(click here for english version)
by: tin san
i went to the screenings of smff last year. this year, i am a co-worker of smff.
i didn’t know what it was at that time. was it a ‘film festival’ about social movements? or a film festival carried out in the ‘form’ of social movements? in the pamphlet, information of screenings was all over the place. i knew nothing about most of them. it might be because the screenings were free of charge that i eventually attended one of them. it was create something screened at the cultural square of the chinese university. the film started with the point of view of a taiwanese female student, narrating a not-so-successful movement opposing high tertiary tuition fees. there wasn’t enough lighting outdoors. images on the screen were dull and gray. there were moments when the wind flew through and swallowed critical lines in films. all that made up my first impression towards smff – this was a film festival which did not care much about screening quality. the organizers then invited us to stay and have post-screening discussion. i had nothing that i didn’t understand, i had nothing to say though. somebody told how hard it was to apply for a government grant or loan on tuition fee, and grumbled on the career-oriented curriculum. another student shared the hatred of being made reciting everything in high school. i couldn’t remember how it ended up that night, but after that night i went to every screening of smff, whenever i had time.
looking back, my devotion during that period was out of some haunting emotions, rather than being moved by some sort of passion. i would recall once in a while, how’s that girl who opposed high tuition fee now? what’s next for the student who failed to get the grant or loan? was i ‘moved’ in some ways? maybe, but i’m also moved by listening to canton pop songs, just that it turns so quick for the next new song to occupy my mind. there is shocking news every day, villagers in northeastern new territories are to be evicted; in the news of the conflict between palestine and israel, violent strikes of flames hit the greyish-white streets, but then there comes the entertainment news of a celebrity breaking up with partners. those flashes are like fleeting clouds, as if nothing had ever happened.
but there was something different about smff. it is like when you have watched the images in films, listened to fellow audience talking, you would somehow be connected to them and could stand alone no more. the film has ended, the discussion is over, but something stays. i discovered that later all those thoughts left after screenings were actually tied to the forms of practice of smff: outdoor screenings make us consider the actual screening environment as part of the screening experience and in the post-screening discussions. those collective screening experience that we audience have gone through together become a basis of/for communication – to think of participating in the public sphere starting from individual thoughts. those practices which look dull and time-consuming might be necessary, as these practices show a kind of understanding towards arts: it’s a means for communication, not cultural taste.
arts should have let us understand what the world is, how it operates, and more importantly, how we can transcend ourselves through images, to get to know those who are usually omitted, oppressed and marginalized, from another angle: what actually does he care about and would always overlook, and why he could see what he sees – to put it with a touch of literature, it is to see the souls of others. we can only actually see ourselves when we are able to see others. if arts could make us more be empathetic and creative, observant and reflective, and to provide resources for reflections, then arts really is ‘the thing’ to seize for social movements hoping for a better society.
perhaps i should emphasize again, i haven’t thought of all these back then, i just took something to heart. but that lingering concern made me think, made me share with friends, made me stay aware of things happening and made me join the smff this year. it’s definitely not ‘expected’ to write in such personal and intimate style, when the target audience of this preface is the general public. but i believe it would be seriously untrue/dishonest, if we don’t include private parts in this smff, which stresses audience participation all along the way.