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FRESH KILL

USA, 1994 (MIFF 1994, Environmental Programme)

Director: Shu Lea Cheang

The film is a melting pot of post-post-modernists elements, its boiling plot set in a New York City of the near Future. A couple, Shareen (Sarita Choudhury - Mississippi Masala) and Claire, are raising their daughter in a converted garage crammed with the cast-off artifacts of a consumer-crazy society. Together with their pals - sushi chef/super hacker Jiannbin and renegade dishwasher/literary buff Miguel - they risk all hunting for their kidnapped child and investigating a global conspiracy. Shot by the Australian cinematographer Jane Castle (best known for lensing the recent Venice Gold Lion winner Just Desserts and Dead To The World) Fresh Kill is a highly toxic, high octane brew.

What do catfood and computers have to do with condoms? Shu Lea Cheang's debut feature Fresh Kill is a channel-hopper's blowout: zapping through ideas, images, captions and mini-dramas, designed to forge elusive connections and trigger those little everyday transgressions that make life worth living. Rooted in Cheang's own past as a video artist and in the thriving Asian-American performance art scene, the film confronts Neo-Depressionism with a dazzling mix of social satire, satellite dish-washing and - you guessed it - 'eco-cybernoia'.

The film hits its targets square on, from CNN's use of Asian anchors to the horrors of AIDS-awareness public service announcements. Needless to say, it's a film with attitude: not so much "do the right thing" as "out is in". It contains two pastiche catfood commercials to die for, and has the best pick-up lines, for example: "I wish I could be a cold, so I could sit on your chest".
- Tony Rayns

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