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In Focus: Southeast Asian Films You Need To Check Out This Weekend

In Focus: Southeast Asian Films You Need To Check Out This Weekend


By Elijah Celemen
Chalk Campus Correspondent

This year is the celebration of the film industry in the Philippines. With various film festivals everywhere, there's no way we can miss out on the latest flicks that will hit the big screen. 

This year, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts celebrates its first film festival with Tingin ASEAN Film Festival which will feature entries from the South-East Asia region. 

With 10 films from the official selection and 4 films from the "Tastemakers" selection, a diverse and multicultural array of movies will be featured in this five-day celebration which runs until October 15 at Shangri-La Plaza. Read through for a peek of the movies that will be showing!

1. Waris (Brunei)

It has been a year since Pak Suparto disappeared. His mansion has long been empty, and is said to be haunted by restless spirits. Foolhardy Fuat decides to move in to confirm if the rumours are true. He will soon find out the answers to this mystery – where could Pak Suparto be?

2. Solo, Solitude (Indonesia)

A lyrical evocation of life in internal exile under dictatorship, "Istirahatlah kata-kata" ("Solo, Solitude") is based on the last-known events of the life of influential Indonesian poet and activist Wiji Thukul who was forced to leave his family after being targeted by the government following anti-Suharto, pro-democracy protests in July 1997.

3. Wayang (Malaysia)

Master puppeteer Awang Lah becomes an uneasy teacher to Melor and the blind orphan Awi. All grown up, Awi's innovative ways of telling the tales of Ramayana are well received by his audience – but not by Awang, who believes that the traditional wayang kulit performance is sacred. Love begins to bloom between Awi and Melor but Jusoh, who has an eye for Melor, attempts to break them apart. Their lives change when Awang collapses during a wayang kulit performance. Can Awi and Melor revive this dying art?

4.  Khuan Nang (Lao PDR)

A woman named Khuan Nang becomes separated from her lover, and tries to deal with her grief and heartbreak.

5. Ang Damgo ni Eluteria Kirchbaum (Philippines)

Damgo, the Cebuano word for "dream," reflects the situation of the film's protagonist Terya, a simple island girl who is about to leave her home to marry a foreigner. As she asks whether or not she should go, Terya is pressured by the people around her whose own dreams depend on her departure. Set in the scenic Olango Island in the midst of the Baliw-Baliw (“Crazy-Crazy”) festival, the film captures Terya and her state of mind as she walks towards her destiny. Along the way, a chain of events and new characters influence the young woman’s decision to stay or to leave. This film is shot in a single take.

6. Ilo-ilo (Singapore)

Set in Singapore in the year 1997, "Ilo-Ilo" chronicles the relationship between the Lim family and their newly arrived maid, Teresa. Like many other Filipino women, she has come to this city in search of a better life. Her presence in the family worsens its members’ already strained relationship. Jiale, the young and troublesome son, starts to form a unique bond with Teresa, who soon becomes an unspoken part of the clan. The family drama unfolds as the Asian Financial Crisis looms in the region.

7. The Island Funeral (Thailand)

Laila decides to take a road trip from Bangkok to Pattani to visit their long-lost aunt. Her brother and his friend are tagging along. The three take off from Bangkok at a time when the capital is brimming with radical conflict among different political ideologies. As city-dwellers sheltered from the political heat south, the three are oblivious to the instability and violent outbreaks that have plagued Pattani for many years. After meeting a suspicious young soldier sent to fight the insurgents, the four head together to find Laila’s aunt, where the route leads them to discover a land stranger than what they are familiar with.

8. Yellow Flowers on the the Green Grass (Vietnam)

A small village in South Central Vietnam in the mid-1980s is the backdrop for the conflict-riddled, coming of age story of twelve-year-old Thieu and his eight-year-old younger brother Tuong. Tuong idolizes his older brother’s confidence and constantly strives for his approval. But in reality, Thieu only built an armor of overconfidence to compensate for his overwhelming insecurities. Thieu is constantly jealous of his younger brother, always competing with him for grades, talents, and the affection of Moon.


9. Kayan Bauties (Myanmar)

Three Kayan women travel from their remote village to sell handicrafts in a distant city in Myanmar. They are accompanied by a Kayan girl, who has just had the tribe's decorative, heavy brass coil rings placed around her neck. In the city, the girl is kidnapped by human traffickers. Far from home and out of their element, the Kayan women risk their lives on a desperate search for their young companion.

10. Victim (Cambodia)

Seyla is a beautiful and calm primary school teacher and has a fiancé who is a journalist. Seyla fights for justice for her student Samin, who was raped by her stepfather. Unfortunately, just one month before her wedding day, Seyla herself, is raped in an ambush. She tries to keep this secret from her fiancé. But nothing remains a secret, and at last, her fiancé learns about this. Will her fiancé accept this truth? Who raped Seyla?


Tastemaker's Selection

A Yellow Bird 

Siva, a Singaporean-Indian man, is released after serving his sentence for contraband smuggling. Unable to find forgiveness from his mother, he begins a quest to locate his ex-wife and daughter. Just as he finds solace and hope in the company of an illegal Chinese prostitute, he is confronted with an unbearable truth about his family. How far will Siva go to redeem himself?

Golden Slumbers

Discover the unknown history of the birth and destruction of Cambodian cinema, from the first film ever made in 1960 to the arrival of the Khmer Rouges in 1975. In 15 years, about 400 films were produced. Only 30 films remain today. Almost all the actors were killed during the Khmer Rouges regime and only a few of the directors were able to flee the country. Most of the old movie theaters of Phnom Penh have become restaurants, karaoke places, or squats. With a few of the survivors telling their stories, "Golden Slumbers" tries to bring the myths and legends of this lost cinema back to life.

Dearest Sister

A Lao village girl travels to Vientiane to care for her rich cousin who has mysteriously lost her sight and somehow gained the ability to communicate with the dead. Matters are further complicated by the cousin’s ambivalent marriage to an Estonian expat who has his own dark secrets to hide.


A surprise sleeper hit in Malaysia, first-time director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal channels the spirit  of Satyajit Ray in this coming-of-age story about a boy growing up in a community of Tamil immigrants in Malaysia during the 1990s. The film introduces us to Appoy, a spirited kid who would rather watch gangster flicks and make prank calls than memorize his multiplication tables. Desperately trying to keep his son on the straight path, Appoy's hard-working father becomes  increasingly abusive as the boy is inexorably drawn to the criminal lifestyle of his uncle, a  henchman for a local Malaysian gang. (Synopsis adapted  from New York Asian Film Festival)


Found something that sparked your interest? Don't miss out further and check out the schedule below!



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 Banner Photography from Tingin ASEAN Film Festival





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