The modern era is being shaped by the emerging economic and political power of the East, giving this area of study ever-increasing significance.
Asian Studies Collection
I Am Here | Director: Lixin Fan
Year of production: 2014 | Country of production: China | Language: Chinese, Mandarin (with full English subtitles available)
The summer of 2013 saw a group of young boys enter a Chinese TV talent show called Super Boy, hoping to be catapulted to fame. Here we accompany the young candidates on the grueling run-up to the grand finale. The intensive preparation, culminating in a two-month boot camp, tests their self-image as well as their singing and dancing skills. Standing at the cusp of adulthood in a highly competitive society, the competitors wrestle with some tough questions: What kind of person are you? What do you want to be?
Reach for the Sky | Director: Steven Dhoedt Choi Wooyoung
Year of production: 2015 | Country of production: Belgium, Korea (South) | Language: Korean (with full English subtitles available)
Every year, on the 2nd Thursday of November, the entire country of South-Korea is put to the test. That day, more than half a million high school seniorstudents take part in the National University Exam, better known as Suneung.
Reach for the Sky tells the story of several South-Korean high school students, their families and teachers, as they prepare for the annual National Exam. The exam will not only determine where the high school seniors will attend university but ultimately also their status in the Korean hierarchical society.
The World Before Her | Director: Nisha Pahuja
Year of production: 2012 | Country of production: India, USA | Language: English, Hindi (with full English subtitles available)
The Miss India pageant is the ultimate glamour event in a country that has gone mad for beauty contests. Winning the coveted title means instant stardom, a lucrative career path and, for some girls, freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society. As the beauty contestants move through beauty boot camp, Director Nicha Pahuja travels to another corner of India to visit a different camp for young girls, the women's wing of the militant fundamentalist movement. Through lectures and physical combat training, these girls learn what it means to be good Hindu women and how to fight against Islam, Christianity and the onslaught of Western culture.
Yang Ban Xi | Director: Yan Ting Yuen
Year of production: 2005 | Country of production: Netherlands | Language: Chinese, Dutch, English (with full English subtitles available)
A documentary musical about the rise and fall of China's colorful propaganda opera's during the 1965-1975 Cultural Revolution and their renewed popularity in modern day China. Yang Ban Xi is the name given to the eight operas written to celebrate China's communist revolution. Based on traditional Chinese stories, the operas were adapted into pure propaganda told through beautiful images, incorporating the most modern techniques of cinematography, song, and dance. These operas were the only culture allowed in China for 10 years.
Inside the Chinese Closet | Director: Sophia Luvarà
Year of production: 2015 | Country of production: Netherlands | Language: Chinese (with full English subtitles available)
The intricate tale of Andy and Cherry looking for love and happiness in Shanghai. They are homosexual but their families demand a (heterosexual) marriage and a baby from them. Because being single and childless would mean an unacceptable loss of face for their rural families in the remote countryside where they live. Will Andy and Cherry deny their happiness and sexual orientation to satisfy their parents’ wishes? Their stories mirror the legal and cultural progress that is happening in China against the backdrop of a nation coming to terms with new moral values.
DHARAVI Slum for sale | Director: Rob Appleby, Lutz Konermann
Year of production: 2010 | Country of production: Switzerland | Language: Hindi (with full English subtitles available)
At the heart of the constantly growing megacity Mumbai lies Dharavi, India's biggest slum. Close to a million immigrants from all over the country live and work here, contributing a vital share to the city's economy. In this no-man's land urban planner Mukesh Mehta sees his chance of a lifetime. Dharavi is to be knocked down and its profitable real estate to be turned into billions of Dollars. "Dharavi, Slum for Sale" follows the struggle between tradition and modernity and the fight of the underprivileged to defend their homes and livelihoods against mounting globalisation.
State of Play | Director: Steven Dhoedt
Year of production: 2013 | Country of production: Belgium | Language: Korean (with full English subtitles available)
In Seoul, hundreds of young boys compete to be the best at one single video game: Starcraft. As top players earn hundreds of thousands of euros, being a professional gamer isn’t only a wise career move, it is also the path to respect and credibility in the highly competitive society of South Korea.
The stars of the Starcraft league are national celebrities, participating on all levels of popular culture.But what happens when play becomes work? For some it will be a struggle to stay on top of their game, for others it might be the turning point of their lives.
The Look of Silence | Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Year of production: 2014 | Country of production: Denmark, Indonesia, United Kingdom | Language: Indonesian, Javanese (with full English subtitles available)
Through Joshua Oppenheimer’s work filming perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered and the identity of the men who killed him. The youngest brother is determined to break the spell of silence and fear under which the survivors live, and so confronts the men responsible for his brother's murder – something unimaginable in a country where killers remain in power.
The Act Of Killing | Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Year of production: 2012 | Country of production: Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom | Language: Indonesian (with full English subtitles available)
In a country where killers are celebrated as heroes, the filmmakers challenge unrepentant death squad leader Anwar Congo and his friends to dramatise their role in genocide. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to be stars in their favourite film genres—gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims. This is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.
Last Harvest | Director: Hui Wang (Jane)
Year of production: 2015 | Country of production: Canada | Language: Chinese (with full English subtitles available)
Following the remarkable journey of Mr. and Mrs. Xu, an elderly Chinese farming couple, on a forced relocation by the government’s mammoth South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Lyrical and intimate, the film brings us into the life of two compelling peasants facing major disruption late in life. It continues the story where other documentaries left off – after the people have been relocated and have to re-build their lives, and offers a direct experience of the collision between traditional culture and modernization, through which we see the imminent extinction of Old China as New China emerge.