THE WORLD’S MOST FASHIONABLE PRISON (CK Mak, Singapore/UK). 67 minutes. Today (Thursday, May 3), 6:30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Saturday (May 5), 11 am, Isabel Bader; Sunday (May 6,) 4 pm, Cumberland 2. Rating: NNN
When something totally unexpected happens during a documentary shoot, the surprise usually gives the movie its magic moment.
Unfortunately, that's not what happens here. CK Mak was on a roll in this story of famed fashion designer Puey Quinones, who teaches inmates in a Filipino maximum security prison to style and sew in order to stage a fashion show.
The prisoners, most of them living in the gay dorm, talk about their jail experiences, their process of coming out and how working with Quinones is changing their perspective on just about everything.
But Quinones keeps talking about how he's been having a bad year. Eventually it comes out that he provoked a major scandal when he passed off a store-bought suit as his own design, a revelation that switches the focus from the fascinating prisoners to the less interesting Quinones.
What might have been documentary gold sends the narrative off the rails.