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Asian Film Archive announces list of programmes for 2019: Here are the highlights

Back in January, the Asian Film Archive (AFA) announced the return of the Oldham Theatre, newly revamped and equipped with 4K digital and 35mm film format projection capabilities alongside its 132-seater hall.

Alongside its slated April 7 opening, several films were teased to be shown upon its return, including Oily Maniac (1976), a Hong Kong film based on the Orang Minyak legend, Raffles Hotel (1989), directed by Ryu Murakami (of Audition fame), and Medium Rare (1991), Singapore own entry loosely based on the Adrian Lim ritual murders.

Recently, we were invited to preview the upcoming programs that the AFA has lined up for the rest of the year, giving us a better look at what type of films and events will be in store for audiences at the new theatre.

Asian Film Archive Preview pic 0
Karen Chan, Executive Director of the Asian Film Archive.

Glen Goei, Chairman of the AFA, opened the event by expressing his delight at finally launching the cinema the AFA have dreamed of since its inception. Karen Chan, Executive Director of the AFA, echoed his statements, adding that she hopes that many will come to the Oldham Theatre to discover, explore and be inspired by the diversity and depth of Asian cinema.

Here is the list of programmes that has us excited:

Asian Film Archive Preview pic 1
Demons (2018)
Directed by Daniel Hui.

Starting in May, the Singapore International Festival of the Arts (SIFA) will helm their Singular Screens programme as curated by the Asian Film Archive at Oldham Theatre and Screening Room of the Festival House. Singular Screens celebrates the independent and singular visions of filmmakers, featuring an international selection of over 20 films making their Singapore premiere from 18 May to 2 June.

State of Motion 2019: A Fear of Monsters will also return — with an emphasis on Asian monster horror — after its run  in January and February 2019. AFA has announced it will be showcasing a myriad of Asian-based monster films, urging us to explore the transitional appeal and cultural consumption of the horror genre while tracing the transfiguration of monsters.

Asian Film Archive Preview pic 2
Pob (2018)
Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang.

Additionally, as part of State of Motion 2019: A Fear of Monsters, Oldham will house an exclusive theatrical presentation of HBO Asia’s first horror anthology series Folklore, which was created by famed Singaporean director Eric Khoo. Featuring six stories based on Asian myths and superstition, each episode is helmed by a different director accompanied by their own country’s national folklore.

Reframe, a series that examines topics surrounding cinema, will also be a part of the programme, presenting Migratory Times. This particular series showcases a series of fictional Chinese-language films featuring the transitional times around Southeast/East Asia against the broad strokes of political histories.

Spanning different times in history, from postwar Singapore to the cusp of Communist Revolution in China, these films offer the opportunity to examine the intersecting forces that condition how history can be effectively archived and reactivated in aesthetic works.

Finally, several Asian films are slated to make their appearance at the theatre to allow audiences to catch these films which would otherwise be not easily available:

Asian Film Archive Preview pic 3
We Are Little Zombies (2019)
Directed by Makoto Nagahisa.

We Are Little Zombies, a Sundance Film Festival 2019 Grand Jury prize winner, will be making an appearance during the 30th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival. Following the deaths of their parents, four kids decide to form a kick-ass band, all in their quest to find their lost emotions. Heavily inspired by 8-bit video game culture, Makoyo Nagahisa’s directorial debut will run between June and July.  

In September, House of Hummingbird from South Korea will also get a run during the festival circuit. The multi-award winning film, including Busan International Film Festival’s NETPAC Award, weaves a story of adolescence through the eyes of 14-year-old Eun-hee who has been deprived of attention from her own family. Searching her neighbourhood for any form of human connection, she seemingly finds it in the form of her new teacher, Young-ji, who is the first adult who seems to understand her.

There are many other programmes slated to appear through the rest of the year — the Asian Film Archive also hinted at the possibility of more films in addition than the ones shown at the event.

For the current full list of upcoming programmes as well as updates, visit AFA’s website: htttp://asianfilmarchive.org

Photos by Solomon Soh of the DANAMIC team. Other visuals courtesy of HBO Asia, Nikkatsu and 13 Little Pictures.

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Russell Matthew Loh

Yes I have two names. no I'm not Eurasian. Self-professed David Fincher fan.

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