Asian Cinema Digest #21

In celebration of Lunar New Year 2022, February’s edition of the Asian Cinema Digest brings together a roaring variety of programmes! 

Don’t miss these East Asian cinema streaming specials, including two films by Wayne Wang, a long-awaited 4K restoration of Fruit Chan’s Made in Hong Kong (1997) , and a series of Chinese film screenings at Asian Pop-up Cinema

For a comprehensive study on Asian cinema and its perspectives, attend a panel discussion on Inter-Asian Film Censorship, join a curated open-course on Asian Cinema or hop on a virtual book talk on Chinese missionary films

Turning to Southeast Asia, discover a powerful film on Bangkok’s sex workers,  tune in to some of the most iconic soundtracks from Vietnamese films, listen to a discussion of Rithy Panh’s documentaries and round-off with an essay on spiritual short films in Southeast Asia.


Made in Hong Kong (1997) by Fruit Chan

Metrograph is currently streaming the 4K restoration of Fruit Chan’s Made in Hong Kong. Carried out in the Hong Kong and Bologna headquarters of L’Immagine Ritrovata, the restoration from the original camera negative was supervised by Fruit Chan and cinematographer O Sing-Pui. Available to stream with a subscription, watch this restored Hong Kong classic in the comfort of your own home. 

Further readings on the film can be found here

Image still from To Kill the Birds & the Bees (2021, dir. Calleen Koh)

Objectifs Film Library; National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) 2021 Shorts

Take a peek at these new additions in the Objectifs Film Library. Titles from the National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) 2021 are available to stream for free online until 10 February 2022, showcasing award-winning short films such as To Kill the Birds & the Bees (2021) by Calleen Koh, GIRLS (2021) by Tamara Tan and Dark Light (2021) by Vikneshwaran Silva.

Karaoke Girl (2013) by Visra Vichit-Vadakan

Now playing on Criterion Channel, Visra Vichit-Vadakan’s Karaoke Girl gives a new life to the underbelly of Bangkok’s streets, revealing the innermost hopes, dreams and feelings of a young Bangkok sex worker. Karaoke Girl is Vichit-Vadakan’s first feature film. 

Asian Cinema Education Lectures: A Tour Through Asian Cinema

These free open-course lectures on Asian Cinema are a real treat for film art enthusiasts. Join 16 film scholars, programmers and critics in their discussion of Asian films,  including their sociocultural contexts and aesthetic traditions. Peruse the Course Schedule and choose any lecture topic that interests you–no registration required. 

One of the courses “The Poetics of Chinese-Language Cinema” is held by Kiki Fung, whose essay on Mikio Naruse is part of Monographs 2020

Image still from Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985, dir. Wayne Wang)

Directed by Wayne Wang

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Wayne Wang’s Chan is Missing (1982) and Dim Sum: A Little Bit Of Heart (1985) as he explores Chinese-American identity, cultural assimilation and generational conflict with humour and a dash of nostalgia. 

Raining in the Mountain (1979) by King Hu 

Heralding the Year of the Tiger, catch Criterion’s exclusive streaming premiere of Raining in the Mountain (1979). This riveting historical film features carefully choreographed action sequences directed by legendary wuxia specialist King Hu. 

Image still from When the Persimmons Grew (2019, dir. Hilal Baydarov)

Four Films by Hilal Baydarov

Four award-winning films by Azerbaijan auteur Hilal Baydarov is now streaming on, including the Katech trilogy and his debut documentary One Day in Selimpasha (2018)

Image still from Striding Into the Wind (2020, dir. Wei Shujun)

Asian Pop-Up Cinema 2022

From 1 to 15 February 2022, Asian Pop-Up Cinema is streaming a selection of Chinese films for free. The line-up includes Wei Shujun’s Striding Into The Wind (2020), Liu Ze’s Being Mortal (2019) and an anthology of 7 short films, My People, My Country (2019). Watch now on Smart Cinema USA, available to USA and Canadian viewers only. 


Image still from Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (2015, dir. Victor Vũ)

Vietnamese Film Soundtrack Special curated by Phambinho

Sonically traverse some of the most iconic soundtracks in Vietnamese cinema curated by NTS Radio’s Resident Phambino, including the works of eminent film composers Christopher Wong, Tôn Thất An and Đức Trí. Tune in to 14 beautiful soundtracks for free on the NTS website. 

Image still from Graves Without a Name (2018, dir. Rithy Panh)

The Cinema of Rithy Panh: Everything Has a Soul

On New Books Network’s Southeast Asian Studies Podcast, film scholars Leslie Barnes and Joseph Mai uncover Rithy Panh’s cinematic journey in documentary-making, inspired by his experiences—from living under the Khmer Rouge regime to his escape and immigration to France. Listen for free on Spotify. 

Mamoru Hosoda on the Animation Process, the Internet, and Belle

The Film at Lincoln Center podcast presents a fascinating Q&A from the 59th New York Film Festival with Belle director Mamoru Hosoda as he recalls his process of creating this profoundly human coming-of-age animation—from inspiration to execution. 


Image still from Kisses (1957, dir. Yasuzo Masumura), one of the films cited in Nagisa Oshima’s essay. Yasuzo Masumura was considered a key filmmaker in Japanese New Wave cinema.

Is It A Breakthrough? (The Modernists of Japanese Film) By Nagisa Oshima

An excerpt from Nagisa Oshima’s autobiography, Metrograph republishes the director’s assessment of the emerging modernist cinematic movement in Japan and the need to balance innovation and tradition.

Interview with Jakrawal Nilthamrong on Anatomy of Time (2021)

Thai filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong speaks about his personal history that inspired his third feature Anatomy of Time, the film’s dedication to realism and the universality of human suffering.

Image still from Uski Roti (1970, dir. Mani Kaul)

Parables of Perception: Three Films by Mani Kaul

A reputed director of Indian parallel cinema, Criterion writer Ratik Asokan explores Mani Kaul’s cinematic form, aesthetics, philosophies and critics’ reception of his stylistic approach to Hindu art cinema.

Image still from My Way (2012, dir. Ann Hui) the subject of the essay “The Networked Storyteller and Her Digital Tale: Film Festivals and Ann Hui’s ‘My Way’ “

Global Storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images

Global Storytelling has published a new issue on their open-access dossier hosted by Hong Kong Baptist University which focuses on aspects of storytelling in East and Southeast Asia including examinations on  transnational culture, media practices and identity discourse. 

Excerpt from Landscape Series #1 by Nguyễn Trinh Thi, courtesy of the artist.

Dialogues with the Unseen By ​​Juliette Yu-Ming Lizeray

Running in conjunction with Museum of the Moving Image’s program on Southeast Asian films, this critical essay expounds on the relationships between the living and non-living in the context of unseen Southeast Asian short films. 

Image still from COVID MANIFESTO (2020, dir. Cauleen Smith)

Who Cares About Cinema? By Dennis Vetter

As an archive, “caring” for cinema is central to our work. This ethos is succinctly deconstructed by Berlin Critics’ Week Art Director Dennis Vetter in his critical essay on the need for care within the film industry and community. Through maintaining and repairing the film ecosystem that sustains cinema, the act of care is recentred within Asian cinematic representation and history.  

Tsai Ming-Liang on Chasing the Film Spirit 

Recently published on The Metrograph, Tsai Ming-Liang tells of his first encounter with cinema and several fond memories that inspired his film Goodbye, Dragon Inn. Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul also expresses his personal appreciation for the film in an essay here


Cinematic Mediation: Missionary Filmmaking and Evolving Visions of Modern China

Happening on 25 February 2022, ACR Lab presents a book talk on Joseph Ho’s new publication spotlighting vernacular films produced within China by American Protestant and Catholic missionaries, bridging American interests with modern Chinese nation-building ideals. The talk traces the lives and afterlives of their filmmaking practices as framed by transnational consequences and shifting historical contexts. Free with registration.

From Extraterritoriality to Extratemporality: Digital Ecology and Hong Kong Independent Cinema

Join film scholar Victor Fan as he critically engages in Hong Kong Independent Cinema within the digital media ecology. His online talk on 4 February 2022  locates Hong Kong cinema and media within the public sphere and presents a new mode of existence for independent cinema. Free with registration. 

Panelists (L-R) : Sudarat Musikawong, Raymond Phathanavirangoon, Thaiddhi

Theory/Praxis/Politics: Inter-Asian Forum on Film Censorship

Held on 1 February 2022, this virtual roundtable discussion between academics, filmmakers, programmers and other stakeholders explores the complex practices and experiences of censorship in the distribution and production of cinema across Asia. This webinar series is free with registration.

Image still from Aristocrats (2020, dir. Yukiko Sode)

Japanese Film Festival Online 2022 

Held virtually for free in 25 countries, the Japanese Film Festival Online 2022 will screen 20 films—feature and documentary, new releases and classics—from 14 to 27 February 2022. Amongst these films are Yukiko Sode’s Aristocrats (2020), Shuichi Okita’s The Chef of South Polar (2009) and Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950). 

Kung Saan Man Tayo (Wherever We May Be) (2021) Virtual Film Screening and Panel Discussion

From 4 February 2022 to 9 February 2022, Kung Saan Man Tayo (Wherever We May Be) (2021) will be screened virtually via Vimeo accessible for free on UH Center for Southeast Asian Studies’s website. Catch the panel discussion with the filmmakers Adrian Alarilla and Kenneth Cardenas on 9 February 2022. Free with registration.

In the Same Breath (2021) Virtual Screening and Discussion with Filmmaker 

New York University Center for Media, Culture and History presents a virtual screening of In the Same Breath (2021) followed by a discussion with the film’s director Nanfu Wang and film scholar Zhang Zhen on 11 February 2022. Free with registration.

Film Quarterly Webinar: The Resilient Spring of Arab Cinema, Ten Years After

Culminating from their latest dossier, Film Quarterly presents a webinar discussion focused on the pivotal works of Arab cinema since 2011. Catch it on 24 February 2022 free with registration


Bali Film Festival: Call for Submissions

The Balinale is now accepting submissions for narrative or documentary feature and short films of any medium from any country. Learn more about the submission criteria here. The official deadline is on 28 February 2022.

This edition of the digest was compiled by Jolie Fan

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