By now, most of us are living our lives almost exclusively at home to curb the spread of COVID-19. Not being able to step into a cinema or attend a film festival can be a disheartening feeling. Here at the Asian Film Archive, we too are temporarily on a hiatus from our regular film programmes.
In the meantime, there is thankfully some brilliant online content to keep us engaged. Many initiatives have started as a response to the current lockdown situation that most of the world is in. There are also resources that have always existed but are less known.
Asian Cinema Digest is a new monthly initiative by the AFA that brings together online resources dealing specifically with Asian cinema. With a screen and internet connection, you can Watch, Read, Support and Explore Asian cinema from wherever you are in the world!
Restored in 2018 from AFA’s own collection and presented online for the first time, Sunshine Singapore is a pioneering work by Rajendra Gour, possibly Singapore’s earliest independent short filmmaker.
A found footage work-in-progress piece by Singaporean artist-filmmaker Toh Hun Ping, as part of a larger project regarding Singapore on film through history.
A directorial debut by Cambodian filmmaker Sotho Kulikar, The Last Reel (2014) deals with the legacy of trauma and terror of those who suffered under the Khmer Rouge. Available for free until 30 April 2020.
Playlist of full-length films created specially for this time, containing the restored classic Santi Vina (1954) and other archival clips and videos.
Cinema One Originals is an annual film festival in the Philippines that commissions and screens original films by new and emerging filmmakers. Close to 20 of their recent features and documentaries are available for free on their Youtube channel.
An initiative set up by independent Filipino filmmakers to raise funds to help their fellow film workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Live Q&As, watch parties and 3 volumes of links to features and shorts by Filipino and Southeast Asian filmmakers have been uploaded on their facebook page, along with means to donate to the cause.
A selection of close to 50 Asian documentary films made freely available by IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam).
More than 40 short and medium-length films funded and produced by Freedom Film Fest since 2005, available for free.
12 medium and feature-length Japanese indie films available for free.
Originally planned to be screened at the Gropius Bau museum in Berlin, German cultural platform Berliner Festspiele is streaming four feature-length documentaries from Hong Kong for free until 7 May 2020.
Asian Cinema series on MUBI
A MUBI membership costs USD$10.99 (monthly) or $95.88 (yearly).
Contemporary Asian films streaming on Vimeo
In view of the cinema closures indie film distributors Anticipate Pictures (Singapore) and HAL Distribution (Thailand) are streaming several films in their library on Vimeo to purchase or rent. These include critically-acclaimed Asian films such as:
- House of Hummingbird (2018) (Available only in Singapore)
- Have a Nice Day (2017) (Available only in Singapore)
- So Long, My Son (2019) (Available only in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand)
- Nakorn-Sawan (2018) (Available only in Thailand)
- Dearest Sister (2016) (Available only in Thailand)
Browse through AFA’s very own exhibition publication from 2016 that deals with lost films from the region, anchored by the twin themes of Confluence and Conflict.
SINdie interviews filmmakers from Southeast Asia to talk about how they are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns.
Japanese auteur Nobuhiko Ôbayashi passed away on 10 April at the age of 82. Most-known for his cult horror film Hausu (House) (1977), he directed close to 50 films throughout his career, including his newest, Labyrinth of Cinema in 2019. Here is a recent interview of his by MUBI.
Interview: Tsai Ming-Liang on ‘Days’
Taing Rinith of the Khmer Times reflects on how Cambodian cinema thrived during the civil war.
SEAsian Indie Cinemas
While all cinemas – including Oldham Theatre – are closed temporarily, some are hit harder than others.
SAMPP has set up a fund offering grants, free memberships as well as a dedicated resource website to help all eligible Singapore-based media practitioners whose livelihoods have been affected.
US-based platform Field of Vision has created a fund to provide grants to freelancers working in the documentary field, anywhere in the world. The next round of applications are open from 6-8 May 2020.