Regional Intersections: New Southeast Asian Cinema at Arc

The Woman in the Septic Tank

Australia’s only film showcase dedicated to the cinema of our own region returns for its 2012 edition, screening at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Arc Cinema.

Regional Intersection’s new edition offers Australian and Canberra premieres of some of the best from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indochina. This year’s program especially notes the re-emergence of strong new films from Indonesia.

Indonesia’s independent cinema is now catching up to the filmmaking new waves that have already drawn international attention to Thai and Filipino cinema. This filmmaking strikes a balance between social concerns, fine Asian cinema art and what’s just great in Indonesia’s current popular and genre cinema.

Regional Intersections opens on Thursday 13 September at 7pm with the new Philippine film The Woman in the Septic Tank, showing filmmakers are sometimes able to laugh at the sometimes overly serious concern with social justice issues that dominate its new wave of digital filmmaking.

In 2012, the festival especially acknowledges the emergence of a sub-cycle of films that tell stories from Jakarta’s modern GLBT community, such as Lovely Man and Madame X.

Indonesian filmmakers are also confronting the rise of mass Islamic fundamentalist organisations. Daniel Rudi Hayanto’s controversial documentary Prison and Paradise will gives a very different, local perspective on the 2002 Bali bombings.

Regional Intersections continues to note the maturing of the region’s other cinemas. New cinema from Thailand follows the ‘transcendent’ style pioneered by Cannes Film Festival award-winner Apichatpong Weersthakul. But a film such as P-047 adds some very Hitchcokian elements to distinct and often intriguingly mysterious Thai filmmaking.

Malaysian new wave pioneer James Lee – who previously made some of the more surreal films of that nation’s cinema new wave of the early 2000s – is also changing his filmmaking approach. His new film, The Collector partially pays tribute to the heritage of Malay cinema, with homage to the Shaw Brothers action movies once produced for Malay audiences in Singapore in the 1950s and 60s.

Filmmakers are showing a growing interest in the region’s cinema heritage. Davy Chou’s history of the pre-Khmer Rogue pop cinema of Cambodia, Golden Slumbers, has been an international film festival hit, that’s led to new attempts to locate and preserve what’s survived from this vanished cinema heritage.

The new Indonesian cinema has also provoked an interest in its own screen heritage. A new restoration of an Indonesian cinema classic, Usmar Ismail’s 1954 After the Curfew will have its Australian premiere at Regional Intersections. Restored in collaboration with the Martin Scorsese-backed World Cinema Foundation, After the Curfew has had surprising box office success in Indonesian commercial cinemas.

Regional Intersections is presented in association with the Australian National University, with thanks to the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

All films are unclassified 18+; those under 18 years of age cannot be admitted under Australian law.


For interviews, contact David Hogan on 02 6248 2002 or