Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pictures from Vancouver International Film Festival

As promised, here are the few pictures I managed to snap of people met in the festival, in between bouts of lying in my hotel room suffering from intestinal flu.

From left to right: fellow Dragons & Tigers jurist Ikeda Hiroyuki; yours truly; Eighteen director Jang Kun-Jae and his lead actor Lee Min-Ji. Can't remember what the circumstances were, but this was probably immediately after the film's screening. Yes, I suppose Lee looked cute in his breezy gray scarf and beribboned hat, but I thought I stunned with my black-and-white latticed shirt.

From left to right: Mr. Ikeda, Dragons & Tigers programmer Tony Rayns; fellow juror Johnny Ray Huston; and yours truly. Don't believe this pic for a moment; we finished deliberations, decided we had a few minutes to kill, and posed for this photo, apparently not very well--Mr. Ikeda and I pretended (feebly) to still be debating, Tony and Johnny thought we should be grinning like idiots at the camera. The lesson? Never snap a pic without an auteur in charge.

Kristin Thompson and I, our first meeting. I'd first met Kristin's husband David Bordwell in the Hong Kong International Film Festival, after which I wrote about his book Planet Hong Kong. I'd stopped going to Hong Kong years ago (nada dinero); when I met David again this year we hadn't seen each other for about, oh, ten years.

It was a keen pleasure meeting him again, and I wished we could have talked more, and I wished we could have spent more time together and I wished I'd have been able to say more to Kristin than "hi!" (I'd been reading her on their blog for years) but they had their own list of films to catch and I had my films to judge. We did manage to snap pictures together with my camera, four total, every one of which was hopelessly blurred. Fortunately, Bordwell's digital camera worked fine, and he emailed me this (unfortunately we couldn't get one of David and I, or the three of us together). Them's the breaks, I suppose. I suppose I should also get a digital camera, but--nada dinero.

Bakal Boys director Ralston Jover with my arm wrapped proprietarily round his shoulders. He had just signed his soul away to me.

Actually, that's his Special Mention certificate I'm holding. Very nice guy. Almost wasn't there for the award--after the screening he disappeared for the rest of the week. On awards night he had the festival staff running and radioing everywhere, trying to find him. Turned out he was sitting in his hotel room, wondering what time the ceremony started.

From left to right: yours truly in between actress Seo Jun-Yeong and actor Lee Min-Ji (doesn't he ever take off that hat?), the appealingly young lovers in Jang Kun-Jae's Eighteen.

It was right after the awards ceremony. The pair were high on the fact that our jury had given their film the Dragons & Tigers award; the photographers swarmed around them, snapping away. I walked up to her, held out my hand, palm up, and said "payment."

She looked puzzled. "What?"

"Payment," I said. "For the award."

She looked as if she didn't understand. Or rather, that she was starting to understand, but wished she didn't. Then I held up my camera. "Pictures." She started laughing.

I know, I know. But I just couldn't resist.

And if you think I'm going to resist having a solo picture taken with her, you just don't know me.

This was the Cook It Yourself Noodle Party at the lovely Eunhee's gorgeous penthouse apartment. Turns out Nguyen Doy Khoa, the lead actor of Bui Thac Chuyen's beautiful Adrift, is also a skilled pianist. All that was needed, really, was Eunhee in a slinky red dress, cavorting atop her piano and singing Makin' Whoopee, but would she oblige me? Not on your life.

Tony Rayns. Haven't the slightest idea why his expression's so sour--James Cameron's Avatar was still months away.

Dragons & Tigers programmer Shelley Kraicer, in a supplicant's pose. Don't remember why he was on his knees that time--proposing, perhaps? But what about that beer bottle he's sipping? Whatever the reason, it must have been one compelling reason...

And this was my last day at the festival, when I was determined not to sleep till it was time to board my plane.

The all-night drinking session eventually turned into an informal seminar on life, films and film festivals with, among others, Sato Fumiro, director of Denoted (left, I think (I could be mistaken)) and Mariko Tetsuya, director of The Yellow Kid (right). Tetsuya was a regular interrogator, asking me my opinion of this film or that, this filmmaker or that. He had a fierce curiosity about almost everything, and I ended up talking almost the entire night.

At one point--I don't know exactly what time, only that it was almost dawn--we ended up wondering what happens after the festival is over. "We go home," I opined, "and we keep some kind of contact. We might never meet again, not face-to-face, but we send email, message each other on Facebook, and so on.

"It's a strange community we have. We see each other for a few days, we go back to our homes thousands of miles away, we don't see each other for months, maybe years. Yet when we get back together, it's as if we've never been apart. Sometimes we pick up arguments as if we'd just parted only yesterday.

"It's as if we already partly know each other--we love films, we love filmmaking, and that's half the job of becoming friends done. The rest is just filling in the details.

"If I have any advice to give you, it's this: meet, talk, get to know each other fast as possible, cherish each other as much as possible because--well, you never know. I had a friend--Alex Tioseco, a film critic--and the last time I saw him was 2003. We kept in contact--I wrote several articles for him, and just a month ago we emailed each other about my discovering the films of David Gordon Green.

"And then he died. Shot in his own home. That was my last conversation with him--a series of email messages about David Gordon Green. Which was sad yet appropriate too, in a way--we were doing what we loved best, talking about films and filmmakers, giving each other a head's up on something exciting and new (new at least for me). Worse ways to spend one's last moments together, I suppose.

"So here's to you, and you, and you, and you, and if I may say one thing more, a quote: 'If we do meet again, why, we shall smile; if not, why then, this parting was well made.'"

Funniest thing of all, I remember sipping maybe three, four glasses of, I don't know, whiskey or sake or something all through the night, but when I left I was stone cold sober. Even my intestinal flu felt fine--no cramps, no nausea, nothing. I was, for all intents and purposes, cured. Happens.


Northern Portrait said...

This is probably your best post yet. Hehe. Enjoyed it. But no encounters as in Sang-soo Hong's Like You Know it All? You must be reserving them for your memoirs.

Noel Vera said...

What, with a best friend's wife or former love? Not in Vancouver.

Dominic K. Laeno said...

I only recognized a couple of people in this post...

(in particular, mainly Rayns because of his appearance on Criterion Collections DVD; he seems like a cool guy)

I need to get around the film critique circuit more...

john marzan said...

Noel, have you ever thought about dyeing your beard?

Noel Vera said...

I'm of two feelings about being in the outskirts of the circuit--one, it's a thrill to belong to the community, they're wonderful people. Two, I can't help but remember that in the bigger scheme of things, critics are bottom-feeders--we pronounce judgment over the product of others.

Of course that judgment is in itself product, with artistic merits and demerits, if you want to see it that way. Sometimes I see it one way, sometimes another.

john--not really. Can't see myself dealing with hair dye.

dodo dayao said...

"Of course that judgment is in itself product, with artistic merits and demerits, if you want to see it that way."

Could not agree with this more, Noel.

Loved this post,incidentally.

Noel Vera said...

Thanks, dodo!