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Asia

Global Lens titles from Asia.

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WRETCHED LIVES (Hubog)
Director: Joel Lamangan
Philippines   |   2001   |   102 minutes
Tagalog, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis Wretched Lives focuses on Vanessa, a cosmetics consultant who is forced to care for her troubled and mentally challenged sister after the sudden death of their mother. Her hustler boyfriend, Olivier, seems unreliable and Vanessa soon abandons him for Uno, an ostensibly liberal and caring substitute. But Uno isn’t exactly as he seems. In fact, he makes Olivier’s petty crimes look like a choirboy’s indiscretions, underscoring the film’s critical premise: the corruption of the political elite and their exploitation of the poor. Set in the early nineties, during the short-lived and ill-fated reign of Joseph Estrada, the film offers up a society in hellish microcosm. Central to Wretched Lives is its outrage at the manipulation of the poor for purely political purposes. When riots are staged, organizers use the poor as a front and then abandon them, leaving them to distrust even those who actually try to support them. Liberals are only public liberals; when they come home, they follow a completely different agenda. Innocence is a license to be abused.

About the Director Joel Lamangan studied at theatre, film and television schools in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Germany, Cuba and Australia. He acted and directed for stage and television before moving into feature films. His films include the award-winning Pangako ng Kahapon (1994), The Flor Contemplacion Story (1995), Bulaklak ng Maynila (1999), and Muling Umawit ang Puso (1995).

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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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SHADOW KILL (Nizhalkkuthu)
Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
India   |   2002   |   92 minutes
Hindi, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis A hangman in a southern Indian village who has spent his life carrying out politically motivated executions is now old and so wracked with guilt that he takes to heavy drinking and praying to the goddess Kali to forgive his sins. Veteran director Adoor Gopalakrishnan sets the film in 1941, the violent cusp of Indian independence, pitting Gandhian principles against the harsher traditions of punishment and retribution. The subtly nuanced performances bring the ever-present questions to bear on today's political debate.


About the director One of the leading lights of the New Indian Cinema, Adoor Gopalakrishnan was born in 1941. He started acting on the amateur stage at the age of eight, and, as a student, wrote and directed over twenty plays. After graduating in Political Science and Economics, he joined the Film Institute in Pune in 1962. Equipped with formal training in Script Writing and Direction, he went on to write and direct nine feature films and more than two dozen shorts and documentaries. His first film, Swayamvaram won the national awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Photography, and Best Actress, setting a record of sorts. His film, Kathapurushan also won him the national award for the Best Feature Film in all Indian languages. He has won the national award for Best Director four times, and Best Scriptwriter three times. His films have been shown in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rotterdam, and Toronto, and festivals around the world. Adoor's third feature, Elippathayam won him the coveted British Film Institute Award for the most original and imaginative film of 1982. The International Film Critics Prize (FIPRESCI) has gone to him five times successively for Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Mathilukal, Vidheyan and Kathapurushan.


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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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ANGEL ON THE RIGHT (Farishtay Kitfi Rost)
Director: Djamshed Usmonov
Tajikistan   |   2002   |   90 minutes
Tajik, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis Hamro, an unrepentant prodigal son straight out of a Russian jail, returns to his hometown to help his mother die with dignity. But his debts are many and long overdue, the townspeople are tough as nails, and he gets more than he expected from the quiet village. In this dark comedy, his third feature, writer-director Djamshed Usmonov casts the town's population as its own persuasive self and his own mother and brother as the fractured yet formidable domestic couple.


About the Director Born in Asht, Tajikistan in 1965, Djamshed Usmonov graduated from the Theater Department at Dushanbe Fine Arts School in Tajikistan. He has been working in the film industry since 1986 as a director, producer, screenwriter, and an editor for fiction, animation and documentary films. He worked predominantly at the Tajikfilm Studio in Dushanbe. Djamshed has also appeared as an actor in 1990's "Yellow Grass Time" (dir. Mariam Yussupova, Tajikistan) and 2000's "The Road" (dir. Darezhan Omirbaev, Kazakhstan). He currently lives between Paris, Moscow and Tajikistan.


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Featured in the Global Lens 2004 film series.

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UNIFORM (Zhifu)
Director: Diao Yinan
China   |   2003   |   92 minutes
Mandarin, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis Filmed on a shoestring budget in the city of Xi'an, Shaanxi province, this deceptively simple first feature perfectly illustrates a Chinese saying "the clothes enter before the person". A young tailor finds his life improving in a variety of ways when he - innocently at first - starts wearing a policeman's uniform left unclaimed in his family's laundry shop. Diao Yinan cleverly layers metaphors without elaborating, but the sly humor and undemonstrative narrative style allow the viewer to decipher the many secrets and lives being lived in contemporary Chinese society. Shot in video, adding a grainy, gritty look, this accomplished work typifies the style of the next generation of emerging Chinese filmmakers.

About the Director Diao Yinan was born in Xi'an, Shanxi Province, China, in 1969. He attended the Central Academy of Drama, where he graduated in 1992 with a degree in literature and screenwriting. From there he went on to collaborate on three screenplays: Spicy Love Soup (1998), Shower (1999) and All The Way (2001). As an actor, he has starred in Yu Lik Wai's All Tomorrow's Parties (2003). Uniform is Diao Yinan's directorial debut.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2005 film series.

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LET THE WIND BLOW (Hava Aney Dey)
Director: Partho Sen-Gupta
India   |   2004   |   93 minutes
Hindi and English, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopisis At the height of nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan, Arjun and his best friend, Chabia, weigh their options for the future against the reality of life on the streets of Mumbai. Enticed by the promise of wealth and opportunity in the Persian Gulf, Chabia is eager to leave his job as a mechanic. But for Arjun, who must finish college and care for his mother, the decision is not so easy in director Partho Sen-Gupta's gritty, apocalyptic interpretation of Krishna's counsel to Arjuna, from the Bhagavad Gita.

About the Director Partho Sen-Gupta was born in Bombay, India in 1965. He started his career as an art department apprentice in the studios of ‘Bollywood’ in 1982. He is an award-winning production designer and art director, and has worked on numerous Indian and foreign films, television programs and theater productions. In 1993, he was awarded a scholarship to study film direction at La FEMIS, in Paris. He has directed several award-winning short films, which have been official selections at film festivals throughout Europe. In 2005, he was invited by the Cinefondation of the Cannes Film Festival to attend the festival as part of a group of promising young filmmakers. Later that year, he directed the documentary, Shakti Timeless, about the Indo-Western fusion group, Shakti, tracing its history from the '70s to the present. Let the Wind Blow is his first feature film.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2008 film series.

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BUFFALO BOY
Director: Nguyen-Vô Nghiem-Minh
Vietnam   |   2004   |   102 minutes
Vietnamese, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Vietnam’s official submission to the 2006 Academy Awards

Synopsis Set in the lowlands of southern Vietnam, this powerful coming of age tale is a richly textured and stunningly visual reflection of the rhythms of daily life and culture determined by water. The flooded landscape serves to tell the story of the relationship between a father and son, the cycles of life, and the inescapable flow of all things. When young Kim, out of necessity, joins the nomadic life of the buffalo herders he is exposed to a complex, brutal way of existence. He must find his own way and sense of self in this male world of endurance, betrayal, and uncertainty, which can also offer friendship and independence. Minh Nguyen-Vo presents this mythic tale with indelible images of the majestic and sacred buffalos charging through flood waters contrasted with the solitary rower gliding through the waters, each representing opposite phases of the spiritual and moving journey.

About the Director Nguyen-Vô Nghiem-Minh grew up in a small town in Vietnam during the war. To escape the fighting and atrocities all around, he spent a great deal of time in his youth in the town's one-room movie theater. He studied in France and the U.S., graduating with a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from UCLA. After years of doing research in optics, he decided to concentrate on filmmaking. Buffalo Boy, his first feature, was in Official Competition and won the special prize from the Youth Jury at the 2004 Locarno International Film Festival. 

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Featured in the Global Lens 2005 film series.


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OF LOVE AND EGGS (Rindu Kami Padamu)
Director: Garin Nugroho
Indonesia   |   2004   |   90 minutes
Bahasa-Indonesian, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis In frustration, a young woman calls out to her father, who stands no more than twenty feet away from her in a crowded mosque, Speak to me! I can't hear you! A teacher hands the anguished father a microphone, whispering, use this. She'll hear you when you use this. To the cheers of the crowd, the father speaks into the microphone, telling his daughter how much he loves her. This film brings this gentle humor to complex relationships between parents and children, and to social and religious issues of life in and around a Jakarta mosque, through the eyes and voices of children, and the powerful imagery of a prayer rug, young love and eggs.

About the Director Garin Nugroho was born in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 1961, and studied filmmaking at the Institut Kesenian Jakarta. He has taught filmmaking at the Institut, made numerous documentaries and two short dramas, and also worked as a film critic for Indonesian newspapers before making his first feature film, Leaf on a Pillow (1999). His feature films include Birdman Tale (2002), And the Moon Dances (1995), and Tokyo (1998). Of Love and Eggs is his fifth feature film.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2007 film series.


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DAM STREET (Hong Yan)
Director: Li Yu
China   |   2005   |   93 minutes
Mandarin, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis In the early 1980s, Xiao Yun, a sixteen year-old girl living in small riverside town in China, discovers she is pregnant. The local community is stunned, her family loses face and she and her boyfriend are expelled from school. In the aftermath, her boyfriend leaves her, and she gives birth and is then forced to put her child up for adoption. Ten years later, her relationship with her family strained and ostracized by residents of the town, Xiao Yunn is reduced to working as a singer in a local song and dance troupe. And her only real companion is Xiao Yong, a fiercely affectionate boy who protects her from the critical eyes of the community until a marriage proposal discovers the limits of their friendship, and the depth of her unresolved past.

About the Director Li Yu was born in 1973 in Shangdong Province in Northern China. She earned a degree in Chinese literature and became one of the top TV hosts in China. After moving to Beijing she began working on documentaries, joining CCTV's (China Central Television) feature program “Life Space.” Her documentaries include Sisters (1999). Her first feature film, Fish and Elephant (2001) was internationally–acclaimed. Dam Street is her second feature film.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2007 film series.

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STOLEN LIFE
Director: Li Shaohong
China   |   2005   |   90 minutes
Madarin, with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Synopsis A young girl is taken to live with her aunt and grandmother in Beijing. As an adolescent, Yanni is withdrawn and reclusive, believing that she has been abandoned by her parents, and that she has no control over either her life or her fate. The fact that her “family” doesn’t have much hope for her future only compounds her depression. Surprising everyone in her hostile household, Yanni is accepted to college. As she prepares to begin her new life, an encounter with a delivery boy triggers a series of unexpected events. Director Li Shaohong takes us, as viewers, on a walk through a discovery of not only life under the city, but also a realistic perspective on the human experience.


About the Director Li Shaohong was born in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China in 1955. As a teenager she served in the military, working in a hospital. She graduated from the Beijing Film Academy and is regarded as a member of the “fifth generation” of filmmakers in China. As one of the most innovative and best-known contemporary women in this generation, Li co-founded Beijing Rosat Film & TV Production Company. Her feature films include Bloody Morning (1990), Family Portrait (1992), Blush (1994), The Red Suit (2000), and Baober in Love (2004). Stolen Life won the Best Narrative Feature at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.


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Featured in the Global Lens 2006 film series.

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BORDER CAFE (Café Transit)
Director: Kambozia Partovi
Iran   |   2005   |   105 minutes
Farsi, Greek, Turkish and Russian with subtitles in English
$24.95
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Irans official submission to the 2006 Academy Awards

Synopsis In a village near Iran's border with Turkey, Reyhan, a young woman with two children, faces a difficult choice when her husband dies.Instead of agreeing to marry her brother-in-law, as required by traditional law, she chooses to support her family by re-opening her late husband's restaurant. Kambozia Partovia represents Reyhan's struggle for self-sufficiency in a rigidly traditional environment as all too real, and is continuously pressured to move into her brother-in-law's home and become his second wife.

About the Director Kambozia Partovi was born in the province of Gilan, Iran, and studied dramatic arts at Tehran University. His early work included creating the children’s television program "The Green Frog." He filmed "The Fish" in war-torn Tehran in 1987. He has worked as a screenwriter on Circle (2000) and Earth and Ashes (2004). Partovi’s films include Golnar (1989), Adults’ Game (1992), and Naneh lala (1997). Border Café (2005) won the Best Screenplay and Best Actress Award at the Fajr International Film Festival in Iran.

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Featured in the Global Lens 2006 film series.


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