In eleven film programs over four days, Electric Shadows Asian Film Festival invites curious cinephiles to discover a diverse selection of wilful films from Asia.
We open with a restored classic: Kummatty by Govindan Aravindan, a key figure of Parallel Cinema in India. Together with Thamp, another Aravindan gem, it gives new insights in the legacy of Indian cinema. The closing film of the festival will be The New Old Play by Chinese artist and filmmaker Qiu Jiongjiong, who explores how artistic independence and shifting political powers intertwine in Chinese history.
In between opening and closing film, Electric Shadows serves an abundance of surprising perspectives on what film, and Asian cinema, can be. We focus on little screened house-hold names such as Tsai Ming-liang and Nguyen Trinh Thi as well as on up-and-coming cineastes. You can find the entire program here.
During the first edition of Electric Shadows in September 2021, we presented a retrospective selection of short and mid-length films by essayistic filmmaker Nguyen Trinh Thi. Works like Vietnam the Movie (2016) and Fifth Cinema (2018) examine how images, ideas and words connect and clash, shaping the troubled past of her home country Vietnam, with aftereffects in the present day.
Using a multitude of materials – historical footage, postcards, Hollywood movies and much more – her films embody the complexity and continuous restructuring of history. Until August 31, Fifth Cinema is part of the online program at e-flux.
Previous films already questioned the dominant presence of imagery in our view of the word, Vietnam in particular. With her latest, How to Improve the World (2021), part of our second edition, Nguyen reflects on the differences in how memory is processed between the culture of the eye and that of the ear, while observing the loss of land, forests, and the way of life of the indigenous people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
On her website, Nguyen says: “As our globalised and westernised cultures have come to be dominated by visual media, I feel the need and responsibility as a filmmaker to resist this narrative power of the visual imagery, and look for a more balanced and sensitive approach in perceiving the world by paying more attention to aural landscapes, in line with my interests in the unknown, the invisible, the inaccessible, and in potentialities.”
In exactly two months’ time, the second edition of Electric Shadows will open at De Cinema in Antwerp. Starting today, we’ll gradually reveal the films to be screened between 29/9 and 2/10.
Last year’s festival ended with a screening of Tsai Ming-liang’s latest feature film Days (2020). We’re happy to announce that his work will return during our next edition. A program of his most recent shorts accentuates Tsai’s continued focus on patient observation within small-scale projects.
The Night (2021) offers a look at street life in Hong Kong after the sun has set and the frenzy of the city Tsai calls the Pearl of the East has subsided. Local music played a vital role in the creation of this short. It did too for The Moon and the Tree (2021), in which Tsai films two performers: ‘Moon singer’ Lee Pei-jing and actor Chang Feng.
Both shorts absorb the rhythm of their locations and the people inhabiting them. In Wandering (2021), Tsai revisits his well-known Walker series at an exhibition at the Dune in Yilan, Taiwan, where the eight films featuring actor Lee Kang-sheng as a slow-paced monk were being shown. Their static shots of slow movements in a high-speed environment have become an embodiment of Tsai’s aesthetical and philosophical approach.