PUFF2013: The Lives of Hamilton Fish

Tonight was opening night of the Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong’s indie film fest, screening movies from all over the world. The night began with several short films and finished off with a feature: The Lives of Hamilton Fish, written, directed, and performed by Rachel Mason.

Based on true events, the narrator describes the connection between two men—both named Hamilton Fish—who happen to die on the same day, with both deaths featured on the front page of “The Evening Star,” printed on January 16, 1936. (source) One Hamilton Fish was an American lawyer and politician. The other was a serial killer who preyed upon children.

The feature was performed as a “rock opera.” While the film was being played, Mason—dressed as the narrator/editor complete with Bowie-esque face paint—stood a few feet away from the screen and sang throughout the entire movie. The score was beautiful and powerful country folk with Mason’s lilting vocals carrying us through the story. This experience reminded me of how folklore was originally passed down: through oral tradition. Inside the dark room with the glow of the projection in front and a spotlight on Mason, I felt like I was transported into a forest huddled around a campfire, listening to a masterful storyteller. It was magical.

Mason playing out the credits. I can’t wait to get my hands on the soundtrack!

The next feature I’m looking forward to watching is “Transgender Tuesdays: A Clinic In the Tenderloin.” For more info on PUFF2013’s schedule, click here.

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