Di is a 12-year-old girl living in a village in the mist of Northwest Vietnamese mountains. She belongs to the Hmong ethnic minority where women get married very young, enduring the controversial tradition of 'bride-kidnapping'. When Di enters puberty, the carefree little girl has turned into an impetuous, hypersensitive teenager. On the Lunar New Year's Eve, when Di's parents come back home after celebrating, the house is silent and empty: Di has disappeared.
One risked rushing against raging waves to escape being involved in the Cultural Revolution; one resisted colonialism and was imprisoned due to participating in printing patriotic periodicals; one supported the students' demands for freedom, only to see their dreams and bodies crushed by tank treads. The past is presented in fictional scenes, with today’s activists playing those of yesteryear, as their scarred memories and experiences become more tangled than ever.
Odoriko are dancers of the dying art of Japanese strip theatre. Once a popular form of entertainment, today all but 20 strip clubs have closed nationwide. Like dancers' bodies disappearing into darkness when the stage spotlight dims at a show's end, the future of the strip theatre seems destined to follow. Deliberately filmed on mini-DV tape in an archaic frame ratio, this is a poignant and artful portrait of a vanishing culture behind the curtains.
Since 2009, the filmmaker has spent 12 years documenting the ever-changing times of three townships along the coast of Tainan County, namely Beimen, Jiangjun and Qigu. Through the lenses, human activities are seen closely connected with the surrounding nature, while maintaining its own charm. The film subtly captures a singular way of life and a sense of time suspended in the past, present and future.
As a part of a discussion on memory and detemporality, this work comes in another 3-channel video installation as further dialogue with this single-channel video.
L, a university student in India, writes letters to her estranged lover, while he is away. Through these letters, we get a glimpse into the drastic changes taking place around her. Merging reality with dreams, memories, fantasies and anxieties, an amorphous narrative unfolds.
In the town where the filmmaker was born, he and his family are following an age-old tradition by building a tomb for his grandparents. This carefully composed portrait of a village, interspersed with scenes of people at work, personal memories, and philosophical reflections, gradually unveils the spiritual world of the hometown and offers a meditation on existence itself.
Resisting the westernised reliance on images for creating narratives and experiencing the world, the film turns to music and sound as a way of perceiving through listening. While observing the loss of land and traditional ways of living, this aurally centred film reflects on the past, present and future of indigenous cultures of the people in Vietnam's Central Highlands.
Somi and her husband are striving to build a new life after fighting for a decade alongside the Naxalites, a Maoist guerrilla group from India. In the aftermath of surrendering to the police, the couple is struggling to safeguard their children's future through education. But the central government, they once fought against, seems to deny them a future and redemption.
More than a million South Koreans died during the Korean War and the full extent of the atrocities committed during the war remains unknown to this day. In 2005, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) uncovered 168 massacres, but by 2010, the commission was shut down. Haunted by the unsolved murders, these former investigators and the bereaved families restarted a project at various areas to uncover the truth on their own.
The district of Yarmouk in Syria sheltered the biggest Palestinian refugee camp in the world from 1957 to 2018. When the Syrian revolution broke out, the regime saw Yarmouk as a refuge of rebels and has set up a siege since 2013. Gradually deprived of food, medicine and electricity, the besieged inhabitants decided to face the siege with rallying, study, music, love and joy.
Light and shadow interweave into diverse culturescapes. They are together and apart, in war and in peace, intimate but also alienated. Whilst you stand on the viewpoint of an island, don't forget to cast a caring eye on the lesser known territories (including the extraterrestrial!). Ideas of Asia and Asian perspectives gradually emerge amongst the 761 submissions this year, and each of the 15 selected titles shines like a hidden gem.