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OctDec 2012

Cinmathque Quarterly

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I could not sleep, I saw the lights, I kept staring at the lights till morning

Zubir Said, on the glimmering

city of Singapore which he

first saw when arriving on a

cargo boat in 1928

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Contents

Editors Note

World Cinema SeriesO Drakos / The Fiend of Athens by Nikos KoundourosLes Enfants du Paradis / Children of Paradise by Marcel Carn

MAJULAH! The Film Music of Zubir Said

Perspectives Film Festival

Writings on CinemaDocumenting Affect: Yangtze Scribbler, Jalan Jati and All the Lines Flow Out by Ho Rui An Addendum: The Quiet Man Continues by Noel Vera

Interview Yusnor Ef

Word on the Ground When the Nusantara Rockedby Bobby Dread

Write to Us

Credits

About Us

Ticketing Information

Getting to the Museum

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Editor's Note

Though this quarter features a mlange of both European and Asian films some restored, some rediscovered the overarching focus is on the Nusantara, an old Javanese term coined over seven hundred years ago to encapsulate what we know today as Indonesia.

From the 10th to 20th of October, well be celebrating the film music of cultural icon Zubir Said, the man best known in Singapore (at least, by those who dont remember the Golden Age of Malay cinema) as the composer of Singapores national anthem. The programme pays kudos to Saids classical, poetically inclined compositional style through the films for which he wrote the score.

Originally from the Minangkabau highlands of Indonesia, Zubir nevertheless became a Singapore fixture. That seemingly small fact characterised the rich film and music industry of the 1940s1960s. Nusantara which originally defined the Indonesian islands came to define the Malay Archipelago as a whole. Those who used it meant it to include Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and in some instances, even the Philippines.

In our interview section this issue, we speak to yet another legend, Yusnor Ef, a teacher, lyricist, composer, producer and film historian who has written well over 250 songs for countless popular Malay singers. Cikgu Yusnor tells us why Singapore was the centre of the arts industry in the 1960s and how the fluid political and cultural boundaries created a collaborative artistic community.

Cikgu Yusnors remarks on the complexity and diversity inherent in Malay music are echoed by long-time musician Bobby Dread, who writes about growing up listening to Radio 2 (a Malay radio station, now called Warna) and discovering the eclectic Malay Nusantara bands of the 1980s.

In our essays section, veteran Filipino film critic Noel Vera mourns the passing of legendary Filipino filmmaker Mario OHara in late June this year, but avoids eulogising. Instead, he re-visits an essay he wrote a decade ago, re-works

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his thoughts and tells us why OHaras contributions as a scriptwriter, theatre director and filmmaker were integral to the nations filmic landscape.

Writer Ho Rui An turns his attention to three films shown at this years Singapore Short Cuts: Yangtze Scribbler (Tan Pin Pin, 2012), All the Lines Flow Out (Charles Lim, 2011) and Jalan Jati (Lucy Davis, 2012). Reading them with a Deleuzian eye, he invites the reader to consider affect, which can be felt, but is not an emotion.

For the World Cinema Series, we feature Marcel Carns Les Enfants du Paradis / Children of Paradise (1945), that roving portrait of 19th century Paris, shot in a country occupied at the time by the Nazis. Audiences will enjoy a version that has been beautifully restored by Path and the Jrme Seydoux-Path Foundation.

The well-known classic is joined by an obscure 1956 film by Greek director Nikos Koundouros called O Drakos / The Fiend of Athens. Interest in the film spiked when writer Jonathan Franzen devoted sections of his novel Freedom to describing it through two characters who debate what the film means. Prints of O Drakos with English subtitles were, until recently, unavailable. Thankfully, audiences curious about Koundourous work (at one time, called the Orson Welles of Greece) can watch the film on the big screen.

A positive highlight for the quarter is the Singapore Film Festival (1st3rd October) that will take place in Delhi, India. The Cinmathque was invited for the second time this year to put together a short programme featuring works by Singaporean filmmakers (the first was from 1220th May, for the Sintok Film Festival in Tokyo). Organised by the Singapore High Commission in Delhi, the programme is the first of its kind in the Indian city and will feature Sandcastle by Boo Junfeng, 881 by Royston Tan, Red Dragonflies by Liao Jiekai and Singapore GaGa by Tan Pin Pin. If it is a sign of things to come, perhaps Singaporean films will start travelling to other shores outside of the film festival circuit, thereby reaching a wider audience in the long-run.

Vinita Ramani MohanEditorCinmathque Quarterly

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13 November, 6 December / 7.30 pm

Gallery Theatre, Basement$9 / $7.40 ConcessionPrices inclusive of SISTIC fee A programme of the National Museum Cinmathque

World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs across the world, from renowned classics to neglected masterpieces. Witness the wonders, possibilities, textures as well as the revelatory moments that have contributed to the rich history of cinema. Take a leap of faith and discover the art of cinema that continues to affect and inspire us on the big screen as it was meant to be seen with the World Cinema Series, shown every second Tuesday of the month at the National Museum of Singapore.

WorldCinemaSeries

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World Cinema Series

Tuesday, 13 November, 7.30 pm

O Drakos / The Fiend of Athens

Director Nikos Koundouros1956 / Greece / 103 min / 35mm / Ratings TBCIn Greek with English subtitles

Image courtesy of Alkisti Athanasopoulou

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World Cinema Series

O Drakos, an obscure Greek film from 1956 recently re-surfaced in Jonathan Franzens Freedom, a novel that went on to become an instant bestseller and received glowing reviews from literary critics worldwide. The film follows a timid little man, working as a clerk, alone and disillusioned on New Years Eve. On his way home, he realises he possesses an uncanny resemblance to a renowned serial killer whose photograph has just been published in the newspaper. The word drakos (monster or dragon) is the Greek term for serial killers or rapists. He soon finds himself running away, as everyone he knows including the police mistake him for the Monster. A gang of awestruck crooks rescues him from imminent arrest and forces him to take charge of a desperate criminal scheme they have got going. The poor man becomes enamoured of the idea and decides for once in his sad life to be a tough guy and a hero. He surrenders to his bizarre destiny: to be The Fiend of Athens.

An immediate feature of O Drakos is the violent contrasts between light and darkness. A primordial conflict permeates the film with an atmosphere of disillusionment and a sense of foreboding. This is derived as much from the characters depicted as the cinematographers art. In essence, this distinctive feature is a significant characteristic of the sub-genre film noir which is founded on the principle of contrastive lighting and highly stylised visuals and narratives. A femme fatale, another primary film noir characteristic, inhabits O Drakos shadowy world. As a sub-genre of the crime and thriller movie, film noir had reached its maturity the year before with the release of Robert Aldrichs Kiss Me Deadly (1955). From 1956, film noir became a recognised genre. Many films that were subsequently considered film noir masterpieces were released, including Alfred Hitchcocks similar themed The Wrong Man, Fritz Langs Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and While the City Sleeps, and Stanley Kubricks The Killing.

While O Drakos shares many visual and thematic preoccupations with the so-called film noir genre, director Nikos Koundouros went beyond the genre conventions in often startling ways. The all-consuming film noir aesthetic is strikingly juxtaposed with that of a cinematic realism - neo-realism, the kind perfected by the post-war Italian filmmaker