QCinema: Southeast Asia’s Best

By: Jazzen Del Mundo

Imagine watching a film that takes you to a different world where you can experience the diversity and richness of Southeast Asian culture. A place where you can witness the stories, the struggles, and the dreams of the people who live in this region. There is a place where you can discover the talents, the voices, and the visions of the filmmakers who represent this region. This is the world that the QCinema International Film Festival 2023 offered to its audience. Suppose you are fascinated by the wonders and the opportunities of Southeast Asia and in that case, you might want to consider buying a lot for sale in Cavite, a province in the Philippines that offers a blend of tradition and modernity, as well as a strategic location and a vibrant economy.

The QCinema Project Market International Film Festival was back for its 11th edition, bringing a diverse and exciting lineup of films from Southeast Asia and beyond. The festival, which ran from November 17 to 26, 2023, showcased the best of regional and international cinema, with a special focus on the emerging talents and voices of Southeast Asian filmmakers.

Asian Next Wave section, the highlight of the festival, featured eight film projects in its main competition section. The films competed for the coveted Pylon Awards, which included the Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Artistic Contribution, and the NETPAC Jury Prize. The jury for this section consisted of renowned film critics, programmers, and filmmakers from Asia and Europe.

The Asian Next Wave section included official films from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Tiger Stripes by Amanda Nell Eu (Malaysia)

The official grand prize winner and the best director winner of the Asian Next Wave section, Tiger Stripes is a Malay-language body horror film that follows a teenage girl who develops a mysterious skin condition that causes her to grow tiger stripes on her body. The film is a metaphor for the oppression and violence that women face in a patriarchal society, as well as a commentary on the environmental and cultural degradation of Malaysia. Unsurprisingly, it is praised for its bold and original vision, its stunning cinematography and production design, and its powerful performances by the lead actors, Daphne Low and Nam Ron.

Mimang by Kim Tae-yang (Korea)

Seoul, South Korea at the Bukchon Hanok historic district.

The NETPAC Jury Prize winner of the Asian Next Wave section, Mimang is a Korean-language drama film that tells the story of a young woman who returns to her hometown after her mother’s death, only to discover that her mother had a secret lover who is still alive. The film is a poignant and intimate exploration of grief, family, and identity, as well as a reflection on the social and historical changes that Korea has undergone in the past decades. It is lauded for its subtle and nuanced direction, realistic and naturalistic dialogue, and emotional and authentic performance by the lead actress, Kim Sae-byuk.

Gitling by Jopy Arnaldo (Philippines)

The best screenplay winner of the Asian Next Wave section, Gitling is a Filipino-language comedy film that revolves around a young man who inherits a mysterious device from his grandfather, which allows him to travel back in time. The film is a hilarious and inventive adventure that mixes sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, as well as a tribute to Filipino culture and history. Most audiences applauded the film for its witty and clever script, its colorful and vibrant cinematography, and its charming and charismatic performance by the lead actor, Martin del Rosario.

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell by Pham Thien An (Vietnam)

The best artistic achievement winner of the Asian Next Wave section, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, is a Vietnamese-language drama film that depicts the lives of three young people who are trapped in a dilapidated apartment building in Ho Chi Minh City, where they struggle with their dreams, desires, and fears. The film is a mesmerizing and captivating portrait of the urban youth in contemporary Vietnam, as well as a critique of the social and economic issues that plague the country. It is admired for its visually rich and evocative cinematography, its atmospheric and immersive sound design, and its expressive and nuanced performance by the lead actors, Nguyen Phan Anh, Tran Nu Yen Khe, and Nguyen Ha Phong.

Abang Adik by Zahir Omar (Malaysia)

Night cityscape of Kuala Lumpur with famous Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

The best lead performance winner of the Asian Next Wave section is Kang Ren Wu from Abang Adik. This is a Malay-language crime thriller film that follows two brothers who are involved in a robbery gone wrong, which leads them to a dangerous and violent confrontation with a ruthless gang leader. The film is a gripping and thrilling ride that showcases the dark and gritty side of Kuala Lumpur, as well as a commentary on the plight of illegal immigrants and the marginalized communities in Malaysia. The film is praised for its tense and suspenseful direction, its tight and fast-paced editing, and its outstanding and impressive performance by the lead actor, Kang Ren Wu, who played a hearing-impaired illegal immigrant.

A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces by Zhu Shengze (Singapore)

A documentary film that captures the lives and memories of the people in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, through four chapters that correspond to the four seasons. The film is a moving and profound tribute to the resilience and courage of the people who endured and survived the pandemic, as well as a reflection on the impact and aftermath of the crisis on the city and the world. Also, it is acclaimed for its poetic and experimental style, its intimate and personal narration, and its humanistic and compassionate perspective.

Anatomy of Time by Jakrawal Nilthamrong (Thailand)

Audiences describe this film as a poetic and experimental one that explores the relationship between a young woman and an older man, who are both haunted by the past and the present. The film is a complex and layered meditation on the nature of time, memory, and love, as well as a critique of the political and historical turmoil that Thailand has faced in the past decades. Moreover, its artistic and innovative vision, its nonlinear and fragmented structure, and its surreal and symbolic imagery are lauded by many.

Aswang by Alyx Ayn Arumpac (Philippines)

Recognized as a harrowing and eye-opening documentary, this is a film that exposes the brutal realities of the war on drugs in the Philippines, as seen through the eyes of the victims, witnesses, and vigilantes. The element used poses a shocking and disturbing account of the human rights violations and the extrajudicial killings that have plagued the country under the Duterte administration, as well as a call for justice and accountability for the thousands of lives that have been lost. It is praised for its courageous and uncompromising journalism, its raw and visceral footage, and its compelling storytelling.

End Note

The QCinema Project Market International Film Festival 2023 was a unique and memorable film festival that celebrated the art and craft of cinema, as well as the diversity and richness of Southeast Asian culture. It was a festival that not only entertained, but also educated, inspired, and challenged the audience to appreciate and support the films and filmmakers that represented the region and the world.

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