This monthly film series offers a fresh window on social realities, cultural transformations and creative imaginings from across Asia and the Pacific, through documentary and feature films made by some of the most entertaining, insightful and uncompromising filmmakers in our region. Screenings are followed by a short discussion, led by relevant local and invited scholars and filmmakers.
Sponsored and hosted by the Australian Centre on China in the World, the series is programmed by a team with diverse expertise in visual culture, dramatic arts, independent cinema and popular culture in Asia and the Pacific.
Christian Sorace firstname.lastname@example.org
Directed by Gu Tao 顾桃
2013, 99 minutes, China
Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles
China in the World Building (188)
Fellows Lane, ANU
Wednesday 15 February, 5:30-7:00pm
This season of Asia and the Pacific Screens deals with borders and their various manifestations. Borders play a fundamental role in people’s sense of being at home, or adrift, in the world. The films in this season deal with borders as spaces of people and places in transition. Although many of the films take place in the border regions of China, itself a country described by its leaders as continuously in a state of “transition” 转变, borders can also partition metaphysical and psychological realms. A border can be a space of welcome, abandon, interrogation, neighbourliness, exile, sanity, transcendence, and death. In this series, we will witness the ways in which people cope with the borders that enclose and traverse their lives.
(2015, 95 mins, China)
Directed by Zhao Liang 赵亮
Zhao Liang’s Behemoth invents a cinematic language of despair for a world beyond salvation. Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Behemoth is a journey that begins in the coal mines of Inner Mongolia, surveys the destruction of the grassland and miners as they die in their hospital beds, all for the construction of the famous ghost city of Kangbashi in Ordos.
(2010, 112 mins, China)
Directed by Guo Hengqi 郭恒奇
Winner for best documentary at the Pusan International Film Festival, this is a stark yet searing portrait of a rural Chinese mining community on the cusp of being relocated from their traditional homes into newly built “luxury” housing.
(2015, 110 mins, China)
Directed by Bi Gan 毕赣
Country doctor Chen Sheng sets out on a train journey to search for his brother’s abandoned child, only to find himself in a dreamlike world where the boundaries between past, present, and future – and between fantasy and reality – are porous.
(2015, 123 mins, China)
Directed by Pema Tseden པད་མ་ཚེ་བརྟན། 万玛才旦
Tharlo, a Tibetan sheep-herder and orphan with a remarkable memory, has his life turned upside down when he has to go to the city to get his first government ID card and encounters a beautiful hairdresser who may not be the person Tharlo imagines her to be…
(1998, 95 mins, Taiwan)
Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang 蔡明亮
At the turn of the new millennium a strange disease has hit Taiwan. Meanwhile, a reclusive young man uses the sizeable hole that has appeared in his living room floor to spy on his downstairs neighbor, an attractive woman who stockpiles toilet paper.
(2013, 99 mins, China)
Directed by Gu Tao 顾桃
Weijia is a hunter of the Ewenki people, in far northern China. He spends his days drinking and painting his memories of a better time after his hunting guns and land are taken away.
(1975, 144 mins, Soviet Union and Japan)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa 黒澤明
Filmed in the peaceful vastnesss of Siberia, this is one of Kurosawa's most beautiful films as well as a tale of great humanity. It is based on the turn of the century journals of Tsarist officer, Vladimir Arseniev who met and befriended the hunter Dersu Uzala, who in turn teaches him to survive in the wilderness.
(2013, 228 mins, China)
Directed by Wang Bing 王兵
‘Til Madness Do Us Part is the portrait of a group of men secluded from society. Surviving in a small world composed of a few rooms and one corridor, their only freedom is now to behave and befriend as they want.
(2012, 90 mins, China)
Directed by Peng Tao 彭韜
Convinced that he should not die single, a lonely cremator resorts to marrying a dead woman when he is diagnosed with lung cancer.
(2006, 111mins, China)
Directed by Jia Zhangke 賈樟柯
A town in Fengjie county is gradually being demolished and flooded to make way for the Three Gorges Dam. A man and woman visit the town to locate their estranged spouses, and become witness to the societal changes.
Season 5: Made in Hong Kong
Taking its title from a 1997 film by indie director Fruit Chan, this season of Asia and the Pacific Screens presents a selection of films showcasing Hong Kong’s New Wave cinema and its legacies. In the late 1970s, a new generation of filmmakers came to be dubbed Hong Kong’s ‘New Wave’. More eclectic than their French namesakes, the New Wave directors were nevertheless consistent in their push to experiment with technique and subject, developing new forms and renovating established ones. Many early New Wave filmmakers grew up amid the prosperity and tension of colonial Hong Kong, having the chance to travel or study overseas, and were influenced by international youth culture of the 1960s. The 1970s saw the emergence of Cantonese-only TV channels leading to an increased demand for new, locally relevant content. A particular feature of Hong Kong’s new wave, then, is that many filmmakers started out directing for television. Among the experimental works were many genre-defying combinations, mixing martial arts and horror with comedy and romance, for example.
However, many films also dealt with economic and political uncertainty as well as pressing local issues—such as official corruption, or the plight of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees. The films in this season reflect on Hong Kong’s youth culture in the 1980–90s, the territory’s shifting sense of identity, and its changing relationship with Mainland China, both politically and culturally. From the dramatic realism of Ann Hui to the suave action of John Woo, the sensitivity of Stanley Kwan and Wong Kar-wai, through to the unapologetic independence of Fruit Chan—many Hong Kong filmmakers remain among the most individual and influential figures in Chinese cinema.
(1982, 106mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by Ann Hui 許鞍華
A Japanese photojournalist travels to Vietnam to document post-liberation reconstruction, but instead uncovers a harsh reality of labour camps and desperation—one of Hui’s seminal dramas on Vietnamese refugees.
(1996, 118 mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by Patrick Chan 陳可辛
Two Mainland Chinese migrants meet and fall in love in Hong Kong, where they have gone to make their fortunes. A love story spanning years and continents, this is also an oblique reflection on shifting identity and aspirations in Hong Kong and China during the 1980s-1990s.
(1986, 95 mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by John Woo 吳宇森
John Woo’s take on the gangster-redemption film also marked Chow Yun-fat’s action debut, becoming a contemporary classic. When triad member Ho tries to go straight, the gang brings his innocent father and policeman brother into the fray. His partner in crime, Mark (Chow), sets out to avenge his friend and regain their honour.
(1988, 96 mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by Stanley Kwan 關錦鵬
In 1930s Hong Kong, the ill-fated love of Chan, a stylish playboy, and Fleur, a much sort after courtesan, leads them to make a suicide pact. When Fleur reappears fifty years later to find her lost love, she discovers that the city she knew has also left little trace of its past.
2008 Sichuan Earthquake Anniversary Screening
(2009, 79 mins, China)
Directed by Ai Weiwei 艾未未
To mark the anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, CIW postdoctoral fellow Christian Sorace presents Disturbing the Peace 老妈蹄花, a documentary by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, recording Ai’s confrontation with the state over student deaths during the quake.
June Four, Three Films
In the Heat of the Sun 阳光灿烂的日子
(1994, 128 mins, China)
Directed by Jiang Wen 姜文
One summer in Beijing, during the Cultural Revolution...Ma Xiaojun roams the city with his friends, looking for adventure, waging street battles and discovering love, in this adaptation of Wang Shuo’s 1991 novel Wild Beasts 动物凶猛.
(1986, 104 mins, China)
Directed by Chen Kaige 陈凯歌
Less well known than Yellow Earth 黃土地 (1985) and his multi-award winning Farewell My Concubine 霸王別姬 (1993), Chen’s ambiguous second feature depicts a military unit training for a grand military parade.
(2004, 70 mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by Tammy Cheung 張虹
This documentary records the 1 July protest of 2003, when roughly half a million people marched to oppose anti-sedition laws—the largest Hong Kong protest since the 1989 marches in sympathy with the Beijing democracy movement.
(1997, 108 mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by Fruit Chan 陳果
When Moon, a triad debt collector in Kowloon, discovers his teenage girlfriend needs an organ transplant he takes on a hit job, but can he follow through? Fruit Chan’s breakout independent feature is part of a trilogy reflecting on the handover period.
(1990, 94 mins, Hong Kong)
Directed by Wong Kar-wai 王家衛
In 1960s Hong Kong, a wily playboy longs to find his birthmother; he travels to meet her in the Philippines, but she rebuffs him. This simple story is made unforgettable under Wong’s subtle direction, and the sensual lens of Christopher Doyle.
Season 4: Roots & Routes
The fourth season of Asia & the Pacific Screens explores transnational and transcultural experiences that inflect our understanding of ‘China’ and ‘Chinese’, past and present. While responding to the global impact of China’s recent rise, these films also emphasize the long legacy of Chinese transnational movements. How have such migrations created specific cultural experiences? How do diverse Chinese communities globally articulate their identities, as well as their cultural or political aspirations? What are the benefits and challenges of intercultural lives in a world of unequal powers? What has been the impact of China on international networks of capital and labour? These are some of the questions raised in stories from Northern Australia to Britain, from Myanmar to Japan. This series especially highlights three films from Chinese-Australia, bringing these filmmakers from around the country to present their work in conversation.
(2004, 48 mins, China/USA)
Directed by Qian Ying 錢穎 and Li Jie 李潔
A Village Across the World follows a group of foreign English-teaching volunteers into the cultural and emotional landscape of a Chinese village.
Three Films for June Four
(1985, 94 mins, China)
Directed by Huang Jianxin 黄建新
The story of an absurd investigation when engineer Zhao is suspected of international espionage, Black Cannon Incident is a parody of 1950s-1970 spy movies; a rare black comedy satirizing the incompetence and paranoia of the bureaucracy.
(2014, 98 mins, Hong Kong/UK)
Directed by Matthew Torne
Lessons in Dissent follows highschool student Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 and his former classmate Ma Jai 馬雲褀, as they lead a massive protest against the proposed National Education curriculum for Hong Kong schools.
(1988, 110 mins, China)
Directed by Mi Jiashan 米家山
Adapted from a novel by renowned Chinese writer Wang Shuo, The Troubleshooters is a comedy set in 1980s Beijing, about three friends who open a company specialising in fulfilling people’s dreams — even just for one day.
(1996, 96 mins, Australia)
Directed by Clara Law
Narrated from the perspective of each child in the family, this acclaimed film explores one Hong Kong Chinese family’s attempt to keep their family together in a very different place, to often hilarious, yet ultimately poignant effect.
Song of the Exile 客途秋恨
(1990, 100 mins, Hong Kong/Taiwan)
Directed by Ann Hui 許鞍華
An inter-generational story spanning three decades and crossing the borders of China, Britain, Macau, Hong Kong and Japan, in the aftermath of World War II.
(2014, 54 mins, Australia)
Directed by Margaret Anne Smith
Based on the book by historian Henry Reynolds, North of Capricorn is a new documentary revealing a part of Australia like no other, north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and its unique multicultural history.
(2012, 91 mins, China)
Directed by Cun Xuan 寸炫 and Li Xin 李昕
To comply with her grandmother’s last wishes, Cun Xuan visits their ancestor’s hometown in west Yunnan, then decides to cross into Myanmar in search of her uncle and his family, whom she has never met.
Australian-Chinese Cinema in Conversation
(1998, 30 mins, Australia)
Directed by Tony Ayres
This film probes the uncomfortable reality of racial stereotyping and discrimination in the gay community in Australia, through interviews with Asian men who talk frankly, and often humorously, of their experiences of living within a ‘double minority’.
(2002, 52 mins, Australia)
Directed by Mitzi Goldman
A one-woman show based on the stories of writer Anna Yen's grandmother, her mother and herself, Chinese Take Away is a unique blend of storytelling, circus skills, clowning, movement and magic.
(2011, 74 mins, UK)
Directed by Marc & Nick Francis
This intimate documentary traces the entry of Chinese capital to Zambia, following both Chinese entrepreneurs and Zambian government powerbrokers.
Season 3: Survival Politics
Across Asia and the Pacific the pursuit of rapid economic growth and urbanization has had severe ecological ramifications, resulting in community displacement, food safety concerns, and grave challenges to the survival of individuals and their cultures. How do communities react and organize in the face of complex political, economic and ecological pressures? This season of films explores grassroots responses to socio-environmental crises across Asia and the Pacific.
(2013, 122 mins)
Directed by Zhu Xiaoyang & Li Weihua
In the early 2000s, Hongren village witnessed the disappearance of arable lands. Villagers began building a modern community nearby, but local government decided to demolish it, on the very day of its completion, imposing its own plan.
Directed by Nick Torrens
Shot over eleven years around China’s western metropolis of Chongqing, this film explores how China’s policies affect the lives and wellbeing of its people, especially the common dreams that drive their values and aspirations.
Directed by Elaine W. Ho 何穎雅 and Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga
Filmed in Kowloon, Hong Kong, during the rainy spring of 2013, Precipitations is less a forecast than a portrait of the city, drawn via the journeys of several people involved with art and social activism.
Directed by Tom Zubrycki
Maria Tiimon, from the Pacific nation of Kiribati, works in Sydney for an NGO raising awareness of Pacific climate change issues. As she struggles to balance the needs of family, with the urgent task of raising awareness of her nation’s plight, Maria’s personal life suddenly draws her back to Kiribati.
Directed by Hafiz Rancajale
In December 2011, locals in Lambu, Indonesia, protested against a gold mine that threatened their farming livelihood. Eventually, police opened fire, killing three people. How have people come to terms with their physical and spiritual wounds since then?
Red Persimmons 満山紅柿:上山柿と人とのゆきかい (2001, 90 mins)
Directed by Ogawa Shinsuke & Peng Xiaolian
Red Persimmons beauifully observes how persimmon cultivation has informed the identity of this place and its people, across decades of war and economic development in a Japanese village; and is the last film by renowned partisan filmmaker Ogawa Shinsuke, completed after his death by Chinese filmmaker Peng Xiaolian.
Taiwan: the View from the South
Acclaimed director Tsai Ming-liang will present three of his films, as a guest of the conference Taiwan: the View from the South, hosted by CIW and the Institute of Taiwan History, Academica Sinica.
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang 蔡明亮
An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive on the fringes of bustling Taipei. A chance meeting with a lonely grocery clerk might help them make a better life.
Director Tsai Ming-liang in conversation, plus two short films
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang 蔡明亮
No Form is the first of a series the director's four short films. A monk moves through a dual space: slowly in the midst of a crowd in Taiwan and in the abstract maze of an all-white space. This intentional pace, which brings the viewer into its thrall, subtly evokes notions of pilgrimage, feintly echoing the project’s origins.
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang 蔡明亮
At a busy Taipei intersection, a girl looks for a street vendor she met there under a pedestrian bridge—but he and the bridge are gone.
(2004, 110 mins)
Directed by Yen Lan-chuan 顏蘭權 & Juang Yi-tseng 莊益增
Let It Be follows the everyday toil of four elderly rice farmers in southern Taiwan's rice-producing countryside, near Tainan. With rustic humour and humility, their stories provide a local perspective on the sometimes adverse effects of new economic policies on farming communities, and their threatened cultures.
In collaboration with the conference 'Survival Politics in East Asia: Socio-Environmental Crises and Grassroots Resistance', organised by ARC laureate Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki's Informal Life Politics research group.
Directed by Ou Ning
When a group of Beijing residents protest the planned destruction of their street before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the filmmakers give them video cameras to document and reflect on the eviction process.
Directed by Liew Seng Tat, Tan Chui Mui, Woo Ming Jin & Yeo Joon-han
Four films produced to join in the ongoing protest against potential environmental pollution from a heavy metals refinery in Malaysia, run by the Australian company Lynas. While one film tells the true story of a mother whose son is born handicapped due to chemical pollution, the others use hilariously lo-fi comedy to deliver their serious message.
Season 2: The Making of Cultures
How do visual media such as cinema and photography allow us to experience other cultures and perceive the world through an other’s point of view? This season's films offer meditations on the art of observation, perception and representation of cultures, and foreground their practitioners: actors, filmmakers, photographers, film projectionists and visual anthropologists.
Directed by Sun Yu 孙瑜
Country girl Xiao Feng, nicknamed “Wild Rose”, moves to Shanghai with her artist friend Jiang, and discovers that it is a city that only caters for the privileged few.
Directed by Judith MacDougall
The film examines photographic practices in the city of Kunming and explores the ambivalence people feel about whether photography should be employed as a medium of documentation and evidence or whether to use new technology to make it one of fantasy and empowerment.
Directed by Carma Hinton, Geremie R. Barmé and Richard Gordon
Morning Sun provides an inner history of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution , through the eyes of the high-school generation that was born around 1949 with the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and came of age in the 1960s.
June Four at Twenty-Five: Three Films
This special film event commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Protest Movement at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the nationwide crackdown on 4 June 1989.
Directed by Chen Kaige 陈凯歌
A Communist soldier Gu Qing is sent to the countryside to collect folk songs for the Communist Revolution. There he stays with a peasant family and learns that the happy songs he was sent to collect do not exist; the songs he finds are about hardship and suffering.
(1995, 180 mins)
Directed by Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon
The Gate of Heavenly Peace interweaves archival footage and contemporary interviews to examine how the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, which culminated in the violent government massacre on 3-4 June, were shaped by the complex political history of China’s twentieth century.
Sunless Days 沒有太陽的日子 (1990, 90 mins)
Directed by Shu Kei 舒琪 (a.k.a Kenneth Ip 葉健行)
Unwilling to make a typical news reportage, in Sunless Days director Shu Kei turns to his family and friends, producing a very personal document of what the Tiananmen Massacre means, both for a pre-handover Hong Kong, and a global Chinese community
ANU Asia Pacific Week Screening
In collaboration with the organizers of the ANU’s annual Asia Pacific Week, Asia and the Pacific Screens will be hosting a special late-night screening to welcome local and international delegates with an interest in film and culture from the region.
Directed by Ang Lee 李安
While widowed master chef Mr. Chu has a firm grasp on the fine art of Chinese cuisine, he is less successful when it comes to being a father to his three grown, unmarried daughters, pushing him to take drastic, poignant and often hilarious action.
Directed by Natasha Fijn
Khangai Herds observes the coexistence of two families and the herd animals living amongst them in the Khangai mountains of Mongolia. In a land of extreme conditions, herders and animals depend upon one another for survival.
Directed by Zhang Jinghong 張靜紅
In northeast Tibet, a projectionist travels from village to village screening open-air films, followed by a researcher and a filmmaker. The resulting documentary explores people’s indulgence in a visual world that can sometimes transgress the prevailing political regime.
Season 1: Monstrous Realities
Monsters have long roamed our imaginations, and they continue to find their way onto our screens. Coming from the depths of the ocean, the reaches of outer space, from scientific misadventure or even supernatural realms, they are often villainous outcasts and social others that articulate our perennial fears, troubled memories or suppressed desires.
Lurking between fantastical fictions and harsh realities, this season of films explores the literal and metaphorical idea of the monstrous; it promises not only encounters with ghoulish spectres or maniacal robots, for example, but also visits unresolved histories and often grim social realities of these diverse modern societies.
Director Tsukamoto Shinya 塚本晋也
Japanese with English Subtitiles
Shot around the densely urbanized Tokyo landscape of concrete and steel, Tetsuo II is a classic 1990s cyberpunk film in the sci-fi (kaijû)/horror genre from the auteur director Tsukamoto Shinya.
Director Choiha Dongha 최하동하
Korean with English subtitles
This movie offers a candid, compelling and at times uncomfortable glimpse into the lives of the approximately 70,000 taxi drivers operating in Seoul.
Director Jiang Wen 姜文
Chinese with English subtitles
During the last years of Sino-Japanese War, a Chinese villager becomes responsible for the lives of two prisoners from the Japanese Imperial Army. Should he kill them or set them free?
Director Director Ji Dan 季丹
Chinese with English Subtitiles
The film takes an unflinching look at the difficulties facing migrant families barely surviving at the margins of China's new prosperity.
Director Director Mori Tatsuya 森達也
Japanese with English subtitles
A2 is a continuation of director Tatsuya Mori's film A (1998), an incredible view inside the compound of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult after its leaders carried out the deadly sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995.
Director Director Kim Ki-duk 김기덕
Korean with English Subtitiles
A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Film Festival.
Director Satoshi Kon 今敏
Japanese with English Subtitiles
Originally made for television by the cult animated film director Kon Satoshi, this series explores the societal angst of a postwar, rapidly industrialized society, and is relatively unique in the anime genre, for its disturbing, self-reflexive insight.