Asian Cinema Digest #1

By now, most of us are living our lives almost exclusively at home to curb the spread of COVID-19. Not being able to step into a cinema or attend a film festival can be a disheartening feeling. Here at the Asian Film Archive, we too are temporarily on a hiatus from our regular film programmes.

In the meantime, there is thankfully some brilliant online content to keep us engaged. Many initiatives have started as a response to the current lockdown situation that most of the world is in. There are also resources that have always existed but are less known. 

Asian Cinema Digest  is a new monthly initiative by the AFA that brings together online resources dealing specifically with Asian cinema. With a screen and internet connection, you can Watch, Read, Support and Explore Asian cinema from wherever you are in the world!  


Asian Film Archive Presents: Sunshine Singapore (1972)

Restored in 2018 from AFA’s own collection and presented online for the first time, Sunshine Singapore is a pioneering work by Rajendra Gour, possibly Singapore’s earliest independent short filmmaker.

Jiran Sekampung / Village Neighbours (2020)

A found footage work-in-progress piece by Singaporean artist-filmmaker Toh Hun Ping, as part of a larger project regarding Singapore on film through history.

The Last Reel (2014)

A directorial debut by Cambodian filmmaker Sotho Kulikar, The Last Reel (2014) deals with the legacy of trauma and terror of those who suffered under the Khmer Rouge. Available for free until 30 April 2020.

Thai Film Archive’s  ‘Apart for Awhile’ Youtube Playlist

Playlist of full-length films created specially for this time, containing the restored classic Santi Vina (1954) and other archival clips and videos.

Cinema One Originals Youtube Channel (Philippines) 

Cinema One Originals is an annual film festival in the Philippines that commissions and screens original films by new and emerging filmmakers. Close to 20 of their recent features and documentaries are available for free on their Youtube channel.  

Lockdown Cinema Club (Philippines)

An initiative set up by independent Filipino filmmakers to raise funds to help their fellow film workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Live Q&As, watch parties and 3 volumes of links to features and shorts by Filipino and Southeast Asian filmmakers have been uploaded on their facebook page, along with means to donate to the cause. 

IDFA Documentaries (Asian Selection) 

A selection of close to 50 Asian documentary films made freely available by IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam). 

Freedom Film Fest (Malaysia) 

More than 40 short and medium-length films funded and produced by Freedom Film Fest since 2005, available for free.

Japanese Film Festival x MOOSIC LAB 

12 medium and feature-length Japanese indie films available for free. 

Sundays for Hong Kong II – Films about a ruptured city

Originally planned to be screened at the Gropius Bau museum in Berlin, German cultural platform Berliner Festspiele is streaming four feature-length documentaries from Hong Kong for free until 7 May 2020.

Asian Cinema series on MUBI

A Journey Into Indian Cinema A special year-long series of Indian classics including rarely-seen works such as Ghaire-Bhaire (1984) by Satyaji Ray and Ankur (1974) by Shyam Benegal

Recently launched, Spotlight on Edmund Yeo is a special programme that features the Malaysian filmmaker’s most recent film Aqérat (2017) along with three of his short films. 

A MUBI membership costs USD$10.99 (monthly) or $95.88 (yearly). 

Contemporary Asian films streaming on Vimeo 

In view of the cinema closures indie film distributors Anticipate Pictures (Singapore) and HAL Distribution (Thailand) are streaming several films in their library on Vimeo to purchase or rent. These include critically-acclaimed Asian films such as: 


Publication: Celluloid Void 2 – The Lost Films of Southeast Asia

Browse through AFA’s very own exhibition publication from 2016 that deals with lost films from the region, anchored by the twin themes of Confluence and Conflict.

Interview: Much Ado About Nothing: Southeast Asian Filmmakers on Life with the ‘Rona (Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3

SINdie interviews filmmakers from Southeast Asia to talk about how they are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns.

Interview: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi 

Japanese auteur Nobuhiko Ôbayashi passed away on 10 April at the age of 82. Most-known for his cult horror film Hausu (House) (1977), he directed close to 50 films throughout his career, including his newest, Labyrinth of Cinema in 2019. Here is a recent interview of his by MUBI.

Interview: Tsai Ming-Liang on ‘Days’ 

Cinemascope and Filmmaker Magazine interview Tsai Ming-Liang on his newest Berlin International Film Festival Teddy award-winning film Days (2020).

Article: The Golden Age of Cambodia’s Silver Screen 

Taing Rinith of the Khmer Times reflects on how Cambodian cinema thrived during the civil war.


SEAsian Indie Cinemas

While all cinemas – including Oldham Theatre – are closed temporarily, some are hit harder than others. 

Help small businesses including beloved indie cinemas such as Singapore’s The Projector and Thailand’s Bangkok Screening Room tide over this tough time by purchasing vouchers and merchandise


Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals (SAMPP) COVID-19 Relief Fund

SAMPP has set up a fund offering grants, free memberships as well as a dedicated resource website to help all eligible Singapore-based media practitioners whose livelihoods have been affected.

Documentary Freelancer Relief Fund

US-based platform Field of Vision has created a fund to provide grants to freelancers working in the documentary field, anywhere in the world. The next round of applications are open from 6-8 May 2020. 

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