“An Evening of Cinema”
- Date(s): Wednesday, October 25th 2006
- Time: 6:30 p.m.
- Location: Niobrara County Library
“Be With Me”
a film by Eric Khoo
Be With Me is a tapestry of three stories woven around the themes of love, hope, and destiny. Although the main characters come from different backgrounds and lead different lives, they all long to be with their loved one.
“Meant To Be” is about an aging provision shopkeeper grappling with loneliness. Just when he is about to give up hope, he chances upon an autobiography which changes his life. The autobiography in this story is real – it is the story of Theresa Chan, who plays herself and shares her remarkable life experience in the film.
“So In Love” is the bitter-sweet chronicles of two teenage girls in a love less ordinary. A chain of events spark off a flurry of SMS messages that will drastically rewrite the blueprints of their lives.
“Finding Love” follows the mundane life of a middle aged security guard who has two loves in life — food and a high flying professional who works in the same building he does. The first he indulges in with great passion; the second, alas, he can only admire from afar. He decides to bridge the divide with a letter.
Unbeknownst to them, these different souls will share the same stage in a play written by Fate, one which involves the themes of love, tragedy, and redemption. The characters in the movie are fictitious except for Theresa Chan. Deaf and blind since she was 14, Theresa – who is now 61 – is a remarkable woman who has triumphed over her disabilities to live an amazing life. She is the film’s beacon, a symbol of strength and hope.
Winner, Best Director Torino Film Festival – Singapore, 93 minutes – English, Cantonese, Hokkien, Mandarin with English subtitles.
Manohla Dargis/ The New York Times
A.O. Scott and MANOHLA DARGIS kept a diary about their experience at Cannes. Manohla Dargis wrote the following entry:
Meanwhile, I went to my first screening at the Directors Fortnight, one of the two unofficial programs here. Despite the near-lack of air conditioning, the ringing cell phones and the two biddies in front of me who pawed through their plastic bags throughout the screening (I kicked one of their chairs a couple of times, but apparently not hard enough), I fell for the Fortnight’s opening film, Be With Me. It’s from a Singaporean, Eric Khoo, and interweaves the true story of a deaf-mute woman with tales of thwarted love. I didn’t have any idea what was going on for the first half hour, but was in tears by the end, which is fairly rare (big surprise).
Michael Wilmington/ Chicago Tribune
Theresa Chan is a 61-year-old Asian woman who has been blind since 14 and deaf since 12. She’s also the main harbinger of hope in “Be With Me,” a delicately crafted, gently inflected, lovely little movie about the need for love, directed and co-written by Singapore’s Eric Khoo (“Mee Pok Man”).
Singapore has a tiny film industry, and Khoo is definitely its star filmmaker. He works in the minimal, exquisite vein of Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang, and if he’s not on their artistic level, he’s not far below it. Two of his three films played at the Cannes Film Festival, and “Be With Me” was a critical hit there last year.
It deserved to be. Khoo interweaves three stories. Two of them are fictional studies of unrequited love and despair, focusing respectively on two teenage lesbian lovers, Sam (Samantha Tan) and Jackie (Ezann Lee), and on a plump security guard, Fatty (Seet Keng Yew), who is infatuated with a career woman.
The third tale involves the real-life Chan, who might seem to have every reason for suffering along with the others; in addition to her deafness and blindness, her one great love died of cancer before they could be wed. But she chooses instead to be optimistic, giving, hopeful. Love, she conclusively proves, can be more blessedly given than received.
Khoo uses very little dialogue, letting his largely nonprofessional cast communicate instead through quiet looks, sparse talk, cell phone text massages and typewritten messages (by Chan). The quietness of “Be With Me” — and its extreme tenderness and vulnerability — are unusual qualities in contemporary cinema. Yet Khoo, in only his third film, already seems a master of this finely honed Bressonian style.
The center of the film, and the reason for much of its power, is Chan, a chunky energetic woman who speaks in a loud, lively, very expressive voice that she herself can’t hear. Few people, real or fictional, in recent cinema convey such a sense of wholehearted connection to life. Inspiringly, she demonstrates unselfish love — even as the rest of the film shows us the consequences of more self-centered kinds.
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