Asian Cinema Digest #2

As some countries are slowly emerging out of lockdown, many others still remain cautious and vigilant as the pandemic continues. In these times, cinema can be a welcome salve for our collective anxieties and doubts. 

The second edition of the digest features the online premieres of new 2020 films such as Jia Zhangke’s quarantine-themed short, The Visit as well as Lei Yuan Bin’s documentary about migrant workers, I Dream of Singapore. Get to know exciting new cinematic voices through interviews with Truong Minh Quý and Arun Karthick. If you are a filmmaker or artist, creative opportunities are being provided by the Singapore International Film Festival, as well as the Asia Culture Center. All this and much more will keep you engaged with Asian Cinema during the month of May! 


Asian Film Archive Presents: Ring of Fury (1973) 

A gem of Singaporean genre cinema, Ring of Fury is the nation’s first and only martial arts film. Notoriously banned for more than three decades, it went largely unseen until 2017 when the AFA restored the film from the sole surviving film print. Accompanying this online premiere is a blog piece written by AFA Archivist Chew Tee Pao, in memory of the co-director of the film, James Sebastian, who passed away recently on 7 April 2020. 

Jia Zhangke’s The Visit (2020)

Commissioned by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, this newest work by Jia Zhangke is part of a collection of films made by filmmakers within the confines of their homes.

$alary Day (2020) 

Making its online debut, directed and acted by R. Madhavan, who hails from Tamil Nadu, India, this is the first film produced out of a collaboration between migrant workers and Singaporeans.

At the Time of the Ebb (2019) 

Online artists’ film and video platform, Vdrome presents a work by Kuwaiti-Puerto Rican visual artist Alia Farid, originally commissioned for the Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber. Viewable for free from 29 April – 12 May 2020.

Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) Presents: My Father’s House (2011)

The first in a new series of films being presented by the KCCUK on their Youtube page, My Father’s House is a personal documentary by Kangyu Garam about her own family, as it struggles with the financial strife of urban life in Seoul. The director has also made a special video introduction for this occasion. 

I Dream of Singapore (2020)

A poignant and poetic documentary about the lives of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Singapore, Director Lei Yuan Bin newest feature is now available for rent for a limited time. Proceeds go toward supporting initiatives by non-profit organisation, TWC2 and independent cinema venue, The Projector

Balangiga: Howling Wilderness (2018)

Prolific experimental filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz reimagines the 1901 Balangiga conflict between Fillipino civilians and American soldiers, in this surreal film that is now available for purchase and download.

Queer East Film Festival Presents – QE: HomeSexual 

Originally slated to take place from 18 April – 17 May 2020, but postponed to later this year, the UK-based platform showcases LGBTQ+ cinema from East and Southeast Asia. A virtual series of shorts and features are now available for rent during the festival dates, with all proceeds going to independent cinemas in London.

Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections

Co-produced by the The Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo International Film Festival, this omnibus series brings together three filmmakers from the Philippines (Brillante Mendoza), Japan (Isao Yukisada)  and Cambodia (Sotho Kulikar). It is now streaming for free until 30 June 2020.

It’s About Time: The Cinema of Lav Diaz

MUBI presents the first-ever online retrospective of Filipino auteur Lav Diaz. Available for rent, it features nine of his films, including the 11-hour magnum opus, Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004).

Objectifs Film Library 

Singapore-based film and photography centre, Objectifs has launched a new online initiative featuring a curated selection of Southeast Asian short films that can be viewed for a small rental fee. 

Cinemas of India 

Set up by the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC), the streaming platform hosts several free-to-watch short films and film clips as well as feature-length classic and contemporary films that can be rented from as low as USD$1 each.

Platform Asia Presents: Displaced Belongings 

Curated by UK-based Platform Asia, Displaced Belongings is a programme of six recent video works by Asian artists that can be viewed from 8-30 May 2020. 

Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) Presents: Viewing Room

A new initiative by DIFF, Viewing Room is a fortnightly programme of features and shorts that have previously been screened at the festival. The current programme runs from 12-26 May 2020.


Article: Japanese Filmmakers Launch Campaigns to Save Tokyo’s Indie Cinemas

As Japan undergoes a nationwide state of emergency, its film communities rally in support of some of its treasured arthouse venues.

Interview: Sahra Karimi (Afghan Film) 

Newly-started online film publication Rep Cinema International interviews Sahra Karimi, a filmmaker and Director General of Afghan Film, the country’s state-owned film production company and archive. 

Interview: Mohammad Rasoulof

The persecuted Iranian filmmaker speaks to Film Comment about his newest, Berlin Golden Bear winning film, There Is No Evil (2020).

“Home, far away from Home”: Truong Minh Quý on The Tree House (2019)

Genre-bending Vietnamese filmmaker Truong Minh Quý discusses his recent hybrid documentary with Senses of Cinema

A Simple Life: Arun Karthick on Nasir (2020)

A new voice in Indian cinema, Arun Karthick expands on his sophomore feature, Nasir which won the NETPAC Jury Award at the 2020 International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Signs of Life: Letters from Jia Zhangke and Apichatpong Weerasethakul 

Dutch film magazine De Filmkrant has published open letters by the two iconic Asian filmmakers from their respective homes in Beijing and Chiang Mai.

Feeling Seen: Song of the Exile

Part of a column by Film Comment focusing on personal reflections on films, this edition is about Ann Hui’s Song of Exile (1990).

Where to Begin with Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Presented by the British Film Institute, this series introduces readers to the works of particular directors and film movements. This edition deals with the films of critically-acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Hong Kong University Press Books on Asian Cinema 

More than 20 academic books on New Hong Kong Cinema and East Asian Screen Cultures have been made available for free until 30 June 2020.

Open Calls

Singapore International Film Festival (2020)

From 20 April 2020 to 24 August 2020, SGIFF is welcoming entries for its Competition and Official Selection sections as well as applications for the Southeast Asian Film Lab and Youth Jury & Critics Programme.

2020 ACC Cinema Fund

Asia Culture Center (ACC) based in South Korea, is calling for proposals for films and moving image works. Deadline is on 25 May 2020. 

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