Berlinale 2009

FIRST, PARIS

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After Clermont, I spent a night in Paris in the wonderful company of Wiwi, xd’s friend who is based there.

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Wiwi got up very early next morning to drive me to the airport. It was so kind of her. I can’t wait to be back in Paris.. for that residency, perhaps! =)

BERLIN

Tanjong Rhu premiered at the Kino International on the evening I arrived in Berlin. It was the largest theatre in East Berlin before the wall came down. The size of the screen itself was just breathtaking. Check out the golden curtains.

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Tanjong Rhu was screened before End Of Love, a film from Hong Kong by Simon Chung. The presenter was considerate to have my Q&A in between our films so that the audience could have a more immediate reaction.

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Mathias, from the Berlin Asian Hotshots Film Festival, and Michael Kam, who was in Berlin for the Talent Campus, came to support. After the screening, we went for dinner at a traditional German restaurant. I was so used to the French portions by that time and wasn’t ready for the monster that was plonked in front of me.

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I don’t usually take pictures of my food. But this thing was the size of my head! It was such an endless hunk of flesh I threw in my towel (literally, my napkin) two-thirds into it.

More photos..

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Lasalle printed a lot of postcards and press kits and my job was to leave them lying everywhere. They disappeared very quickly.

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The film ‘properly’ premiered at an even larger venue – the Zoo Palast – on the evening of Feb 13. Wieland Speck, the director of the Panorama, presented the films. Here’s me with Wieland and Simon outside the screening.

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Leon made a special stopover in Berlin, just in time for the premiere. That night I was given a car and we were chauffeured around.. so glam lor. The final stop was at the Teddy Awards.

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Tanjong Rhu was nominated for a Teddy Award! It was such a lovely surprise when the excerpts came up on screen. I tried to reach for my camera but it was too late. So nice.. it was one of three nominees, so I guess it would count as one of the top 3 queer shorts! heh.

After that, we stayed on for the Teddy Party, which was touted as the hottest party of the entire Berlinale. A LOT of drag acts and lesbian rock..

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Next day was Valentine’s Day and xd flew in! It was a last min arrangement. I tried to book a table at that German restaurant with the massive meat, but it was already fully booked. In the end we decided to go to attend the awards and closing ceremony at the Berlinale Palast.

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Next day, we attended the final screening of Tanjong Rhu together. This time, it was shown together with all the other Teddy Shorts. In my opinion, it was the best audience of the festival. Made up mostly of gay people, the audience was a lot more responsive and very generous with applause.

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The best films I managed to see at the festival were documentaries. One of which is The Times of Harvey Milk, a doco that won the Oscar in 1984. It was shown to celebrate the 30th year of the Panorama section, as well as to coincide with the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Milk. It was especially poignant having already seen Milk and knowing Harvey Milk as a character.

The other doco that was very powerful was City of Borders, about gay and lesbian people living in Jerusalem. I managed to speak briefly to the filmmaker Yun Suh after the screening, hoping to somehow bring her film to Singapore. The film won the ELSE Siegessäule Reader’s Choice Award at the Teddy Awards. Congrats to Yun Suh!

Yes.. a lot of gay films. Berlin is probably the best place to see them.

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