Asian Cinema Digest #10

Welcome to the first edition of AFA’s Asian Cinema Digest of 2021!

We are platforming artist-filmmakers this month with avant-garde programmes such as Anthropocene: Korea x Brazil 2019-2021 and ON/OFF/SCREEN; limited online releases of works by Shireen Seno and Dinh Q. Lê; as well as an essay on Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s oeuvre. 

Other highlights include a new book focused on the life and career of Lav Diaz and a fantastic opportunity is in store for aspiring Southeast Asian animators.  

Happy New Year! 


Film still from Narrating War Z 32 (2008, dir. Avi Mograbi)

Avi Mograbi: A Retrospective

London-based distribution and production platform Cryptofiction presents a showcase of 8 features by prominent Israeli documentarian Avi Mograbi

Region-Focused Programmes by DAfilms 

The VOD arm of pan-European platform, Doc Alliance, DAfilms’ newest slate includes programmes focused on contemporary documentaries from Taiwan, Iran, and Syria

Video still from Ho Tzu Nyen’s The Children: Side A (Ozu Yasujiro) (2019), part of Frequencies of Tradition, an online video exhibition

Frequencies of Tradition

Taking place from 15 December 2020 – 30 January 2021, and addressing the entanglements between tradition and modernity in Asia, this online video exhibition brings together six of the works featured in the eponymous group exhibition currently on view at the Guangdong Times Museum.  

Anthropocene: Korea x Brazil 2019-2021

A collaborative project by Associação Cultural Videobrasil and Ilmin Museum of Art, in Seoul, in partnership with ARKO Fund (Arts Council Korea), Anthropocene, brings together a selection of artworks by six major Korean video and film artists, that investigate the clash between the futures envisioned by science, technology, and capitalism, and the future as it actually presents itself. 

Otherworlds: non/digital realities

A mixed-reality exhibition responding to the new challenges faced by the art world, where the usual mode of presenting and viewing art is disturbed by the recent global situation. Commencing on 28 January 2020 with a physical exhibition at the Gillman Barracks in Singapore, online programmes include a Virtual Reality curator’s tour, a panel discussion, and a workshop

Ziyang Wu: Where Did Macy Go?

In her first solo exhibition in Singapore, New York-based Chinese artist, Ziyang Wu presents a 11-episode animated video that deals with the pandemic and discusses the collapse of old structures, and the emergence of a new community. 


Curated by the Moving Picture Experiment Group (MPEG), this interdisciplinary event, will take place at DECK (Singapore) from 21 January – 18 February 2021 and will feature an exhibition, performances, and workshops. There will also be public film programme available both online and on-site.

Nervous Translation by Shireen Seno 

Presented by NTU CCA Singapore, as part of the online film programme, Speaking / Thinking Nearby, this screening of Filipino artist-filmmaker Shireen Seno’s feature film from 2018 will be available to view from 6-19 January 2021. 

Still from The Colony (2016, dir. Dinh Q. Lê)

The Colony by Dinh Q. Lê 

From 14 December 2020 – 31 March 2021, Peruvian art platform proyectoamil will present a screening of a medium-length film work from 2016 by renowned Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê. 

The Small Town (Kasaba) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan 

Screening as part of MUBI’s First Films First, a series that features the debut works of renowned filmmakers, The Small Town is Turkish arthouse veteran Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s low-budget black-and-white film from 1997. 


Monographs Essays

Two new AFA commissioned written essays  have been published from the Monographs series., commissioned by AFA. From India, Tenzing Sonam, writes the inspiring story of Dharamshala International Film Festival, and from Indonesia, Bunga Siagian expands on the troubled legacy of leftist cinema of from the 50s and 60s.

Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong: Ann Hui on Love After Love

The acclaimed Hong Kong director weighs in on her latest period piece, unveiled at the 77th Venice Film Festival.

Still from Raise the Red Lantern (1991, dir. Zhang Yimou)

Symposium: Great Beyond 

Film publication Reverse Shot’s newest symposium asked contributors to select and re-watch a film that was formative for them as they emerged into cinephilia and which hails from a country different from the one in which they were raised. Each piece had to respond to the questions: What are the reasons that it appealed to you? Did you find its depictions of a different culture to be relatable to your own experience, or did it seem productively far away

Mikio Naruse’s Yearning (1964), Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015) and Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern (1991) are among the chosen film subjects. 

Still from In the Mood for Love (2000, dir. Wong Kar Wai)

Wong Kar-wai’s Masterpieces of Political Uncertainty

Film correspondent for The New Republic Lidija Haas elucidates the political subtexts within the films of Wong Kar-wai. 

Still from Happy Together (!997, dir. Wong Kar Wai)

The Rhythm of Dreams: Wong Kar-wai in Five Songs

A journey into Wong’s cinema, as heard through the music that makes his films such indelible experiences.

Still from King of Chinatown (1939, dir. Nick Grinde)

Archival Treasures: Anna May Wong in Hollywood and China

Writing for the blog of The UCLA Film & Television Archive, academic Shirley Jennifer Lim dives into a lesser-known chapter of Anna May Wong’s career. 

Photo from masterclass with Darren Aronofsky and from the opening night of the 2018 Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival

“Cinema is an Oneiric Medium and the Cinema Hall Transposes You There”: Chaitanya Tamhane on His Dream Palaces

The newest in a running series by Sight & Sound Magazine the director of Court (2014) and The Disciple (2020) reflects on his formative adventures in movie-going at Mumbai’s now-threatened picture palaces.

Conversations With Lav Diaz

A new book on the prolific Filipino auteur by Italian film scholar, Michael Guarneri. 

Flyer for Masao Adachi’s Closed Vagina (Sain) screening at Art Theater Shinjuku Bunka, 1965. Private collection.

Destination Out: Cinematic Illumination, More Than Cinema and Japanese Expanded Cinema and Intermedia

Writing for the journal, The Brooklyn Rail, filmmaker, writer and programmer, Steve Macfarlene expands on the newest publication of critical texts on 1960s Japanese avant-garde cinema. 

Still from The Retrieval, Restoration, and Predicament, 2018–2019. Single-channel video (colour, sound); bronze sculptures, by Lee Kai Chung

How Did You Two Meet? Moving Image Beyond the Camera 

Moving Image curators Ulanda Blair and Chanel Kong from Hong Kong’s M+ delve into the museum’s collection to juxtapose two vastly different works: Free Radicals (1958/1979) by late New Zealand–born artist Len LyeLen Lye and The Retrieval, Restoration and Predicament (2018) by Lee Kai Chung from Hong Kong. 

Still from Some unexpected events sometimes bring momentary happiness (2009, dir. Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook)

Conversing with Corpses and Dogs: Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Resonant Videos 

A retrospective look at the video works of one of Thailand’s most internationally recognised artists. 


Southeast Asia Focus@MIFA Annecy

A collaboration between the Embassy of France in Singapore, Annecy International Animation Festival and International Animation Film Market (MIFA), this is an open call for in-development shorts, features or TV series. Successful applicants (only from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) will receive mentorship from experts and the opportunity to pitch their projects to producers and broadcasters during the Annecy Festival 2021. Deadline for submissions is on 18 January 2021.

Call for Volunteer: Social Media & Publicity Manager (SeaShorts Film Society)

Malaysia’s SeaShorts Film Society, and the main organiser of the SeaShorts Film Festival is looking for someone to fill this position. Those interested may apply from anywhere in the world as the work will be based entirely online. 

SGIFF Film Fund

The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is offering two film grants for Southeast Asian film projects: the Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian-Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC) and the SGIFF Southeast Asian Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS)

These grants are dedicated to supporting filmmakers with compelling stories to tell across both fiction and non-fiction genres.

Submissions for the grants in the 2021 cycle are now open from 1 December 2020 to Friday to 31 January 2021, 23:59 (GMT+8).

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