Cinema Series | The Way of the Future: The New Faces of Southeast Asian Cinema

Recent years have seen the emergence of new filmmakers in Southeast Asian countries, whose films have achieved real international recognition, in Asia, Europe and sometimes even the United States. These new voices, often embodied by young authors, born in the 80s or early 90s, have defied the usual clichés related to the region’s cinema. Through their audacity, the stubbornness of their visions, their lack of complex in relation to genre (in all its meanings), through their political courage too, they participate in redefining the contours of a cinema as diverse as the cultures and stories which compose it. In doing so, these filmmakers, with among them a certain number of women, bring a breath of modernity that opens up infinitely exciting horizons for the future. And which we can only encourage and hope will also inspire contemporary Cambodian cinema.

For a few days, we invite you to discover some of the most notable films of these recent years – including the latest winners of the Caméra d’Or and the Critics’ Week at Cannes – with the added bonus of welcoming several of their authors.

Davy Chou

Single fee of $3 per screening. Tickets on sale at the reception from March 22th, 2024. 

Wednesday, April 3rd

at 6:30pm (IFC)

“Leonor Will Never Die” by Martika Ramirez Escobar (2022)

Screening followed by a Q&A with the director 

100 minutes – Filipino & English with English subtitles 

Leonor Reyes was once a major player in the Filipino film industry after creating a string of successful action films, but now her household struggles to pay the bills. When she reads an advertisement looking for screenplays, Leonor begins tinkering with an unfinished script about the quest of young, noble Ronwaldo, forced to avenge his brother’s murder at the hand of thugs. While her imagination provides some escape from reality, she goes all-in after an accident involving a television knocks her out, sends her into a coma, and transports her inside the incomplete movie. Now Leonor can play out her wildest dreams firsthand and discover the perfect ending to her story.

Thursday, April 4th

at 6:pm (IFC)

Presentation of MARG1N, Southeast Asian film magazine based in Phnom Penh 

By Seng Savunthara, MARG1N editor-in-chief

The inaugural issue, entitled “pirate.lov3r.2024.mkv”, highlights film analyses and writings from Cambodian and Filipino writers on the topic of “piracy as part of our cinema culture.” This issue raises the question of our viewing habits—our downloading, sharing, and stealing.

The magazine exists only in a print-only form by a limited run. It aimes at connecting annually two countries from Southeast Asia as a unifier under a specific prompt or topic. Between Cambodia and the Philippines, there will be 20 pieces interlacing each other. Words from filmmakers, actors, critics, and viewers. Flowing between pages with film essays, analyses, fictions, comics, photographs,…

at 7pm (IFC) 

“Young Love”, by Lomorpich Rithy (2019)

Screening followed by a Q&A with the director

112 minutes – Khmer with English subtitles

In a modern Cambodian high-school, a teenage girl on a quest to discover her first kiss puts her friendship with her childhood friend on the line when an unexpected crush comes into the fray. Amid unexplored emotions of first love, tensions bring to light troubling secrets that will disturb her balance between love, friendship and family.

Friday, April 5th

at 6:30pm (IFC)

“Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell” by Pham Thiên Ân (2023)

182 minutes – Vietnamese with English subtitles 
Country: VIETNAM

After his sister-in-law dies in a freak accident in Saigon, Vietnam, Thien must deliver her body back to their countryside hometown. He’s accompanied by his 5-year-old nephew Dao, who miraculously survived the crash. Thien searches for his older brother in the mystical landscapes of rural Vietnam.

Saturday, April 6th

at 10am (IFC)

“Ten Years Myanmar” by Thaiddhi, Nay Wunn Ni, Myo Thar Khin, Aung Min, Lamin Oo (2023)

104 minutes – Burmese with English subtitles
Country: MYANMAR

Five filmmakers from Myanmar envision the country’s future a decade from now, contemplating justice and restoration in this omnibus project.

at 2pm (IFC)

“Autobiography” by Makbul Mubarak (2022)

115 minutes – Bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles

A young man working as a housekeeper in an empty mansion. When its owner returns to start his mayoral election campaign, the young man bonds with him and defends him when his campaign is vandalized, setting off a chain of violence.

at 4:30pm (IFC)

Round-table “Southeast Asian Cinema : How to Be Modern?”

Attendees: Amanda Nell Eu, Martika Ramirez Escobar, Lomorpich Rithy, Lee Phongsavanh, Nontawat Numbenchapol
Moderator: Davy Chou 

Amanda Nell Eu won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes last year with Tiger Stripes, a “body horror” about adolescence. Her film, altered by censorship for its release in Malaysia, however represented the country at the Oscars. With her comedy homage to Filipino action films of the 70s, Martika Ramirez Escobar is the first filmmaker from her country to win an award at the Sundance Film Festival. Lomorpich Rithy and Lee Phongsavanh are among the very few of their generation to have directed a feature film in their country, in Cambodia and Laos respectively. The first made a romantic teen movie, the second a family drama. For the four aforementioned filmmakers, this is their first feature film. For Nontawat Numbenchapol, Doi Boy is his 5th feature film, but his first pure fiction. This film, which combines thriller and description of the social reality of refugees and sex workers in northern Thailand, was launched on Netflix.

We will discuss with all these filmmakers who have each moved the lines of their national cinema, what it means for them to be modern, within an international cinema that is said to be in crisis and in an increasing phase of standardization.

at 6:30pm (IFC)

“Tiger Stripes” by Amanda Nell Eu (2023)

Screening followed by a Q&A with the director 

93 minutes – Malaysian with English subtitles 

The first amongst her friends to hit puberty, Zaffan, 12, discovers a terrifying secret about her body. Ostracised by her community, Zaffan fights back, learning that to be free she must embrace the body she feared, emerging as a proud, strong woman.

Sunday, April 7th

at 10am (Fable Cinema – Factory Phnom Penh)

“Last Shadow at First Light” by Nicole Midori Woodford (2023)

108 minutes – English, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles

Ami, haunted by recurring apparitions, embarks on a journey from Singapore to Japan in search of her missing mother. Amidst the transforming landscapes, Ami’s dreams, hauntings and lost mother unveil their true form.

at 2pm (Fable Cinema – Factory Phnom Penh)

“The Signal” by Lee Phongsavanh (2023)

Screening followed by a Q&A with the director 

99 minutes – Lao with English subtitles 
Country: LAOS

A country girl comes to the city in search of her father, but secrets and mysteries will force her to re-evaluate when a family needs to stay together and when it needs to let go.

at 4:30pm (Fable Cinema – Factory Phnom Penh)

“Doi Boy” by Nontawat Numbenchapol (2023)

Screening followed by a Q&A with the director 

99 minutes – Thai & Shan with English subtitles

Sorn, a sex worker from the Shan ethnic group in Myanmar, copes with his bitter reality in Chiang Mai, Thailand by imagining himself in his clients’ lives. He is drawn into a complex relationship with one client, an investigator probing a political activist, even as he tries to build a future of his own as a refugee far from home.

at 7pm (Fable Cinema – Factory Phnom Penh)

Closing night of the festival

Related post