During the month of December and as a continuation of last year's New Asian Voices series, Filmatique is hosting New Asian Voices II, a series of vibrant and innovative films from emerging Asian auteurs.
Steeped in the vivid landscape of urbanizing Vietnam, Phan Dang Di's Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories examines the fluidity of gender, class and attraction through the eyes of Vu, a young man suspended between tradition and modernity, his origins and his dreams. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara's stark and poetic Burning Birds traces a story of female fortitude against monstrous odds— the extrajudicial political violence of Sri Lanka's civil war. Toshi Fujiwara's No Man's Zone captures the haunting atmosphere of post-disaster Fukushima while Byamba Sakhya's Remote Control allegorizes tectonic shifts in Mongolian society through the tale of a young boy perched on a roof in Ulan Bator, seeking to manipulate the lives of others with a stolen television remote.
Featuring invigorating fiction and documentary works from exciting Asian talents, Filmatique's New Asian Voices II examines issues of sexuality, political injustice, ecological disaster and the tides of societal change within a diverse constellation of nations that remain torn between their heritages and the atomizing reality of a globalized future.
Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories, Phan Dang Di / Vietnam-France-Germany-The Netherlands, 2015
Saigon, early 2000s. Photography student Vu has just arrived from Vietnam's backwaters and is immediately attracted to his handsome roommate Thang, who works odd jobs as a bouncer and low-level drug dealer. Entranced by the nocturnal rhythms of Thang's world, Vu follows him around the city where he meets Van, a ballet-cum-exotic dancer and Thang's sometimes-girlfriend. These three forlorn teenagers form an increasingly ambiguous friendship until one night a street fight breaks out, forcing them to flee the city. Having found solace in Vu's native village, they soon meet the wife Vu's father has chosen for him.
Phan Dang Di's atmospheric and visually opulent second film delivers a distinct but subtle portrait of burgeoning sexuality, family relationships and the rise of capitalism in early-aughts Vietnam. Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories premiered at Berlin, Hong Kong, Stockholm, São Paulo, Busan and Nantes, where it won the Audience Award.
No Man's Zone, Toshi Fujiwara / Japan-France, 2012
On March 11, 2011, a tsunami struck the coast of Fukushima causing the meltdown of a nearby power plant. Within 24 hours the population within a 20-km radius was ordered to evacuate. Shortly thereafter Toshi Fujiwara entered the so-called "No Man's Zone," interviewing those who either could not or did not want to leave. Haunted by imperceptible traces of radiation, Fukushima has been transformed into an atmosphere of silence and disintegration, a land of cherry blossoms and ghosts in white protective clothing.
Chronicling Japan's physical and psychological landscape in the immediate aftermath, No Man's Zone is a bold political and ecological testimony to one of the century's worst nuclear disasters. Toshi Fujiwara's third documentary premiered at Berlin, IDFA and Tokyo FilmEX, where it won a Special Mention.
Burning Birds, Sanjeewa Pushpakumara / Sri Lanka-France, 2016
1989, a small town in Eastern Sri Lanka. Suspected of harboring oppositional political views, Kusum's husband has been abducted and murdered by an illegal militia of government soldiers, leaving her to care for their eight children. Kusum works breaking stones at a nearby quarry, an occupation that affords her enough money to feed the children and buy her daughter a dress for school. After refusing her boss's advances, Kusum is confronted with both physical and sexual abuse— yet she remains tenacious on her path to survival.
Capturing the airless existence of a mother determined to prevail no matter the cost, Burning Birds offers a lucid portrait of Sri Lanka's turbulent political history. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s second film premiered at Busan, Rotterdam, Göteborg; International Film Festival for Human Rights, where it won the Grand Prix; and Tokyo FILMeX, where it won the Special Jury Prize.
Remote Control, Byamba Sakhya / Mongolia-Germany, 2013
Teenage boy Tsog lives in the slums outside Ulan Bator. He sells milk from his neighbor to support his family, with whom he frequently quarrels. The flight of his imagination is Tsog's only solace— he spends hours drawing his hero, a young monk. After a fight with his parents Tsog takes off to the city, where he settles on the roof of an apartment building. From this new vantage point he spots a beautiful but troubled young woman inhabiting a nearby penthouse. Seeking to intertwine their fates— to bridge the gap between their social, economic, and spiritual conditions— Tsog steals a remote which he uses to control the young woman's television set.
Correlating the adventures of a young man on the brink of adulthood with Mongolia's societal changes, Remote Control is an evocative allegory for a nation reconciling its natural and urban landscapes, its traditions with modernity. Byamba Sakhya's first narrative feature premiered at Rotterdam, Göteborg, Seattle, Shanghai, Munich, Warsaw, and Camerimage; Busan, where it won the New Currents Award; and Anonimul Romania, where it won Best Feature.