While issues on the fatwah on Yoga, Michael Jackson’s conversion to Islam and the never ending ongoing drama in the local politics became the talk of the town, I indulged in something quieter in the form of the European Union Film Festival. It happens every year here and last year’s was also around this period of time. But we were moving house at this time last year so we caught only one film. This year, I caught 3.
The first one I went to was One Day In Europe, a hilarious comedy film circa the Champions League Finals held in Moscow, and how the different Europeans cope with their differences in their languages, and where English can’t get one anywhere amongst the villagers and townsmen, let alone bargaining a police report in the different police stations from Moscow to Istanbul to Berlin and finally to Spain.
The film was in Russian, Turkish, German and Spanish and a little bit of English by a disgruntled Londoner. It’s hilarious to see that assumptions and stereotypes are universal attributes that everyone has about the other ‘different’ racial groups. One scene when the German lad wanted to get his point across that his backpack was stolen to the Turkish policeman, after a whole hour of ‘ayam-itik’ frustrating exchange, the policeman shouted, in Turkish ‘ I ONLY Know some German!!! Ja ! Ja ! Kaputt ! Kaputt ! Hitler ! Hitler !’ we had a good laugh about it. In the end, the film showed that against all odds and all cultural and language barrier, Europeans have at least one thing in common i.e Football. And their common language is Goal!
One day in Europe pic taken from here.
The next one is a really a beautiful film, Mozart In China in German and Mandarin. It tells the story about the friendship about 2 boys, a Chinese and an Austrian made in the hospital where they were warded in Salzburg. The Chinese boy, Li Wei whose family hailed from Hainan island in China invited Danny, the Austrian boy to spend summer holidays in his grandfather’s village in Hainan. Danny reluctantly accepted and although he was very wary of all the stereotypes and assumptions that people have of him as a white foreigner, he discovered himself and the beauty of knowing what is beyond one’s shores. In one scene, when they first arrived, Li Wei’s gang of village boys went to smell Danny’s armpit, just to see whether the stereotype of all white people stink true. Danny was furious and confronted Li Wei about it and Li Wei shot back with a ‘so you think it was easy for me in Salzburg with people calling me slant eyes’ talk.
Image of Mozart in China taken from here.
The film was also interesting for me because while the German dialogue has subtitles, the Mandarin dialogue didn’t. Hence I surprised myself at how much Mandarin I can still understand, although I have been away from that environment for some years already. And I tried not to read the subtitles to the German dialogue, to see if I have improved in that language. Not doing good, I must add. Oh well, like they say in Chinese, man man lai.. or pelan pelan kayuh…
The last film, was set in Luxemborg is about a handsome young train controller Georges, meeting Yamina in the train from Luxembourg City to Bettembourg. She is Algerian-French she was just like any other passenger whose ticket needed to be inspected. The next day, she’s on board again, but this time on the run from mysterious assailants. Yamina refuses to go to the police, so Georges kindly offers her a hiding place in his holiday cabin. As she shares her story, his compassion grows into fascination, friendship and maybe even love.
Arabian Nights pic taken from here.
This week is the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival. I have missed a large part of it although it only began on Monday if I’m not mistaken. Down with the (annual) year end flu and have been just rotting at home on the couch with Grey’s Anatomy and Gilmore Girls and a box of tissue paper.