Asian Cinema Digest #6

This month the Asian Film Archive presents a new slate of programmes!  At Oldham Theatre, we will be hosting Singular Screens, an international film selection, curated for the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2020. Making its online debut on our Youtube channel will be Roxlee’s Juan Gapang (1986), digitised from the AFA collection. 

For this edition of the digest, we are featuring Malaysia’s SeaShorts Film Festival and Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival and the innovative approaches they are adopting to connect with audiences. Other highlights include, reviews of contemporary films such as Taghi Amirani’s Coup 53 (2019) and Hu Jie’s Spark (2013–19) alongside more long-form writings on filmmakers such as Takashi Miike, Uri Zohar and Mehrdad Oskoue.


Singular Screens 2020

Curated by the Asian Film Archive for the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2020, Singular Screens is a celebration of diverse, independent and singular cinematic visions from around the world. 

Happening from 3 September – 3 October 2020, theatrical screenings will be held at Oldham Theatre and selected films will be available through Video on Demand (VOD). 

From the Asian Film Archive Collection: Juan Gapang (Johnny Crawl) (1986)  

A performance project and urban intervention by Roque Federizon Lee (better known as Roxlee), an icon of the Philippine underground cinema.

Digitised by the AFA in 2018 from the sole surviving Super 8mm print, the film is now freely available for viewing until 1 November 2020.

Early Animation from the National Film Archive of Japan (NFAJ) 

Established in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese animation, the website has a collection of more than 60 short films that date back to as early as 1917. 

SeaShorts Film Festival 2020

Now in its third year, SeaShorts is a programme of curated Southeast Asian short films, forums and masterclasses. Originally planned to take place in Ipoh, Malaysia, from 12- 20 September 2020, this year’s festival will be entirely online. Festival passes are priced at $10 USD each. 

The Tree House (2019, Trương Minh Quý)

MUBI: Festival Focus – Locarno Film Festival

Launched to coincide with the 2020 edition of the Locarno Film Festival, this series contains highlights from the festival’s 2019 programme including Asian films such as The Tree House by Trương Minh Quý (Vietnam), Yara by Abbas Fahdel (Lebanon) and Dead Horse Nebula by Tarık Aktaş (Turkey)

Locarno Film Festival 2020: The Films After Tomorrow

For the 2020 edition, the festival conceived of a special awards section dedicated to support filmmakers whose productions came to a halt due to the pandemic.

Projects from Asian filmmakers, Wang Bing, Lav Diaz, Miko Revereza were among those selected. More information, as well as clips and interviews by the filmmakers are available for viewing. 

Last Year When the Train Passed By (2018, Huang Pang Chun)

Huang Pang-chuan: A Double Bill

MUBI presents this special double bill of two recent short films by an up-and-coming voice in Taiwanese avant-garde cinema. 

A Morning in Taipei (1964, Pai Ching-Jiu)

Taiwanese Avant-garde Short Films from the 1960s 

A curated selection by DA Films of 16 works that were part of a series presented by the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival in 2018. 

Short Film: The Pitch

A co-production by theatre companies, Pangdemonium, Singapore Repertory Theatre & WILD RICE, The Pitch is a new short film by director Ken Kwek that aims to shine a light on the complex challenges facing arts companies in Singapore during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Essays on Yasujirō Ozu

A dossier on Ozu by video essay producers Filmscalpel

West Love (2020, Reza Fahriyansyah and Annisa Adjam)

Objectifs Short Film Incubator 2020: Public Programmes

As part of a new mentorship and development initiative by Objectifs for selected Southeast Asia filmmakers, there will be public lectures, screenings and discussions happening from 3 – 21 September 2020. 

Masterclass with Rithy Panh

Presented by the Sarajevo Film Festival and moderated by Variety, Cambodian documentarian Rithy Panh discussed his newest film, Irradiated


Abyss Ahead: Howard Hampton on Hu Jie’s Spark (2013–19)

A review of a documentary about a group of dissident intellectuals in China in the 1950s and 1960s.

Plot Twist: Amy Taubin on Taghi Amirani’s Coup 53 (2019)

An article on a documentary that details the untold story of a CIA and MI6-led coup in 1953 in Iran that overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh. 

Bringing Up Baby: Hosoda Mamoru on Mirai

An interview with the acclaimed Japanese director on his most recent coming-of-age anime feature film.

Masaki Kobayashi Plays Hardball

A deep dive into the Japanese baseball drama I Will Buy You from 1956. 

Miss Andy (2020, Lee Lee-zen)

Queer Southeast Asian Films

Three listicles that highlight key works of contemporary queer cinema from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand

Sunless Shadows (2019, Mehrdad Oskouei)

Mehrdad Oskouei Gives Voices to the Voiceless

An appraisal of renowned contemporary Iranian documentarian Mehrdad Oskouei. 

Three Days and a Child (1966, Uri Zohar)

Uri Zohar: The Inventor of Modern Israeli Cinema

Uri Zohar, the main figure of the influential 1960s New Sensibility film movement in Israel, is the subject of this accompanying piece to a retrospective series by MUBI in France that concludes in October 2020. 

Nainsukh (2019, Amit Dutta)

Wait, Look: Amit Dutta’s Cinematic Rhythm

A treatise on Indian experimental filmmaker Amit Dutta, whose works are screening as part of a retrospective programme by MUBI in India in the summer and autumn of 2020. 

Takashi Miike accepting the Honorary Award at the 2019 Singapore International Film Festival

Another Decade with Takashi Miike

A series of essays on the 2010s films of Takashi Miike, following an earlier series that focused on his films in the 2000s. 

The Forgotten Child: A Profile of James Hong in Present Day Los Angeles

The prolific Asian-American character actor discusses family, his career, his foray into direction, and the racism of the film industry.

A Million Years (2018, Danech San)

Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas (ASEAC) Interviews

An ongoing online project that collects and shares interviews with film and video practitioners working in Southeast Asia. The project developed as an extension of the work of the Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas (ASEAC), a collective of academics, filmmakers, programmers, critics, archivists, students, and other film enthusiasts based in the region.

Academic Research on Indonesian Cinema

Jakarta-based film critic Eric Sasano’s compilation of scholarly works accompanied by abridged abstracts. 

Japonisme and the Birth of Cinema

Published by Duke University Press and written by film academic Daisuke Miyao (The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema), this book explores the influence of Japanese art on the development of early cinematic visual style, particularly the actualité films made by the Lumière brothers between 1895 and 1905.

Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City

Published by Columbia University Press, film historian and media theorist, Debashree Mukherjee presents an ambitious account of Indian cinema as a history of material practice, bringing new insights to studies of media, modernity, and the late colonial city.

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