Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dharmasena Pathiraja Retrospective: A Rebel with a Cause

In welcoming Mr Dharmasena Pathiraja to Malaysia, KELAB SENI FILEM MALAYSIA is proud to present --

Dharmasena Pathiraja Retrospective: A Rebel with a Cause
Introducing the works of the Sri Lankan filmmaker who initiated a cinema of social engagement

Saturday 5 September 2009

10.30am – One League of Sky (120 mins)
1.30pm – Ponmani (98 mins )
4.00pm – The Wasps are Here (140 mins)
7.00pm – On the Run (100 mins)

Followed by discussion at 8.45pm with Dharmasena Pathiraja, moderated by Hassan Muthalib & Zakir Husain Raju

Venue: HELP University College, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL

Admission by membership: RM60 for 1 year (students RM30); RM40 for 6 mths; RM30 for 4 mths; RM10 per screening or RM20 for the day. Free admission for Alliance Francaise members & HELP students.

Enquiries: 012-2255136

Dharmasena Pathiraja
Dharmasena Pathiraja is a ‘rebel with a cause’ who emerged in the late 1960s intent on creating a new cinema that ‘proposed a counter-discourse to the bourgeois artistic cinema and the formulaic popular cinema of the time’. He is regarded as the leader of the ‘second revolution’ in Sri Lankan filmmaking, the first having been initiated by Lester James Peries in 1956.
Born in 1943, Pathiraja graduated from the University of Ceylon with a degree in Sinhala and Western Classical Culture and later obtained a PhD in Bengali cinema from Monash University.
He learnt the language of cinema from Peries and others, but he also recognized their socio-political limitations in a country which was heading for a period of deep turmoil. He also studied the cinema of radical activists like Jean-Luc Godard, Third Cinema filmmakers like Fernando Solanas and Glauber Rocha, and Asians like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.
In Pathiraja’s films, visual, narrative and ideological motifs intertwine in a complex and fascinating manner. He is a filmmaker who moved away from bourgeois idealism in favour of a socially engaged and critically humanist cinema – a path taken later by a younger generation of directors like Prasanna Vithanage and Asoka Handagama, the leaders of Sri Lanka’s third cinematic revolution.

One League of Sky (Ahas Gauwa; 1974)
Three flatmates frequent the post office to look for job vacancies in the locak gazette. Bandu is lucky when he gets both a job and wins over the beautiful clerk Vijitha. Wije and Gune however struggle to make ends meet. Having befriended some criminals, they turn to smuggling and touting contraband goods for a living. They sink deeper into crime when friendship and family ties become strained.

Ponmani (1977)
Pathiraja’s only film in Tamil is set in the northern city of Jaffna. Ponmani, the youngest daughter of the family, has to wait until the marriage of the middle daughter Saraoia before she can escape her dreary life. An evocative film about land, women, romance and tragedy, Ponmani brings out the texture of life in Jaffna, a bustling commercial hub before the devastation wreaked by the separatist struggle.

The Wasps are Here (Bambaru Avith; 1978)
When the dealer of a fishing village falls ill, his son Victor takes over the business. His eye soon falls on Helen, who responds to his advances, much to the consternation of her suitor Cyril. On the business front, Victor has to contend with Anta. When Cyril is found dead, Anta gathers his cronies and turns the village against Victor. Sri Lanka Presidential Award 1997 for being named one of ten best films in 50 years of Sri Lankan cinema.

On the Run (Para Dige; 1980)
Based on an original short story by Ajith Thilaksena, this film is about a city girl who is pregnant by a repossessor of mortgaged cars. Having left traditional village life behind, the pair have no wish to be tied down and they look for money to pay for an abortion. With only 400 rupees more to go, he attempts to make some quick money by gambling…

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Octavia and the Letters

Monday 14 July 8.00pm
Octavia and the Letters
Marcelo Masagao; Brazil, 2007, 83 min

Octavia, a solitary and eccentric 30-something, lives in Sao Paulo and spends his time collecting newspapers and books which he cuts up to make collages of slogans and words. He deposits these rolled-up pamphlets secretly around the city. During these wanderings he meets bizzarre, almost caricatured people. One day Clara shows up at his door, a young woman in 'flesh and blood.' She is drawn to images and spends her time surrounded by books with reproductions of famous paintings. Their meeting sets off a stream of comings and goings, places and encounters, which in an original and creative way represents people's loneliness and their alienation and obsessions.

Brazilian filmmaker Marcelo Masagao was coordinator of Radio Xilik and worked for various radio and TV stations. He later directed several short films. In 1998 he made his first documentary Nos que aqui estamos por vos esperamos. Octavia and the Letters is his first feature.

Monday 21 July 8.00pm
Anna, Seven Years on the Frontline
Masha Novikova; The Netherlands, 2008, 78 min
Anna Politkovskaya was killed in front of her apartment on 7 October 2006. She was a lone voice of dissent in Russia, criticising Vladimir Putin's actions and meticulously following the Chechen war. Whoever killed her thought they could shut her up forever, yet Politkovskaya's words have survived her tragic death and are paradoxically more powerful than ever. This portrait of contemporary Russia reveals its contradictions and the problems afflicting democracy in the country.

Masha Novikova studied pedagogy at the University of Moscow and taught Russian language and literature. She moved to Holland shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall to work as an executive producer. In Holland she studied screenwriting and directing at the Kunstweb Art School. Since 2000, she has produced and worked as cinematographer on numerous documentaries. She has won the Amnesty International Prize twice at the Pesaro Film Festival: for Three Comrades in 2007 and Anna, Seven Years on the Frontline in 2008 .

Happy viewing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Women and Islam

Kelab Seni Filem presents 3 short films about women and Islam.
Presented by Amir Muhammad

Monday 30 June, 8pm

‘Malaises’ / Uncomfortable

Eléonore Merlin & Anna Salzberg, France, 28 mins, 2007

Aisyah and Oubaïdah, are two Malay women who are seemingly very different from each other, except for their common identity as women as as Muslim. Aisyah is a young emancipated person who enjoys the hectic lifestyle of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Oubaidah, has single handedly raised seven children. She is a delegate of PAS and lives in Kelantan (*then) the only state of Malaysia steered by this political formation.

Both women provide their insights on work, sexuality and their relationships with men. We see in their answers, contradictions that echo and reflect off each other, often raising the burning questions of the challenges, battles for identity and place in a Muslim society in the midst of transition.

An Afternoon with The Hijjabed

Malaysia, Nadia Hamzah and Wan Muhammad Tamlikha, 8 mins/2005

A mockumentary revolving around five different Malaysian women who differ vastly in character, but share one common trait: all of them don the 'tudung' Moslem veil. As they sit over tea one fine afternoon, they ponder on consequences of wearing the veil.
Initially classmates for a production class in Multimedia University, Cyberjaya Malaysia, Wan Muhammad Tamlikha and Nadiah Hamzah started collaborating on creative independent projects since 2004. From music videos they slowly progressed into making films. 'An Afternoon with The Hijjabed' is their second combined effort under on.par pictures, their unofficial filmmaking collective.

Directors' statement: The mockumentary basically exaggerates each of the characters' personalities, bringing them up to manic levels in order to convey certain messages across. It tries to be blatant and blunt about the truth concerning Hijjabed Moslem women, but at the end of it, the audience is left to make their own interpretations.

The Noble Struggle of Amina Wadud

Elli Safari, The Netherlands/USA, 29 mins, 2007

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud shocked the Islamic world by leading a mixed-gender Friday prayer congregation in New York. THE NOBLE STRUGGLE OF AMINA WADUD is a fascinating and powerful portrait of this African-American Muslim woman who soon found herself the subject of much debate and Muslim juristic discourse. In defying 1400 years of Islamic tradition, her action caused global awareness of the struggle for women’s rights within Islam but also brought violence and death threats against her.

Filmmaker Safari follows this women’s rights activist and scholar around the world as she quietly but with utter conviction explains her analysis of Islam in the classroom, at conferences, in her home, and in the hair dresser’s shop. Wadud explains how Islam, with its promise of justice, appeals to the African American community. And she links the struggle for racial justice with the need for gender equality in Islam. Deeply engaging, this film offers rare insights into the powerful connections between Islam, women’s rights, and racial justice.

Venue: HELP University College, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Monday 23 June 8.00pm
John Carney; Ireland, 2006, 85min

A modern day musical set on the strets of Dublin. Featuring Glen Hansard from the Irish band "The Frames". the film tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story.
He lives at home and helps his father repair vacuum cleaners, but he has a dream of becoming a recording star. His girlfriend of many years has just left him and is now living in London. His emotions are reflected in his new songs.
The Czech girl who happens to have a broken vacuum cleaner also has a musical background of playing the piano and writing songs. Their music brings them together and the she begins to help the him realize his dream. They begin to share their music and their feelings for each other. They put together a band with other street players and rent a recording studio for the weekend to record two demos, with the promise of a start to a new and wonderful life.

Academy Award, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Audience Award, Dublin International Film Festival
World Cinema Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival

"...may well be the best music film of our generation" Chicago Tribune.

"The best of the best at Sundance, a gift of a movie that is absolutely worth seeing more than once" Rolling Stone.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Kelab Seni Filem presents a film by Laurent Cantet, winner of this year's Cannes Palme d'Or for his film The Class.

Monday 9 June 8.00pm
Time Out (L'Emploi du Temps)
Laurent Cantet; France, 2001, 128 min

Vincent is a businessman on the move. Seemingly at the top of his game, Vincent speeds between meetings and conferences ... using his cell phone to share the smallest detail of his professional life with his admiring wife, Muriel. What she doesn't know is that Vincent is leading a double life. He was fired from his job and has constructed an elaborate fantasy of employment that has become his full-time occupation. His fictional new job provides "investment opportunities" for his old friends and even his parents. But the web of lies threatens to choke him when the investors start asking about their money. Vincent must now decide which of his lives is most important.

*Don Quixote Award, Venice Film Festival 2001
* FIPRESCI Prize, Viennale 2001
"A masterpiece" New York magazine

"Gorgeous and mysterious...entrancingly beautiful" New York Times

"Truly haunting!" Los Angeles Times

"Extraordinary...all the tension of a thriller" Eye magazine

"A profound, measured portrait of a man driven with no end in sight" Time Out

Laurent Cantet, a graduate of the Paris film school IDHEC, has made several prizewinning short films, a television movie and, in 1999, Human Resources, an auspicious first feature that won him awards at a number of international festivals. The story of a young man who returns to his town as a human-resources manager - and subsequently aids in downsizing the factory at which his father works - Human Resources is one of those rare political films in which human feelings are as crucial to fighting the good fight as ideology. Time Out, a work of expressive formal beauty and intelligence, is yet another exploration of work and alienation, this time through a character who doesn't elicit easy sympathy. In the end, the film's most important revelation isn't what happens but the complexity of the director's own point of view: the struggle to retain one's humanity in the face of radical dehumanization, insists Cantet, isn't the exclusive provenance of the working class; it belongs to us all.

HELP Univ College Theatrette, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL
Admission by membership, available at the door: RM60 1 year (students RM30); RM40 6 mths; RM30 4 mths
Free admission for Alliance Francaise members & HELP students
Enquiries: 012-2255136

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The War on Democracy

America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling' - George W Bush.

But the reality is vastly different.

John Pilger:
"More terrorists are given training and sanctuary in the United States than anywhere on earth. They include mass murderers, torturers, former and future tyrants and assorted international criminals. This is virtually unknown to the American public, thanks to the freest media on earth."

"During my lifetime, America has been constantly waging war against much of humanity: impoverished people mostly, in stricken places."

"In these surreal days, there is one truth. Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in America last week and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else." (referring to 9/11)

Since his early years as a war correspondent in Vietnam, Pilger has been a trenchant critic of western foreign policy.

His views are widely publicised through his writings and documentary films. His polemical style has attracted both praise and criticism. But there is no denying the force and relevancy of his critiques.

Pilger turns his attention to the iniquities of American foreign policy in Latin America in Kelab Seni Filem's screening tonight --

Monday 26 May, 8.00pm

The War on Democracy

John Pilger; UK/Australia, 2007, 94 min

Award-winning journalist John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America's manipualtion of Latin American politics during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary people to free themselves from poverty and racism.

Since the mid 19th century Latin America has been the 'backyard' of the US, a collection of mostly vassal states whose compliant and often brutal regimes have reinforced the 'invisibility'of their majority peoples. The film reveals similar CIA policies to be continuing in Iraq, Iran and the Lebanon. The rise of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, despite ongoing Washington backed efforts to unseat him in spite of his overwhelming mass popularity, is democratic in a way that has been forgotten or abandoned by the west.

* One of the film's great coups is Pilger's interview with Hugo Chavez himself.

Festivals: Cannes 2007; Galway 2007.

HELP Univ College Theatrette, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL
Admission by membership, available at the door: RM60 1 year (students RM30); RM40 6 mths; RM30 4 mths
Free admission for Alliance Francaise members & HELP students
Enquiries: 012-2255136

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Raymond Red Program

Raymond Red Program
Filipino filmmaker and teacher Raymond Red, who is chief judge for the BMW Short Film Awards, will present a special program for Kelab when he comes for the awards presentation.
He will present and discuss with the audience his short film Anino (Shadows), winner of the Cannes Palme d'Or, and a number of short films by his students, on Wed 14 May at HELP Univ College Theatrette, at 8pm.
This event is open to the public, free of charge.

There is no screening on Monday 12 May.