A familiar siren of the civil defence drill blasts through the rain-falling neighbourhood of Busan’s Beomjeon-dong. Then comes a light breeze, which may have come from the train running across the Donghae Nambu Railroad, or from the meadows of Camp Hialeah. The mysterious breeze passes through the abandoned Dolchool Village, and then the Red Alleyway until it vanishes to a great ‘roar’.
‘Aragane’ is a Japanese word for small pieces of coal or stone excavated from a mine. The mine that I filmed in Bosnia bears this name. I found the mine while location scouting for another film. I was attracted to the place, the people, and the sheer amount of physical labour done under harsh circumstances in eight-hour shifts every day under the ground.
Cities of Sleep takes us into a heady world of insurgent sleeper’s communities as well as the infamous ‘sleep mafia’ in Delhi where securing a safe sleeping spot often becomes a question of life and death for many people. The film trails the lives of Shakeel, a renegade homeless who has slept in a diverse range of improvised places, and Ranjeet, who runs the ‘sleep-cinema’ community.
Yibu SUGAN lost his father when he was young. He nearly died elsewhere before returning home to live with his mother. With the arrival of volunteer teachers, he is pleased to see the village children get the education they need. He also attends the classes occasionally. Electricity became available in the village in 2012. With TV, he has a new way to learn more about the outside world.
KOGURE and his wife moved from Tokyo to snowy rural Japan. When they restore an abandoned paddy, they excavate an old irrigation system, which connects them with the lost ways of rural life. It is one of the serendipitous moments that make everything worthwhile for them. With the arrival of winter, the whole village is frozen over, but KOGURE and company know how to enjoy life.
A middle-aged man, whose ancestor was the first hero of an ancient Iranian town two hundred years ago, had a dream of his ancestor asking him to find the cloak he lost to his opponent in his last wrestling match and to restore the family’s honour. A street performer of heroic acts, the man has been looking for the trace of his ancestor's cloak in near and far villages for three years.
This film is composed of black and white images from the sombre depths of Manila’s Sta. Mesa district, which are juxtaposed in the railroad that metaphorically connects the lives of each individual in the community. Captured by a single camera and a keen eye, each moving picture is accompanied by stories of grief, misery, hope and inspiration.
For over sixty years, different ethnic armed groups in Myanmar’s Kayah State have been fighting the Burmese Army in a civil war for freedom and independence. A group of war veterans have opened an artificial leg workshop near the city of Loikaw, constructing a hundred legs per year for fellow veterans with the same stroke of fate - regardless of which side of the conflict they were on.
An out-of-school Subanen boy named Dondon went to Sitio Tangalan in the barangay of Kawayan to work in a rubber plantation. At a tender age, he was already exposed to hardship and toil being a son to a seasonal harvester. This is a coming-of-age story, the contractual farm workers’ saga, the fisherfolks’ way of life and everything in between told in a free-flowing yet melancholic manner.
For more than three years, the director filmed the making of a section of a highway through a quiet village in Hunan, a province in central China where Chairman MAO was born. Local villagers and temples are forced to move and migrant workers endure very difficult working conditions, while the management of the construction company wants their share of the financial apple.
Selected from the 490 submissions from all over Asia, fifteen documentaries are shortlisted in the final. The diversity of different backgrounds is represented in the various issues and cultural experiences covered in these nominated films. And this diversity is exactly the charm of documentary filmmaking. The category of Asian documentary is like a spinning swirl, stirring different ways of seeing in the representation of so-called reality.