Short film Riau (2003) will be screened as a double bill screening with Bontoc Eulogy (1995)
Director: Zai Kuning
Runtime: 30 minutes
Country: Singapore, Indonesia
Language: Malay with English subtitles
Screening courtesy of Singapore Art Museum Collection
Riau documents Zai Kuning’s period of stay with the Orang Laut (sea gypsies) in a nomadic fishing village around the Riau islands, which are situated between Singapore and Indonesia. The film chronicles the history of this slowly disappearing people, as well as Kuning’s attempt to define himself, as a Malay Singaporean, in relation to their culture. Through a delicate interweaving of direct visual impressions of the people’s daily life with Kuning’s own anecdotal reflections, a dislocated history is intimated. As he advances closer towards his subject, rather than discovering a harmony grounded on their common Malay heritage, Kuning finds instead the painful possibility of irreconcilability.
Bontoc Eulogy (1995)
Director: Marlon Fuentes
Runtime: 56 minutes
Country: Philippines, USA
San Francisco International Film Festival 1996
Ann Arbor Film Festival 1996
A unique fusion of rare archival images and carefully orchestrated “reenactments,” Marlon Fuentes’ Bontoc Eulogy centers on the experiences of the 1,102 Filipinos who were brought to America to be displayed as live exhibits at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The film is presented as Fuentes’ personal inquiry into his Bontoc grandfather Markod’s participation at the Fair―except Markod never really existed. This faux documentary oscillates between historical memory and cinematic imagination, so as to foreground the conflicts that arise between subject, artist and audience in the act of narrating and documenting history.