When Pigs Have Wings | Das Schwein Von Gaza

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2011, Sylvain Estibal (Director/Writer), Sasson Gabai (Jafaar), Baya Belal (Fatime), Myriam Tekaia (Yelena)

There are movies that made me thought: I want to write something like that. I want to be a storyteller. I realized it’s not really something about the book being monetarily successful (although I wouldn’t say no to it) but for it’s about always see things positively throughout life. I believe, at the core of our being, no matter how hard the moment seemed to be, there is always a light. With humor.

The story itself is about Jafaar, a poor fisherman living in Gaza. He was quite unlucky with his situation. Only small fishes got caught in his net, his house is used by Israeli patrol, and he owes quite a lot of money. With other fishermans, finding a coffee cup in their net is a huge thing, something you can give your wife as a gift. Even two right flipflops are good. He, on the other hand, caught a pig in his net.

A pig is a big problem because Jafaar, as a moslem, is forbidden to have anything to do with a pig. He can’t even touch it, let alone use it for a meal. Even more problem, the Jews considered it the same. So how could he get rid of a 50 kg pig? Since Jafaar desperately needed money, he tried every possible person who might want to eat “big”. He went to the UN western officer, but the officer didn’t want a living pig either. He tried to kill it, but couldn’t bring himself to do it.

What happened next was some hilarious scenes involving Miss Piggy, Brazilian telenovela, and a corrupted police (separately, of course). There were awkward starts of friendships between an Israeli soldier, Yelena (an Israeli pig breeder – an exception), Jafaar, and Fatime (Jafaar’s wife). And of course, there were some very real issues with the conflict in Gaza, which made the film felt real.

The film, however, decided to tell everything in a positive and humorous light. For me, this is great, but I know it takes an even greater courage to be able to laugh in a quite dire situation.

I love this film. It gives hope. Hope that when people set aside what had been brainwashed in their head, and start seeing the world with love without prejudice, our blood is truly the same. We are humans, after all.

Berlinale 2012 | Kebun Binatang (Postcards from the Zoo)

Last weekend was our Berlinale time. The whole film festival took place on 9-19 February 2012, but the ones we would like to see just happens to be on that last weekend. Ten films (five of them are shorts) in three days, spanning eight countries and six languages. It’s quite a lot to digest, which was why I’m only able to write down my thoughts today.

The one movie I was really looking forward to see is “Kebun Binatang” (Postcards from the Zoo). It’s the first Indonesian movie to compete for the Berlinale award, and it made me feel somewhat proud of being Indonesian (even though I had nothing to do with the movie :D).

Postcards from the Zoo

Postcards from the Zoo

Postcards from the Zoo tells a story about Lana (Ladya Cheryl), a young woman who spent almost all of her life in the zoo. Her father left her there when she was four, and then she was adopted by it*. The story fast forwards to the adult Lana, who becomes one with the zoo and dreams of touching the giraffe’s belly someday. She is so in tune with the animals, being friends with all the workers there, and just sort of everything doer. One day, Lana starts seeing this young cowboy (Nicolas Saputra) in the zoo.  She wonders if he was even real at all. But as her zoo life starts falling apart, she decides to go out of the zoo and follow him instead. Where would she end up? Would she be able to fulfill her dream?

*** Warning! The review may contain SPOILERS ***

This film is all about metaphors and it’s one of those that gave me a “The Emperor’s New Clothes” effect. I don’t think I get all of the metaphors, but I kept thinking whether it was just my limited imaginations, should I try harder? Or maybe I could just pretend I understand everything?

Well, I’m going to be honest, and I will tell you my thoughts about it. Whether I might or might not truly get the movie.

The good points are I appreciate its breaking out of the common norm in Indonesian movies. It’s quite bizarre in its storytelling and honest in some other parts (not trying to teach you some moral grounds or being politically correct or anything like that).

I also quite like the use of metaphors in Lana’s life as the stages of animals in the zoo: captivity, reintroducing to the natural habitat, and so on. It gives you the whole general view about what the story is all about. Lana was just like an animal there, being in captivity all of her life, she might just lose her ability to be a free person.

What I’m confused about is the many shots of the zoo. When things are told in metaphors, shouldn’t everything have a meaning? Or would it be okay for some to not make sense? I could only understand the connection with the giraffe. The tiger and hippos kind of confused me… there is some connection but it felt forced, not as well thought as the others. The rollercoaster and other attractions just seemed too random… and even though it does give some sense of ambience, I found that it felt like it’s weighing the story down.

Lana’s character is also come across as very detached. I couldn’t feel any emotional connection with her, not sympathizing with her. She seemed to be narrating her own story from the outside. Not that it’s a bad thing, it just feels weird. I’m actually hoping this is intentional, because I found Ladya Cheryl portrayed this part very well.

I felt rather disappointed with the ending, because even though it does answer some questions, it doesn’t resolve things. Although to the film’s defense, it’s a festival film, which means this kind of alternative ending is quite common.

All in all, the film gave me a strange feeling of curious confusion. Did Luna really experience all this? Were she just living a sad life and trying to escape in her imagination?

Verdict: Is it worth watching? YES. But keep an open mind. If you have a different point of view after watching this, or if you think I’m missing something, please feel free to leave a comment or contradict me.

* Yes, I meant the zoo. Everything in it, including the people, animals, and attractions.

 

My Movie List for the 61st Berlinale Film Festival 2011

I can’t believe it’s almost that time of the year again, where I will be queuing half a day long to get a couple of tickets for the movie I want to see. Rest assured, it’s worth it!

Alright, a little introduction: Berlinale Film Festival is a yearly event held in Berlin on February. In 2011, the date would from February 10 to February 20. The Berlinale website claimed there are around 400 films shown every year during this festival. Almost all the major theater and cinemas in Berlin are participating and in these two weeks, the city is buzzing with film industry people, some famous actors/actresses, and movie goers (me!). It was really fun to be a part of it and it was also a good distraction from all this winter greyness.

Since a person couldn’t possibly be in so many places at the same, and I suspect watching 400 movies in two weeks would actually kill the brain, the hardest first task is to choose which movie I would like to see. Every year, I noticed the Berlinale website is making improvements, making it slightly easier for navigating through the movie list. Now I just hope next year there’ll be one search based on genre… comedy, happy endings, non suicidals? Because to be honest, depressing movies are the last thing I wanted to watch during this time of year. Well, mostly on any time of the year, actually. Last year I watched a short film starring a guy who is preparing for his suicide in the woods. *shivers*.

Well, moving on, I usually try to see movies that I wouldn’t have the chance on seeing in a normal, every day cinema. In this category are short movies, foreign movies, or classical movies that are just not in theater anymore. I would go through the competition list, and see if any of it interest me.

This year, my list consist of:

  • Une vie de chat (A Cat in Paris), an animated French mystery movie for children about cat and Paris. “During the day, Dino the cat brings lizards into little Zoé’s room. At night the predator has another hobby – accompanying the elegant burglar Nico. There is a lot of traffic on the rooftops of Paris. As long as one does not lose one’s balance.”
  • Gianni e le donne (The Salt of Life), an Italian comedy movie. “A henpecked pensioner decides to rejuvenate his love life by finding himself a girlfriend – a move made apparently by all Italian men of his age. Except that his peers seem to have more success …”
  • Les contes de la nuit (Tales of the Night), an animated French movie competing for the Berlinale award. “Every night a boy, a girl and a woman meet in a magical cinema where they enter the land of their dreams. A combination of traditional silhouette animation and 3D technology.”
  • Knerten gifter seg (Twigson Ties the Knot), a Norwegian children movie, sequel to the Knerten movie I saw last year. So excited about this! “Lillebror is back. This time in a mysterious detective story. Helping him are Twigson, the liveliest tree branch in all of Norway, and the adorable birch girl.”
  • Mein Bester Feind (My Best Enemy), a Austrian/Luxemburg movie sets in the 30s. “Vienna in the 1930s. Victor is the son of a Jewish gallery owner. After the annexation of Austria by the Nazis his friend Rudi climbs the ranks and betrays Victor. Fate brings the two friends together again during the war.”
  • Jag är rund (I am round), a short animated Swedish film for children. “In a square world you have to have corners if you want to fit in.”
  • Kuchao (A Gum Boy), a short animated Japanese film for children. “Chew gum, blow bubbles and take off.”
  • Aterfödelsen (The Unliving), a short Swedish film. “Life on earth, thirty years after a zombie outbreak.”
  • Sju dagar i skogen (Seven Days in the Woods), a short Swedish film. “Trees alongside the road, everything was blurry.”

Note: Description was taken from the Berlinale website.

So, there it is! If you’re in Berlin and you intend to see one of the movies, do share which one(s) your interested in.

Berlinale Movies I'd Love to See

It was quite a daunting task to go through the list of movies as there are over 300 of them. But I wanted to go through each one of their description, trying to make sure I wouldn’t miss anything I’d love to see.

This year I wanted to see uplifting movies, something that would inspire me or take me to a world of imagination. So it wasn’t very surprising that most of the movies I end up putting on my list were from the Generation section, which was more geared towards younger movie goers.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

  • Knerten (Twigson). From the synopsis: “Strong? Yes. Brave? Yes. A twig? Yes. Ordinary? No! Because twigs like Twigson don’t grow on trees.Twigs like Twigson exists in fantasies and play with you in the woods when you find it hard to be with everyone else.” I’m sold.
  • How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?. I’m somehow always fascinated towards architecture. I love looking at buildings, imagining what was in the mind of the architect when they came up with the idea. Norman Foster designed the dome of Reichstag in Berlin. I would love to know him and his work better.
  • En ganske snill mann (A Somewhat Gentle Man). It’s hard to say exactly why I’d love to see this one. But I guess I like the black comedy, and the contrast of an ex con trying to be a good person.
  • My Name Is Khan. This one has quite a buzz already. I know Shah Rukh Khan (the leading actor) from his Bollywood movies, so I guess I’m interested to see him on the screen playing someone with an Asperger syndrome.

I also wanted to see the short films section since it would be quite hard to see them in cinemas otherwise. Will update this section soon!

My Two Cents on Avatar

Avatar is… boring after the 3D honeymoon phase (and that happened quite fast for me). I kinda wished I could just fall asleep but just couldn’t after remembering the Euros I spend for the ticket :P.

I wished they make more effort with the story… but wait… Avatar is being nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama for Golden Globe. Seriously? Drama?

Is there something wrong with me?

I thought it’s a good… okay, great technical-artistic movie. But I was too distracted with the predictable story. I like to guess what happen with the characters since the beginning of the movie, and I love it when the movie surprised me with twists. This one surprised me from all my guess was right (and that actually kinda not cool).

But yeah, they got a 8.7 score on IMDB, and 2nd worldwide highest-grossing movie (James Cameron, you do have a awesome feel for making such movie). So perhaps I was just a tiny dot in the population who somewhat regrets going to see it…

Just one last word of note, if you watch it, go in 3D. That’s the only way to see this movie ;).