STOP10 Jan 2017: 'The Glare' by K Rajagopal

With his debut feature film A Yellow Bird premiering at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the 27th Singapore International Film Festival and showing in cinemas around Singapore, K. Rajagopal is a name that locals will slowly start to recognise and remember.

He is stranger to the scene, with eleven short films under his belt since his journey from 1995 and winning the Special Jury Prize three years in a row at the Singapore International Film Festival Silver Screen Awards from 1995 to 1997. Some might even recognise him from his contribution to the omnibus film '7 Letters' – a commemorative film project for SG50. Sometimes you really want to catch some of these award winners you always hear about but have no idea where to do so.

The Singapore Film Society (SFS) has organised a retrospective of all his films to celebrate his journey and contributions to the local film industry. The is the second retrospective of his films since the National Museum did one back in 2010.

Here are the event details:

Date: 14th January 2016
Venue: SCAPE Gallery, Level 5
Time: 2pm to 6pm
- If you are an SFS member, you get in for free
- If you are an SFS Reel Card holder, you can get in for free also bring up to 2 guests
- If you are not a member you can sign up as a member for $95.68; or your could buy the SFS Reel Cards at either $95.68 (for 20 shows) or $53.62 (for 6 shows)

For more details and to purchase tickets, head down to this link.

Among the short films screened, two of our favourites include The Glare (1996) as well as Timeless (2010). Self-reflective yet explosive in nature of film, The Glare follows the story of a woman in an abusive relationship. In an attempt to escape her reality, she turns to the media – a television set. When this escape route eventually gets destroyed, she submits herself to cruel fate and into the world of despair, racial discrimination and a loss of emotional life. We actually caught these films during his first retrospective back in 2010 and here is a link to our review of The Glare (amongst other films).

David Lee, Vice-Chairman of SFS and Managing Director of The Filmic Eye, who put together this programme, shares that he likes the editing in The Glare, which allows us to peep into the inner psyche of the main character such as when she fantasizes about being a movie character in David Lean's Brief Encounter.

“Her obsession with television and film provides brief respite from the abuse and the harsh reality that she faces, and I like how the ending also leave us with more questions, as to whether the escapism is doing more harm than good,” says David.

We had a brief word with Rajagopal regarding this upcoming retrospective and asked him how he felt about watching a piece of work made two decades ago. He said,"While The Glare is technically more backward, I don't feel shy about showcasing it because it is what we we could put together with the limited resources we had during that time. I am quite happy with how it turned out and it even won a popularity vote at the Singapore International Film Festival then over Moveable Feast. The winning of the vote was even broadcast on national news then. In fact, the audience's eager response at the festival and the fact that they found it funny really surprised me."

"For today's audience, it has many elements that people can still relate to - television culture, larger-than-life characters etc. The film pokes fun at this culture. We have all been glued to our television sets (or YouTube in today's terms) at some point, so it would be easy to identify with it," added Rajagopal.

With a rich body of work made over 2 decades, this is one retrospective that you should not miss. Capturing stories that are heartfelt and always about people, there are definitely realisations and lessons to take away from each work.

About K Rajagopal

As a filmmaker, Rajagopal has won the Singapore International Film Festivalʼs Special Jury Prize for 3 consecutive years with his first three short films I can't sleep tonight (1995), The Glare (1996) and Absence (1997). His commissioned work Timeless (2010) won Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Singapore Short Film Awards 2011. In 2015, he directed a short film The Flame, which was also part of the SG50 MDA commissioned omnibus film 7 Letters.

He has written and directed several television films for Channel 5 and Okto Channel. He has also worked on stage for over ten years where he has collaborated with many notable theatre directors. He appeared in the role of King Lear in The King Lear Project at Kunsten Festival Des Arts in Brussels and at the Singapore Arts Festival in 2008 and played Faust in Film Faust for Esplanade Presents Series in 2009. In 2012, K. Rajagopal was a recipient of the New Feature Talent Grant from the Media Development Authority of Singapore.

Written by Dawn Teo

For the full list of January 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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