Thursday, January 15, 2004

Call for Papers
New Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference: Where Big Budget Meets No Budget

May 3rd-4th 2004, Singapore

The last few years have seen the emergence of art films from Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore even as authoritarian regimes collapsed, and the ensuing economic downturn signaled the end or near-ending of mainstream filmmaking industries. These films, sometimes little known or unpopular in their own countries, have been making the international film festivals circuit and attracting much critical attention from Cannes to Singapore to Japan, Vancouver and Montreal. Concurrently, there has also been a revival of more commercial films such as Iron Ladies, Ong Bak, Suriyothai (Thailand) and Ada Apa Dengan Cinta (Indonesia) in local cinemas. Globalization, the internet, video piracy and the creation of niche market art cinemas have also meant that films from neighbouring ASEAN countries are being viewed in metropolitan cities like Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. In addition, the development of digital video technology has spawned groups of young eager filmmakers and video activists throughout the region who are producing quick, low-budget films. Confronting budget constraints, those trained in the west in film and video production have also seized the new media to make newer cheaper films.

How are these films breaking from the moulds of their national cinematic traditions? In establishing difference from the commercial mainstream of melodramas or ‘bomba’ cinemas, are SEAsian avant garde films merely reverting to an older Western avant garde cinematic tradition like the French New Wave? Or are there other trends that are equally influential in this deterritorialised space and age? Are we beyond theories of postcolonial Third Cinema? How do filmmakers balance popular viewing desires with their own desire for making art? What makes a Malaysian film uniquely Malaysian? Can these Third World narratives be read as national allegories? If not, how should they be read and in what context?

This conference seeks to showcase and create academic and social discourse among scholars, film critics, buffs and media activists about the multiple new cinemas from the region. We want to create better awareness of film as both an artistic expression and ideological and educational tool and to provide a forum and international networking for participants.

We hope to publish selected papers in an edited book on Emerging Southeast Asian Cinemas after the conference.

We welcome paper abstracts that:
* explore and analyse the complexities and problems of the current industries in any Southeast Asian country: effects of funding, censorship, bureaucratic and state policies in production, distribution, exhibition, etc.
* employ critical approaches from film theory, film aesthetics and reception studies to discuss Southeast Asian films
* focus on sociological, anthropological, cultural, postcolonial aspects (including questions of race, gender, class, sexual/queer identities, ideology) of Southeast Asian films
* discuss independent filmmaking as opposed to mainstream national cinema
* reflect SEAsian diasporic film perspectives of SEAsia
* deal in-depth with specific SEAsian film genres: horror, romance, comedy, melodrama, documentary, war, video essay, sexploitation/bomba, etc.

deadline: February 15th, 2004

Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to Khoo Gaik Cheng:

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