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Southeast Asia

After the Curfew (1954)
Usmar Ismail
Indonesia
103′
A little-known, passionate tale of a revolutionary hero returning to civilian life after the liberation from Dutch colonial rule that took top honours at Indonesia’s Citra Film Awards, 1955. Lewat Djam Malam (After the Curfew) is a passionate work looking directly at a crucial moment of conflict in Indonesian history: the aftermath of the four-year Republican revolution which brought an end to Dutch rule. This is a visually and dramatically potent film about anger and disillusionment, about the dream of a new society cheapened and misshapen by government repression on the one hand and bourgeois complacency on the other. The film’s director, Usmar Ismail, is generally considered to be the father of Indonesian cinema, and his entire body of work was directly engaged with ongoing evolution of Indonesian society. He began as a playwright and founder of Maya, a drama collective that began during the years of Japanese occupation. And it was during this period when Ismail developed an interest in filmmaking. He began making films for Andjar Asmara in the late 40s and then started Perfini (Perusahaan Film Nasional Indonesian) in 1950, which he considered his real beginning as a filmmaker. Lewat Djam Malam, a co-production between Perfini and Djamaluddin Malik’s company Persari, was perhaps Ismail’s greatest critical and commercial success.
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Golden Slumbers (2012)
Davy Chou
Cambodia
100′
A nocturnal drive along a rural highway into a city at dawn that is somehow moving in the wrong direction. It is only after a while that you notice that the vehicles are travelling backwards, receding back into the dusk of reality. This mysterious metaphor forms the starting point for a journey into the unknown history of Cambodian film. Nearly 400 films were made in Phnom Penh between 1960 and 1975, only 30 of which survive today. The Khmer Rouge burnt them or allowed them to decay along with many of the country’s studios and cinemas. Most of those involved in the film industry became victims of the genocide. Director Davy Chou, the grandson of one of the most important film producers of the Golden Age’ of Cambodian cinema, uses his film to reconstruct the country’s cinematographic legacy. He goes about his work like an archaeologist, recognising how impossi- ble it is to actually speak to survivors about a life’s work destroyed but not forgotten. LE SOMMEIL D’OR undertakes a painstaking search for fragments of memory in the present, whether in the form of lobby cards, songs on YouTube or a visit to a karaoke bar housed in what used to be a film studio, and gradually coalesces into a strikingly vibrant memorial.
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Ramen Shop (2018)
Eric Khoo
Singapore
90′
Masato, a young ramen chef, leaves his hometown in Japan to embark on a culinary journey to Singapore to find out the truth about his past. He uncovers a lot more than family secrets and delicious recipes.
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Tatsumi (2011)
Eric Khoo
Singapore
96′
Tatsumi celebrates the life of Japanese comic artist, Yoshihiro Tatsumi. As he becomes successful, he redefines the manga landscape with an alternative genre for adults-and his work plunges into the darker aspects of life.
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The Orator (2011)
Tusi Tamasese
Samoa
110′
While The Orator's status as Samoa's first feature film makes it a native landmark, writer/director Tusi Tamasese's deft command of atmospherics, tone, and rhythm transforms it into a genuinely noteworthy achievement. Primarily employing first-time actors to bring this delicately wrought tale to life, Tamasese centers his film on Saili (Fiaula Sagote), a diminutive pariah who lives with his wife Vaaiga and her wilful daughter at the outskirts of a remote jungle village. When Vaaiga's estranged family suddenly demands her return, Saili must settle the dispute through the Samoan tradition of oration. While frequent silent passages lend The Orator a meditative air, they also offer an opportunity to admire the resplendent cinematography of Leon Narbey (Whale Rider) and the subtlety with which Sagote evinces his character's remarkable transformation. Scene by scene, we witness a sense of self-worth being instilled in Saili, lending him the resilience necessary to fight for what he holds most dear. And when the climactic war of words erupts, we find ourselves hanging on every heartfelt word that leaves his lips.
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Woman in the Septic Tank (2012)
Marlon N. Rivera
Philippines
87′
As far as their film school final project is concerned, these three students have only one goal in mind - international fame, including Oscars and festival prizes. They know what foreign audiences expect from Philippine cinema - prostitution, abuse, rubbish tips and slums - and apply this magic formula to develop the ultimate in misery porn. A mother, battered by life, sells her child to a sex tourist; a story as harsh and realistic as it is rousingly emotional. The only thing missing is a big-name star, but famous actresses can be such divas... ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK is the most successful independent film in the history of Philippine cinema, and a rare example of an intelligent film-within-a-film plot that takes an illuminating behind-thescenes look at filmmaking. Highly entertaining and hugely self-deprecating, this comedy draws on ingrained clichés in order to shamelessly exploit them. In addition, the sophisticated dramatic structure allows leading lady Eugene Domingo, a Filipino movie star in real life, to deliver an exceptional performance, at once touching and wildly funny.
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