Australia’s only showcase dedicated to the cinema of our own region returns, with a 2012 Regional Intersections selection offering Australian and Canberra premieres of some of the best from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indochina. And this year’s program also especially notes the re-emergence of strong new films from Indonesia. Now catching up to the filmmaking new waves that have already drawn international attention to Thai and Pinoy cinema, this new ‘parallel’ Indonesian movie making is showing a craft in striking balances between social concerns, film art and what’s just great in its current popular and genre cinema. Intriguing is the emergence of a sub-cycle of films bringing Jakarta’s modern GLBT community up from the subterranean and celebrating its humanity – as well as its dance moves. Especially intriguing is how this sits side by side with another movement: Indonesian filmmakers confronting the rise of mass Islamic fundamentalist organisations, and exploring their context in social, gender and ethnic inequity.
Beside this, the region’s other cinemas are still going strong, and in some ways maturing. The Thai transcendent style pioneered by Apichatpong Weersthakul has reached the point where it can add some fascinatingly Hitchcockian aspects to its mysteries. Philippine digital cinema is now able to wickedly satirise its own moral seriousness. And Malaysian new wave elder James Lee is now manufacturing Shaw Brother-style action cinema at a speed not far short of the old classic Asian film studios.
Part of this maturation is a growing interest in regional cinema heritage. Davy Chou’s history of pre-Khmer Rogue pop cinema of Cambodia, Golden Slumbers, has been an international film festival hit – and has 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, and the restoration of a national classic, Usmar Ismail’s milestone 1954 feature After the Curfew; a project that’s led to that rare and special thing: box office success for a ‘classic’ re-release.
Regional Intersections is presented in association with The Australian National University, with thanks to the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.
Thanks to: Dr. Gaik Khoo, Dr. Amrih Wadodo, Dr Ariel Heryanto, Prof. Brij V. Lal, Prof. Ken George, Prof. Peter Jackson (ANU); Film Distribution; Ferdinand Lapuz (Ignatius Films); Gita Fara, Garan Nugroho (SET Film Production); Pascale Ramonda (RAMONDA Films); Bao Mai Nguyen (Vietnam Media Corporation); Fortissimo Films; Karuna Pictures; Banphot Wudhiprecha (Jaikao Film); Kalyana Shira Films; Daniel Rudi Haryanto; James Lee (Doghouse73 Pictures); Astro Cathy Pictures.
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