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Poetic Justice: Personalising Politics on Screen



Poetic Justice: Personalising Politics on Screen presents a series of seven contemporary fictional films from Southeast Asia and a panel discussion featuring the filmmakers of the works. Taking the notion of “poetic justice” as a point of departure, the session takes an interest in the intersections between fictional filmmaking and real-life political events in national histories. 

Why and how do filmmakers infuse our sensitive and often subdued pasts into their own narratives? Can any balance be redressed through the avenue of fictional imaginings? What are the ethical considerations involved as a creator and what can the poetics of cinema possibly achieve through this process?

Join guests and film directors Anocha Suwichakornpong (Thailand), Edmund Yeo (Malaysia), Green Zeng (Singapore) and Yosep Anggi Noen (Indonesia) as the event seeks to traverse the real, the hypothetical and the ideal, informed by the creative decisions of the makers. 

Poetic Justice is presented by Asian Film Archive and supported by The Arts House.

Double bill
Fri, 4 Aug | 7.30pm - 10pm
Sat, 5 Aug | 1.30pm - 4pm (Repeat screening)
Tickets available here 

Flowers in the Wall (Bunga dan Tembok)
Director: Eden Junjung
2016/Indonesia/16min/Bahasa Indonesia (with English subtitles)/PG

Dyah and her son’s Fajar Merah is travelling to the city to apply for a death certificate of her husband, Wiji Thukul. Wiji Thukul is an Indonesian poet who has been missing since 1998. Dyah’s journey has turned into something unusual because since the disappearance of Wiji Thukul, her family has been holding to a belief that he is still alive.

screened with

[Singapore Premiere]
Solo, Solitude (Istirahatlah kata-kata)
Director: Yosep Anggi Noen
2016/Indonesia/97min/Bahasa Indonesia (with English subtitles)/NC16 (Some coarse language)

The Suharto regime has been holding power in Indonesia for over 30 years, shutting down democracy repeatedly. Highly critical of the regime and unafraid to speak his mind, Wiji Thukul is a poet whose words are often yelled proudly by the crowd during political protests. When riots break out in Jakarta in 1996, he and a few other activists are accused to be responsible. Forced to flee, Wiji escapes to Pontianak in Borneo where he hides for eight months, sometimes living with complete strangers. There, he changes his identity several times, but continues to write poetry and short stories under a pen name. In the meantime, in Solo, central Java, his wife, Sipon, lives with their two children under constant surveillance. In May 1998, Wiji Thukul is declared missing, a month before Suharto is deposed by his own people.

There will be a post-show Q&A session with Yosep Anggi Noen for both screenings.

Sat, 5 Aug| 4.30pm - 7pm

Tickets available here

River of Exploding Durians 
Director: Edmund Yeo
2014/Malaysia/128min/Mandarin (with English subtitles)/PG13 (Some mature content) 

When a rare earth plant is being built near a coastal town, its inhabitants fall into despair, fearful of its radioactive effects. Ming, a high school student, is indifferent towards the changes. All he cares about is spending idyllic afternoons with the childhood friend he secretly loves, Mei Ann. Meanwhile. Ming's history teacher, Ms. Lim, has started an activist group to protest against the construction. She recruits her favourite student, Hui Ling, to join her. As the construction goes on, their idealism gets severely tested and all drawn into a chain of events that changes their lives irrevocably.



Double bill
Sat, 5 Aug | 8pm - 10.30pm
Sun, 6 Aug | 1.30pm - 4pm (Repeat screening)
Tickets available here

Director: Tinnawat Chankloi
2014/Thailand/17min/Thai (with English subtitles)/PG13 (Some mature content) 

10 strange rules bind the students of an isolated school. They are made to follow the rules without any questions. One day, student ‘329’ decides to rebel and break away

- screened with -

By the Time It Gets Dark (Dao Khanong) 
Director: Anocha Suwichakornpong
 2016/Thailand, France, Qatar, Benelux/105min/Thai (with English subtitles)/PG13 (Some coarse language) 
A film director and her muse who was a student activist in the 1970s, a waitress who keeps changing jobs, an actor and an actress, all live loosely connected to each other by almost invisible threads. The narrative sheds its skin several times to reveal layer upon layer of the complexities that make up the characters’ lives.

There will be a post-show Q&A session with Anocha Suwichakornpong for both screenings. 

Double bill
Sun, 6 Aug | 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Tickets available here

A Short Film on the May 13 Generation 
Director: Jason Soo
2014/Singapore/19min/Mandarin (with English subtitles)/Rating TBA 

Singapore, 1954. Students from Chinese middle schools seek exemption for classmates affected by a new conscription law. Their peaceful gathering is met with violence from the anti-riot squad. In June, 800 students occupy Chinese High School to continue their protest. For 3 weeks, the students conduct their own classes and organize themselves for communal living. Groups and committees are set up to take charge of recreation, food, laundry, sanitation, medicine, security, public relations, etc. The events of May and June 1954 served as a catalyst for the anti-colonial struggle and ultimately set Singapore on its road to independence.

screened with

The Return 
Director: Green Zeng
2015/Singapore/83min/Mandarin (with English subtitles)/PG13 (Some mature content)

Wen, a political detainee, is released after many years of imprisonment. Arrested without trial for being an alleged communist, he returns, an old man, to an uneasy reunion with his children. Has his sacrifice come at too great a price? Wen also wanders through the city to see how his homeland has transformed into a shining metropolis. He is ready to move on but unforeseen circumstances force his journey to take a tragic turn.

There will be a post-show Q&A session with Green Zeng.

Panel Discussion

Sun, 6 Aug | 4.30pm - 6pm
Free admission with registration here

Join speakers and filmmakers Anocha Suwichakornpong (By The Time It Gets Dark), Edmund Yeo (River of Exploding Durians), Green Zeng (The Return) and Yosep Anggi Noen (Solo, Solitude) in a panel discussion moderated by Professor Adam Knee (LASALLE College of the Arts) on the theme Poetic Justice: Personalising Poltiics on Screen.

About Reframe

An initiative by the Asian Film Archive, Reframe is a series that aims to bring together diverse audiences and the film community at large through an innovative range of programmes, encouraging dialogue and examining topics surrounding cinema and the moving image.

By asking the hard questions and re-looking at trends and issues critically, the series will construct meaningful frameworks that bring forth multi-perspective viewpoints and an increased appreciation of film and culture.

About the Asian Film Archive

The Asian Film Archive (AFA) is a subsidiary of the National Library Board in Singapore and a charity that focuses on culturally important works by independent Asian filmmakers. It is also an affiliate of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), an institutional member of the Southeast Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA) and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). 

The organisation preserves Asia’s rich film heritage in a permanent collection and promotes a wider critical appreciation of Asia’s cinematic works through initiating programmes like screenings and dialogue sessions. More than just a repository of film, tape and digital materials, AFA aspires to be a hub for the Asian film community.

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