2nd ASEAN film fest offerings range from thrillers to romance

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FOLLOWING a successful first run last year, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) ASEAN Tingin Film Festival returns for a second a year and presents a selection of films from ASEAN countries and Taiwan, running until Nov. 29 at the Gateway Cineplex in Cubao, Quezon City.

“This festival will once again encourage meaningful discussions and collaborations with our colleagues and friends in Southeast Asia. In this Post-Truth era where fake news is threatening to become the norm, the stories we tell each other (through film) may be perhaps our best and most effective line of defense,” Teddy O. Co, NCCA commissioner for the arts and the head of the subcommission on the arts, said in a press release.

Among the films included in this year’s festival is Dain Said’s Dukun (2018) from Malaysia, a legal horror-thriller loosely based on the true story of the gruesome murder of a former Malaysian politician by a once mildly popular Malaysian singer-turned-witch doctor who was convicted in 1993.

Also in this year’s lineup are two films by Filipino director and newly minted National Artist for Film Kidlat Tahimik — Perfumed Nightmare (1979), about a jeepney driver who rejects the rapid encroachment of technology coupled with a fascination with the US Space Program, and Who Invented the Yoyo, Who Invented the Moon Buggy (1982) which is a spiritual successor about the fascination with going to space.

Aside from presenting his two films, the festival will also feature a lecture, “The Art of Kidlat Tahimik,” on Nov. 28.

The Philippine documentary Yield (2018), directed by Victor Tagaro and Toshihiko Uryu, which documents lives of nine children living in dire Third World conditions, also made its way to the festival and is to be screened on Nov. 27. Mr. Tagaro will also be holding a master class before his film is screened.

From Indonesia comes A Copy of My Mind (2015) by Joko Anwar, which tells the story of a cheap salon worker and a pirated DVD subtitle maker falling in love amidst turbulent presidential elections in Indonesia.

Lao PDR’s Vientiane in Love (2014) by Anysay Keola, Xaisongkham Induangchanthy, Phanumad Disattha, and Vannaphone Sitthirath is an anthology of five love stories in various forms.

From Myanmar comes The Monk (2014) by Maw Naing Aung and The Maw Naing which tells the story of a youth who enters a monastery in the hope of understanding how he wants to live his life.

The Singaporean film Hush (2010), by Jeremiah Oh, follows a woman who is unsure of her sexuality who navigates life feeling trapped by her passions and morals, her family, and her friends.

Another documentary, this time from Thailand, is Homogenous, Empty Time (2017) by Thunska Pansittivorakul and Harit Srikhao. It explores the spread of nationalism to try to discover what foundation the country is built upon.

The Vietnamese film Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories (2015) by Phan Dang Di tells the story of a photography student who, armed with a camera given to him by his father, discovers the seedier part of Saigon and his sexuality.

Finally, a film from Taiwan, The Road to Mandalay (2016) by Midi Z, follows a young Burmese girl headed to Bangkok to pursue a better life who takes a detour and ends up in Taiwan while searching for better opportunities. The film premiered at the 73rd edition of the Venice Film Festival where it took the Fedeora Award for Best Film.

The ASEAN Tingin Film Festival runs until Nov. 29 at the Gateway Cineplex in Cubao, Quezon City. For more information and screening schedule, visit the festival’s Facebook page. — ZBC