Monographs: Video Essays on Asian Cinema
  • May 14, 2021 through May 27, 2021
Free Virtual Program

The six video essays collected in this thematic program cast a critical gaze upon symbols, systems, and the apparatus of power.

Ghosts Like Us
Riar Rizaldi
20 min.

Indonesian-born, Hong Kong-based researcher and curator Riar Rizaldi uses the trajectory of horror films made in Indonesia to explore how media technology can liberate the ideological state apparatus of cinema. In Bahasa Indonesia and English with English subtitles.

Death of a Soldier
Truong Minh Quý
14 min.

This found-footage essay by Vietnamese filmmaker Truong Minh Quý (The Tree House) compiles scenes of soldiers’ deaths in various Vietnamese propaganda war movies in an effort to understand the public adherence to—and manipulative purposes of—this distinct cinematic tradition. In Vietnamese with English subtitles.

Brave Revolutionary Redubbed
Kush Badhwar, Renu Savant
20 min.

In Brave Revolutionary Redubbed, Mumbai-based filmmakers Kush Badhwar and Renu Savant explore the way a scene from Mehul Kumar’s Brave Revolutionary (1994) has been remixed and recontextualized in the age of social media, blurring the line between authorship and authority. In Hindi and English with English subtitles.

Irani Bag
Maryam Tafakory
6 min.

Using excerpts from 24 Iranian films from 1986 to 2016, Maryam Tafakory’s brilliant” (Sight & Sound) video essay surveys the so-called handbag technique” in Iranian cinema, in which a wearable item (often with shoulder straps) becomes a surrogate for bodily contact between performers of the opposite sex—an act prohibited by Iranian censors. No dialogue with English captions.

Saved by the Party-State
Maja Korbecka
15 min.

This essay from journalist and cinema scholar Maja Korbecka juxtaposes two features depicting the early days of Communist rule in China—Li Shaohong’s Blush (1995) and Chen Xihe’s Sisters Stand Up (1951)—to study the relationship between film narrative and the Party-state agenda, as well as the contradictions embedded within women’s liberation in 1949–1966 China. In Mandarin and English with English subtitles.

Her Five Lives
Saodat Ismailova
13 min.

Acclaimed Uzbek director Saodat Ismailova (40 Days of Silence) looks back on almost a century of cinema in Uzbekistan to analyze the representation and transformation of Uzbek heroines onscreen. No dialogue.


Feature Image: Brave Revolutionary Redubbed, Kush Badhwar, Renu Savant
Media images in order of screening, beginning with Ghosts Like Us
All stills courtesy of the Asian Film Archive