Seven films from Asean nations explore critical issues in each of the countries
Seven critically-acclaimed films from seven countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) find their way to Bangkok this month for the SAC Asean Film Festival 2017 running at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC) from tomorrow until Wednesday.
In operation since 2012, the SAC festival is a cultural exchange forum for Thailand’s Asean neighbours. From an anthropological point of view, films are considered “cultural media” that help people examine and understand culture and society.
As the Asean bloc turns 50, this year’s event is looking back at the development of Asean through the challenges and hardships, to understand the progress of the Asean community from both the social and cultural viewpoints, and also looking ahead to lay the groundwork for the multiplicity that comes with being a true “Asean citizen”.
The seven films from Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia cover multiple dimensions, including socio-culturalism, economics and history.
This film festival kicks off tomorrow evening at 5 with Vietnamese director Rony Hoa’s “Forever Yours”, a romantic drama centred on the complex relationship between three men.
On Sunday, filmgoers can take in three movies: Singapore’s “Long Long Time Ago Part I” at 10am, Indonesia’s “Ziarah: Tales of the Otherwords” at 4pm, and Cambodia’s “Dreamland” at 6pm.
Directed by Jack Neo, “Long Long Time Ago” follows the trials and tribulations of a family from 1965 to the early 1970s. Their journey through the years from their humble kampong to a modern HDB flat, runs in parallel with Singapore’s early growth. On August 9, 1965, Zhao Di is driven from her husband’s home. The same night, she gives birth to twins, Shun Fatt and Sumei. Unfortunately, Sumei is born with two moles on her face – a sign of misfortune and under pressure from her family, Zhao Di is forced to give Sumei away. This is only the first of many challenges, but with Zhao Di’s indomitable spirit, the family witnesses every step of the nation’s growth.
Directed by BW Purba Negara, “Ziarah” focuses on elderly Mbah Sri’s journey through valleys, mountains, hills and villages. In her long quest to find her husband’s grave, she will meet people who are talking about their land, those who struggle for their land, and those who are displaced from their own lands.
Directed by Steve Chen, “Dreamland” is centred on Lida, a career-driven woman in her late 20s in the developing metropolis of Phnom Penh, who is selling modern and upscale real estate developments to the growing and upper class in contemporary Cambodia. Lida may be thriving as a top real estate agent, but in her personal life, her relationship with her photographer boyfriend is deteriorating. Knowing she has to get away, she travels to the quite beach town of Kep with her close companions. While the growth and modernisation of the city promote an urban and cultural erasure, Kep reveals treasures from Cambodia’s heritage. It is there that Lida discovers that the spectres from the past haunt in sublime and beautiful ways.
Malaysian director Shanjey Kumar Perumal’s “Jagat” screens on Monday at 5pm. It is set in the early 1990s, a critical period in Malaysian Indian history. The story subtly underlines the plight of the Malaysian Indian. Forsaken by the estate owners who had employed them for generations and systematically marginalised, they are forced to move to the cities and survive under harsh circumstances. Left out of the nation’s urbanisation and development plans, many live in squatters and work at minimum wage jobs. The plot centres on bright but mischievous Appoy, 12, and his relationship with his father, Maniam and his uncles, Bala (an ex drug addict) and Dorai (Mexico) a local gangster.
Brillante Mendoza’s “Ma Rosa” screens on Tuesday. Rosa owns a small community convenience store connected to her home in the slums of Metropolitan Manila from where she trades in narcotics. Their fate changes when their neighbour sets them up for a police raid leading to the couple’s arrest and a ploy for extortion. Backed against the wall, Rosa seeks help from her children, Jackson, Raquel and Kerwin as they try to buy their parent’s freedom.
The festival closes with “The Road to Mandalay” by director Mediz from Myanmar, a tale of the human traffickers who have a well-established route: from Burma into Thailand across the Mekong River at Tchilek, along quiet country roads, passing bribed police checkpoints and into Bangkok, where the illegal migrants are on their own. Lianqing is one of five illegals who travels this route one summer night in 2013; along the way a fellow migrant called Guo is kind to her, and their fates later become entwined. Once in Thailand, Lianqing finds jobs, saves money and finds out where to buy fake identity papers with the hope of making it to Taiwan. But Guo has different ambitions.
- Find out more at (02) 880 9429 or visit www.SAC.or.th/en/.