emphasising this in the next version of Dis-Orientations, and in Re-Orientations. It's kind of there - but not enough.

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