Asian Cinema Digest #11

This month’s digest purveys the rare and the overlooked in the world of cinema, with an online retrospective of 70s underground Japanese filmmaker Nakamura Masanobu, as well as a curated selection of independent Asian American films from the 90s. 

Also featured are new writings on pioneering Indian actor Surya Kumari, Japanese director Kobayashi Masaki, and Bangladeshi documentarian Yasmine Kabir


From the Asian Film Archive Collection: Scene 38 (2015)
Made by Thai filmmaker Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, this short film is part of Fragment, a commissioned omnibus project initiated by the AFA in conjunction with its 10th anniversary celebrations in 2015. The film will be available to view from 9 February – 6 April 2021.

My Sight is Lined With Visions: 1990s Asian American Film & Video

Consisting of an online film programme, accompanying essays, and Q&As, this is a year-long initiative by distribution platform Sentient. Art. Film that culminates on 25 January 2022. 

Both Sides Now 6: Viral Futures

videoclub (UK) and videotage (Hong Kong), are co-presenting this selection of moving image works that respond to the current pandemic. Part one concluded in January 2021 and part two of the programme, Body/Politic screens online from 22-28 February 2021. 

Post-Underground Cinema: Strange World of Nakamura Masanobu

A retrospective programme of Japanese underground filmmaker Nakamura Masanobu, presented by Art Saloon, a new digital cinematheque that focuses on alternative films. 

95 and 6 to Go (2016)

Part of a continuing series of films curated in response to the exhibition Trinh T. Minh-ha. Films. by NTU CCA Singapore, this film by award-winning filmmaker Kimi Takasue (USA) screens online from 15-28 February 2021.  

Before Summer Ends (2017)

A quasi-documentary about three Iranian friends as they embark on a summer road trip across France. 

Subarnarekha / The Golden Thread (1965)

Melding the poetry of neo-realism and melodrama, the final film in revered Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak’s Partition Trilogy portrays the refugee experience with the tenderness of hope.

Spring in a Small Town (1948, dir. Fei Mu)

Online Course: Chinese Film Classics

Devised by Dr. Christopher Rea, Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, this free, self-paced online course is focused on early Chinese cinematic masterworks from 1922-1949, with each module featuring a subtitled film and two video lectures. 

Eating Air (1999, dir. Jasmine Ng, Kelvin Tong)

Under the Red Dot: A Phenomenology of Singapore Cinema

An online presentation by the Asian Cinema Research Lab (ACR Lab), dealing with Singapore cinema – its identity as an economic gateway to Asia, and political port of transit to postcolonial stability. Taking place on 19 February 2021, 1100-1230hrs (GMT +8)

Forgetting Vietnam (2015, dir. Trinh T. Minh-ha)

Conference: “There is no such thing as documentary”

Co-organised by Dr Erika Balsom (Canada/United Kingdom), Prof Ute Meta Bauer (Germany/Singapore), Dr Marc Glöde (Germany/Singapore), and Dr Ella Raidel (Austria/Singapore)

As the concluding programme of the exhibition Trinh T. Minh-ha. Films., this four-part conference brings together scholars and practitioners across filmic, anthropological and curatorial disciplines, addressing notions of multivocality, performativity, and truth in fiction, through Trinh’s practice as a filmmaker and theorist. 

Director Hirokazu Koreeda moderating a session between Japanese actress Ai Hashimoto and South Korean director Kim Bora

“Asia Lounge” Conversation Series 

Co-presented by The Japan Foundation Asia Center & Tokyo International Film Festival, this is a series of recorded dialogues between leading film directors from various Asian countries and regions and their Japanese peers. 


Lucid Dreaming

A podcast series featuring contemporary moving image makers and artists in conversation with author and curator Pamela Cohn. Miko Revereza, Shireen Seno, and Lawrence Lek are among those featured. 


Monographs: Cinema of the Unspoken – Documentary Shorts of Yasmine Kabir

Bangladeshi academic and curator, Tazeen Ahmed’s essay is the latest in a slate of commissioned writings on Asian cinema by the AFA. 

Senses of Cinema: Festival Reports

The latest issue of Senses of Cinema features reports on various Asian film festivals in 2020 (Dharamshala, Busan, Tokyo and Taipei) and how they dealt with the pandemic. 

Objectifs Short Film Incubator 2020: Public Lectures

Organised as part of a programme by Objectifs and Momo Film Co, these are detailed recaps of public online lectures that took place during the month of September 2020. Aimed at emerging short filmmakers, these lectures delve into topics such as post-production, pitching, and distribution

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987, dir. Kazuo Hara)

The Violence of Privacy: A Conversation with Kazuo Hara

An interview with a major figure in Japanese non-fiction cinema, known for controversial and groundbreaking films such as The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987).

Uran Khatola (1955, dir. S.U. Sunny)

The Trailblazers

An ongoing series by independent publication Scroll, about pioneering diaspora Indians, featuring articles on spiritual guru and filmmaker Akhoy Kumar Mozumdar, as well as stage and screen actor Surya Kumari

An Unusual Summer (2020, dir. Kamal Aljafari)

I Thought I Was Seeing Palestinians: On Kamal Aljafari

An appraisal of the filmography of acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker, Kamal Aljafari. 

The White Tiger Inverts the Indian Rags-to-Riches Story

A review of Iranian-American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani’s latest adaptation of the Man Booker Prize-winning Indian novel by Aravind Adiga. 

Kwaidan (1964, dir. Kobayashi Masaki)

Anarchist Cinema: A Dream of Resistance: The Cinema of Kobayashi Masaki by Stephen Prince

A review of the first English-language book on the expansive, but under-appreciated career of Japanese filmmaker Kobayashi Masaki whose more international renowned works include Harakiri (1962), Kwaidan (1964) and Samurai Rebellion (1967)


Open Call: G-Short – Short Film Festival 

Part of the George Town Festival 2021, to be held in Penang, Malaysia in July 2021, this is an open call to filmmakers to submit a 90-second film on the theme Reimagine: A New Way of Seeing. The deadline is 11 April 2021.

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