Category Archives: Films

Mother Fish

Between 1975 and 1996, over 1,500,000 people fled Vietnam. Of those, only 900,000 made it to land.
Refugees continue to arrive by boat even today.
According to the Refugee Council of Australia, “Fleeing by boat is often very costly and extremely dangerous, and asylum seekers are vulnerable to exploitation by smugglers. It is not a form of escape which would be willingly chosen by asylum seekers if safer options were available.”

I’ve also taken a personal interest in the area of music therapy and refugees, and this article came up in the search: Music Therapy Helps Refugees. The possibilities and potential seem endless, and I hope I get an opportunity to work in this area next year. .

The Kindergarten Teacher

Caught this film at the recent Israel Film Festival – decided to give myself a break given that I’ve missed so many movies I would have liked to catch this year! A film about a young boy’s talent for words and poetry, and his kindergarten teacher’s growing obsessiveness with nurturing him and his talent. That his home environment was not supportive seemed to spur her determination on to bring him to greater heights.  Some lines are blurred as the audience wonders whether she is truly doing it for him or to feed her own ego and sense of achievement.

To digress – I couldn’t help but think that that’s how teaching today has come to be. I recall hearing ex-colleagues say: “I did this with the class, as a result they are…”. “So-and-so from my class got this and that achievement. I remember telling him…” Once, I thought a colleague seemed on the verge of expressing pride at herself when her student did well in his CCA, when he wasn’t even in her CCA! I know it’s good for teachers to be proud of their students and the work they do, but pride that comes from “Its my effort – they wouldn’t have achieved so much without me“- is simply egoism, don’t you think?
I know, because I’ve felt that way. And it’s a continuous battle to keep that pesky ego in check.

Anyway, back to the film- I found the ending slightly disturbing, even though I had inklings about where she was headed from some scenes in the middle. I think I sensed some transferencial relationships going on as well. Psychologically thought-provoking. I loved the play with words and poetry throughout as well. We can only wonder how much of the passages’ lyrical beauty was lost in translation.


Caught this amazing Canadian French film at the recent Sydney Film Festival.

The choir voices and arrangements are a beautiful backdrop to a moving storyline – young adults with varying intellectual disabilities, wanting to lead independent lives, trying to discover and experience Love in their own ways, dealing with concern from their family members and society who view them in different ways.

Knowing that filmmaker Louis Archambault used authentic actors and settings for this film made it even more inspiring. The authenticity of the characters gave me more to contemplate and reflect on. How do we view the mentally challenged in our societies? Are we guilty of assuming that they do not know or understand certain things, just because they have different intellectual capacities? It can be so easy to gloss over their desires and thoughts, because they do not articulate. However, receptive language is very different from expressive language – just because a person does not (is not able to) express herself does not mean that there is lack of emotions or understanding within. 

The film does a beautiful job of portraying the inner life of Gabrielle, as well as her sister – her carer – highlighting the challenges and fears they face in an ever-changing world. It does not judge, and neither does it ask viewers to come to any moral conclusion or decision – it simply allows us to experience a glimpse of the life of someone with different needs, and asks that we open our minds and hearts that little bit more, to empathize, understand, accept.

Barfi // Vivah

Watched 2 Bollywood films recently, through the magic and convenience of YouTube. After a dry spell, I think I’ve rekindled my love for this culture and genre of films. The music, song, dance – all so magical! The romantic escapist in me is satisfied.


Story about a mute and deaf man, and 2 women in his life – one of them with autism. The film is a true work of art in the aspect of communication without words.


Reviews didn’t treat this movie too kindly, describing it as lacking in any plot or storyline, making it more documentary than film-like. But for some reason, I sat through the whole 2 and a half hours, captivated by the very mundaneness of the characters’ lives and relationship development (not forgetting the music and vocals which were superb!). And there was a little climax at the end after all, which made me feel slightly rewarded 🙂


I love Bollywood.

Schindler’s List

In last week’s class discussion, we spoke about the humanistic views of psychology. How seeing life as a paradox can, to certain extents, help us accept our shortcomings, failures and sufferings better (hence therapies with a humanistic approach may not always aim to cure, especially in severe cases, but will aim to promote acceptance and growth within the individual’s capacity).

In the paradox of life, one might come to the following conclusions –

Without sadness, we will know no joy.
Without the pain of separation, we will not know the joy of reunion.
Without loss, we will not know how to appreciate what we have.
Without tragedy, we will know no hope.

I suppose seeing the world through paradoxic lens does make living a little less tiring, a little more bearable.

But, as I once read someone saying, you don’t necessarily need to know the taste of bitter gourds to fall in love with chocolates.

I still tend to question certain things, and there are still some things that seem harder to find meaning in. Watching films like Schindler’s List just makes me ponder about these things.

Perhaps its time to re-read Man’s Search for Meaning.