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The curtains were drawn yesterday to conclude the 18th Singapore International Film Festival (for me at least). In summary, I watched 7 films over 4 days; of which 3 were back to back films. 4 out of 7 films had something to do with being locked up or a cell. None had unnecessary or over kill sex scenes (usually popular during festivals like these) and 2 were based around historical events. I applauded 3 films towards the end and all 7 got me thinking one way or another. In comparison to last year's film choices, I left the festival feeling very satisfied.

Thoughts on each film:
The Ninth Day (Der Neunte Tag) - German
Set during the Nazi era of World War 2, a Catholic Priest (Kremer) in Dachau's concentration camp was released 9 days to attend he's mother's funeral in Luxembourg at the same time interrogated by the Gestapo to convince the bishop to stop their passive resistance to the German army. Based on a true story from the priest's diaries the movie depicted scenes of how the priest community at the camps were treated. It's a story about how strong your faith is. What your believes are in times of war. Who do you place your trust in.

What intrigued me most about the film was the historical silence the Catholic Church displayed during those years under Pope Pius XII. In total over 6 million Jews amongst hundreds of thousands more Serbs, Gypsies and even Germans were exterminated. Pius XII was known as Hitler's Pope. Following upon JPII's reconciliation process between the Church and the Jews, the film got me reading up and thinking why did the Vatican did what they did.

My score - 7/10

Brothers (Brødre) - Denmark
Awfully haunting. Scenes which I will never forget for the rest of my life. What would a military man do be home with his family? This film was truly an emotional roller coaster ride. It surrounds family love, brotherly love and love between man and wife. In a world where one can be blinded by their own desires, a man can be drawn to do something that will change his life forever. Who could ever forget the scene where elder brother Michael (Ulrich Thomsen) wacks to death a POW in exchange for his own life. A man of righteousness turns around to be a victim later saved by his younger brother Jannik (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) who was released from prison recently.

I personally loved the film. It entailed the elements of humanity. In so many ways it reflected reality. And as we left the cinema, it felt so real...

My score - 9/10

Symmetry (Symetria) - Poland
Perhaps I was so shaken up by "Brothers" that the plot twist in Symmetry didn't really surprise me. You would have expected something drastic to come towards the end of the show. Somehow the characters in the dull prison cell set the way to crave the protagonist's path. So a good man turns bad in prison... it was interesting, but my mind was just filled with the scenes of "Brothers".

My score - 6/10

Niceland (Næsland) - Iceland
We had the opportunity to meet the director, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson during the screening. Apparently, he was some Oscar nominated directed for a foreign film. However, the cinema was rather empty. Guess they probably expected a bigger crowd since we were at Prince 1. The film is set is a fictitious location called Niceland. A little surreal, a little strange. It seemed familiar, yet foreign. So the main character Jed, a mentally challenged man; goes in search to find the "Purpose of Life". In doing so, the other characters in the film also takes on the same journey together with the audience. We come to realise that we're not that different after all, not in Niceland or anywhere else.

My score - 7/10

Far Side of the Moon (La Face cachée de la lune) - Canadian
Some films I simply adore. This is one of them. The director, Robert Lepage plays the main lead, Phillippe and also his brother André. In fact I didn't even realise that Phillippe and André were the same person until I read a review on the film! Brothers with totally different characters and lives. The story is about Phillippe who wrote a thesis on Space Travel and Narcissism. I mean that theory alone is strange enough. Add that to his fantasies and queer behaviour, the film was nothing but pure joy and entertainment. The transitional scenes and ideas in representing this stage show to film were truly interesting.

My score 9/10

City of Sadness (Beiqing chengshi) - Taiwan
This film was a treat cause you get to see Tony Leung in 1989! Young, fresh and very handsome. That aside, it was a great piece of Taiwan history of the 2/28 incident during the late 1940s. The film surrounds a family and how each character is affected through the period and hardship. It's a style of director Hou Hsiao-hsien to place the audience in a spectator position; long shots, few cuts and lots of real time scenes. Very unconventional, but allows the mood to sip in.

My scorce 8/10

Flowers of Shanghai (Hai shang hua) - Taiwan
Supposedly a stellar cast of actors and actresses. I missed a good 1/2 of the show due to a over run of the "City of Sadness". So in a state of loss, I tried to figure out the characters - Jade, Crimson, Jasmin, Perl, Emerald and Golden Phoenix etc.
Looking deeper in to the film, you thought you'd be sympathetic of the Flower Girls portrayed in the film, but later finds out that the men are the real victims...

My score 6/10

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