By Hong Wan Jing (22S06F) and Sonia Maya (22A01C)
Hodge Lodge photos courtesy of Ms Joanna Ng
Screening logo designed by Audrey Goh (22S07A) and Chere Low (22A01C)
“Whoa, there was a theatre behind Hodge Lodge this whole time?” These were the exact words of Edna Lim (22S03F), taking her first steps into the Hodge Lodge theatre.
On a quiet afternoon of 4th May, a gap Wednesday, Rafflesians streamed into a relatively unassuming room beyond the main lounge area of the Hodge Lodge. H(ODD)GE L(ODD)GE marked the event’s revival after a COVID-19 induced hiatus. The (bi)annual event serves as a means for the school community to enjoy Film Society curated films, and learn more about the craft during discussion segments.
To participants’ pleasant surprise, 40 plush, rich velvet red chairs invited them in. Quickly getting comfortable, they were about to find themselves tickled, perhaps even outright baffled, by the four experimental films lined up.
1. Nimic (2019)
“Excuse me, do you have the time?”, is the question that foreshadows the worst day of a father’s life.
While travelling home, the father asks a lady sitting opposite him for the time. She does not reply, instead repeating it back (talk about helpful.) She follows him home, and eyebrow-raising chaos ensues. Becoming his clone, the lady mimics his speech and actions. Oddly enough, the family cannot distinguish between them. As each of them proves themselves as the (wo)man of the family by lying in bed with the wife blindfolded, the lady ultimately emerges as the rightful “father”.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurdist film explores an existential worry for many of us: does our presence matter? This film does nothing to assuage that fear, but you get to laugh it off. If you’re really worried, don’t be: this won’t happen in the MRT. Probably.
2. Everything Will Be OK (2006)
This zany film by Don Hertzfeldt tells the life story of our socially awkward and dirty-minded protagonist, Bill. In the opening scene, Bill blurts out the cringeworthy line “How’s up?” as he approaches an acquaintance. At this point, Hodge Lodge erupted into laughter before observing a moment of silence as we recalled our own embarrassing blunders.
Beyond the comic relief, the film’s chaotic nature highlighted the serious issue of Bill’s mental disorder. In the film, scenes transition incoherently from things like Bill’s hatred for crotch-level fruit to his Asian entertainment obsession (don’t ask).
The simple animation style and stick figures also made the film more relatable, as viewers could easily project themselves onto the plot. Though one would then expect the film to lack depth, the audience agreed that the animations effectively expressed even the subtlest changes in emotion. Hertzfeldt’s film may just be proof that less is in fact more.
You may watch the film here.
3. La Jetée (1962)
Described as a “rumination on time, love, and the apocalypse”, Chris Marker’s film shows a WWIII prisoner chosen to time travel, since he harbours a distinct childhood memory. On his transtemporal journeys, he falls in love with a lady, but is sent for execution once the experiment succeeds. Humanoids from the future then invite him to escape. However, he requests only to return to the memory, set on a jetty.
The man, in short-lived jubilation, finds that the lady in his memory is his Time-Travelling Belle. Yet the next moment – his last – is the macabre reconciliation that this memory is that of his killing by his captors.
Typically, revolutions take decades to engender. Chris Marker took 28 minutes. Marker challenges the definition of film by composing his with still images. This represented how memories are recollected – in snapshots. The audience was left silently relishing Marker’s ingenious creation.
Find the full short here.
4. Scenes With Beans (1976)
What comes to mind when you hear “1970s film”? The Beatles? Hippies? Excessively high-waisted jeans? Wrong! Think “beans running around like humans”. Revolutionary, right?
Yes, the film’s concept might be a little… eccentric? But the meaning behind it is probably deeper than you’d expect. Directed by Ottó Foky, the film underscores the government scrutiny suffered by artists in 1970s Hungary, the director’s birthplace. With scenes depicting violent protests and colourful beans to cleverly represent race, the film offers uniquely charming social commentary on the period’s political circumstances.
This Foky classic was a brilliant way to end the afternoon, for it fit the theme of “experimental films” flawlessly. Though conceptualised nearly half a century ago, the film’s peculiar comedy still resonated with the Gen Z audience, who could not help but laugh at every tragic death scene (Leave it to us to crack up at the wrong moments).
You may find the 1976 film here.
The organising committee (including our writer) posing outside of the Hodge Lodge after the event
Facilitator Dhana states, “Since this is the first time in three years Hodge Lodge was hosted, we were quite unsure of ourselves.” Thankfully though, Film Society was nowhere near rusty.
The screening reflected the CCA’s aim of sharing the passion for the craft. Through the “Experimental” theme, curator Sean Toh Chin Siong (22S03C) reflects,
Since Singaporeans are not really exposed to experimental cinema, our screening offers them a fresh perspective. It shows that film is not just about inaccessible ideas, but stories conveyed through an expressive medium.
The facilitators led discussions on the films insightfully, concluding the session with a film trivia segment. Victors won coveted prizes including a can of beans, a cheeky homage to Foky’s film.