ShoutOUT! Revisit Asian Politics On Screen with Asian Film Archive's 'Poetic Justice'

There is no denying that politics is a tricky business, and the business of putting it on screens, while being à la mode, is even trickier business. Gone however, are the days where politics are handled ham-fisted and bungling - the modern cine-politics are sleek machines that operate between shades of gray and dip into the pool of quintessential human darkness without quite losing its heart.

Under the mantle of the Asian Film Archive's 'Reframe' series, Poetic Justice: Personalising Politics on Screen presents a selection of 4 contemporary Southeast Asian features and 3 short films centered around the themes of filmmaking and the act of exploring political history,  and a panel discussion with the filmmakers on the last day of the programme, 6th August.

Solo, Solitude (Istirahatlah kata kata) by Yosep Anggi Noen

The sophomore work of Indonesian director Yosep Anggi Noen, Solo, Solitude is a nuanced, measured look at the impact of political tyranny on artistic expression. Underlined by the context of the Indonesian dictator Suharto's violent crackdown on intellectuals and dissidents in the summer of 1996, the film is centered around a politically active poet's self-imposed exile and his wife's longing for his return.

River of Exploding Durians (Liu Lian Wang Fan) by Edmund Yeo

A somewhat indulgent portrait of student insurrection in a sleepy town, Malaysian director Edmund Yeo's debut packs a fair wallop without rather than within, with an unusually boisterous take on subject matters normally more subdued in a censorship-happy Malaysia, though the film is often weighed down by a frequently diffused script.

By the Time It Gets Dark (Dao Khanong) by Anocha Suwichakornpong

Strange, mystical, and utterly hypnotic, Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong's latest feature is a feat of working enigma, concealing and revealing on equal tempos the malleable nature of private and public memories. Ostensibly about a young director's attempt to film a biopic about a former student activist at the height of political terror in late Seventies Thailand - when the government sanctioned a brutal massacre of student demonstrators in Bangkok, the film is at once an indictment and a reconciliation of fate and politics.

Image result for green zeng the return

The Return by Green Zeng

The debut feature of multi-disciplinary artist Green Zeng, The Return charts the homecoming of an ex-political detainee who has to rediscover the reformed and sometimes deformed landscapes of a once familiar Singapore for himself. Exploring the repressed histories of demonstrations in an island-state known for its sanitized, institutional public image, the film sticks a deliberate finger into a wound that is only just starting to fester.

More details of the programme can be found here.

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