10 CinemAsia Doc tips to get through Quarantine

Martijn van Veen CinemAsia Update

CinemAsia has had the fortune to hold its 2020 edition of CinemAsia Film Festival this past March. More than a month later such an event has become unthinkable. Words such as social distancing and self isolation have entered our daily lexicon and people who do not practice a crucial profession are adviced to work from home and everyone is asked to stay home as much as possible.

Even though being couped up at home might be trying, it also offers opportunities. For instance it grants the possibility to fill your appetite for Asian Cinema. In the last two weeks we have shared 10 filmtips and 10 tips for asian series, but of course there are also wonderful Asian documentaries to explore. That’s why we follow up with a list of 10 documentaries to lift your spirits and help you get through this period of self isolation.

1. Tokyo Idols

52 min – Miyake Kyoko
UK/Canada/Japan, 2017
NPO Start

Girl bands and their pop music permeate every moment of Japanese life. Following an aspiring pop singer and her fans, Tokyo Idols explores a cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality, and the growing disconnect between men and women in hyper-modern societies.

2. Jalanan

107 minDaniel Ziv
Indonesia, 2015
Vimeo on Demand

The captivating story of three gifted and charismatic bus musicians in Jakarta as they perform songs of social angst, get caught in political unrest, face family crises and get locked up by police.

Jalanan was screened at CinemAsia Film Festival 2015.

3. Please Remember Me

78 min – Zhao Qing
China, 2015
IDFA Collection

87-year-old Alzheimer’s patient Lou has forgotten everyone but her husband Feng, who has been her only caretaker for the past 10 years. Yet after a medical check-up, Feng was diagnosed with a pancreas mass. The man who went through a life of hardship in good spirits finally bursts into tears. Before going to the hospital, he takes her out shopping and makes her pretty. Does it mean their time of separation is coming near? Can they still live a life with dignity and freedom?

4. Ramen Heads

93 min – Shigeno Koki
Japan, 2017
Itunes, Youtube or Google Play

Osamu Tomita, Japan’s reigning king of ramen, takes us deep into his world, revealing every single step of his obsessive approach to creating the perfect soup and noodles, and his relentless search for the highest-quality ingredients. In addition to Tomita’s story, the film also profiles five other notable ramen shops, each with its own philosophy and flavour, which exemplify various different aspects the ramen world. Mixing in a brief rundown of ramen’s historical roots, the film gives viewers an in-depth look at the culture surrounding this unique and beguiling dish.

Ramen Heads was screened at CinemAsia Film Festival 2018

5. Position among the Stars

112 min – Leonard Retel Helmrich
Netherlands / Indonesia , 2010
NPO Start

Through the eyes of grandmother Rumidjah, a poor old Christian woman living in the slums of Jakarta, we see the economical changing society of Indonesia and the influence of globalization reflected in the life of her juvenile granddaughter Tari and her sons Bakti and Dwi. Director and DOP Leonard Retel Helmrich follows this family in a unique way with his breathtaking Single Shot Cinema-technique. Without interviews and voice-overs, Leonard will bring you closer to Indonesia than you will ever get.

6. A Foley Artist

100 min – Wang Wan-jo
Taiwan, 2016
Vimeo on Demand

The story of a professional Foley artist, Mr. Hu Ding-Yi, to trace the history of sound-production in Taiwanese films, while extends to a broader view of the entire Chinese-speaking film industry (including Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.)

A Foley Artist was screened at CinemAsia Film Festival 2018.

7. Planet of Snail

87 min – Yi Seung-jun
South Korea, 2011
Itunes or Google Play

Young-Chan comes from planet of snail where deaf blind people live slow and quiet lives. Then an angel walked into his life. Soon-Ho knows how it is to be lonely and soon becomes an inseparable part of his life. However, Soon-Ho cannot always be there for him because of her own problem of spine disability. The couple now should learn to survive alone. While Soon-Ho uneasily spends her first day waiting for his return, Young-Chan goes out for the biggest adventure of his life.

8. Placebo

94 min – Abhay Kumar
India, 2014

In one of the toughest undergrad schools in the world, a film maker infiltrates a complex mindscape of ambition and restless youth. In the hallways of excellence, something sinister is at work- and those who inhabit them, must fight these monsters within.

9. Made in Korea

73 min – In-Soo Radstake
Netherlands, 2006
Amazon Prime

Adopted from Korea as a baby by a Dutch couple, Radstake is now searching for his true identity. He joins other adoptees from the same Holland flight and visits the orphanage in Seoul where he once lived. At first, he focuses on his fellow adoptees, but as his search progresses, his story gets more personal as he tries to find his biological mother.

10. Silk Road of Pop

53 min – Sameer Farooq, Ursula Engel
China, 2012
Vimeo on Demand

On the distant northwest edge of China lies Xinjiang, a vast region of snow-capped mountains, barren deserts and gritty market cities. Here, along the ancient Silk Road, music is one of the hottest commodities. Yet, around the music lies a troubling reality. Engaged in an identity tug-of-war, the region’s main population – the Uyghur Muslims – are gradually watching their populations dwindle as they are engulfed by a predominant Han Chinese settlement.  The Silk Road of Pop captures the challenges of a minority group in China and the explosive music scene it results in.

Silk Road of Pop was Screened at CinemAsia Film Festival 2013