Hard to believe it was already the mid point of the festival, day three was the final visit to the Innis Town Hall before moving to the Royal for the weekend festivities.
Greeted by a large furry lion head I knew I was in for more than a conventional screening. Lily Eng: Real Asian Canadian Warrior Woman was Reel Asian’s Canadian Spotlight. In attendance Lily Eng and writer/filmmaker Peter Dudar were honoured for the evening with a traditional dragon dance brought to life with the costumes from the corridor. Sitting in the front row I received a playful fluffy mauling which was another cheeky highlight of the festival so far.
Having no reference for Eng’s work I was very lucky to witness a special piece acted out live by the performance artist. Taking the open stage space before the screen she provided a kinetic controlled interpretation of music almost playing it with her fingertips and limbs in movement. The screenings which followed were documentation and recorded extracts from a vast career that moved chronologically from the 70s – 80s. Powerful expressive body movements rippled over the screen in the restored retrospective. The question and answer session was a perfect end to the presentation with tales of interrupted performances at the AGO and relentless concurrent takes. She truly can find in a universe inside a small space and masters the invisible constrictions.
Fortune Teller was the follow on documentary film to finish the evening. Li Baicheng takes the titular profession which is technically illegal to practice and is treated akin to prostitution in the eyes of the law. Sex workers and others seek him out to find a solution in advice from another level. The film is split in to segments of clients starting with a Madame who wants to learn about the prospect of future happiness. Li Baicheng is very blunt and to the point with his forecasts. Changing your name as well as releasing animals in to the wild are some of the rituals needed to alter your set course. While going about his life we are introduced to his wife Pearl who is mentally handicapped and mute yet the pair share a bond. Their relationship is the focus of the documentary as we learn how Li Baicheng rescued her from an abusive family. His compassion was premeditated for company which at times he regrets. Images of the Fortune Teller feeding a bird with saliva and the drama around those seeking predictions make the film a curious winding tale behind the lives & stories of those overlooked.
Have you ever had your fortune told? Read what I predict you will love at the festival next.