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Focus Asia November 2006 Film Info


Information about the films (in alphabetical order).


A State of Mind (2004) Directed by Daniel Gordon
An observational film following two young gymnasts and their families for over eight months in the lead up to the Mass Games- involving a cast of thousands in a choreographed socialist realism spectacular- the biggest and most elaborate human performance on earth. The film provides a rare glimpse into what is one of the world’s least known societies. North Korea is sealed off from outside influences. It borders China and Russia to the north, and to the south there is a 4km wide impenetrable border with South Korea. The country follows its own communist ideals, a strict philosophy known as the Juche Idea wrapped around the worship of the Kim dynasty – Kim II Sung, their Eternal President who died in 1994 but remains Head of State, and his son and successor, Kim Jong II, known as the General. (93 min.)

China Blue (2005) Directed by Micha X. Peled
China Blue takes us inside a blue-jeans factory, where Jasmine and her friends are trying to survive a harsh working environment. But when the factory owner agrees to a deal with his Western client that forces his teenage workers to work around the clock, a confrontation becomes inevitable. Shot clandestinely in China, under difficult conditions, this is a deep-access account of what both China and the international retail companies don’t want us to see – how the clothes we buy are actually made. (86 min.)


FLYOVERDELHI (2004) Directed by Paolo Favero and Angelo Fontana
Based on an anthropological research on modernity and globalization in New Delhi, FLYOVERDELHI offers a series of snapshots on the life of young middle class men and women in this Indian metropolis. Young managers, sports professionals, journalists, tourist guides, airline hostesses, and dj’s tell their experiences of growing up in a country that since 1991 has definitely opened up to the global market. The changes in lifestyles, the relationship to tradition, the growth of feelings of pride towards an India projected, in their visions, to become one of the leading powers in the world, the ideas of the ‘West’, issues of love, sex and marriage, are the themes addressed by the characters presented in the film. With a visual language echoing the one of the video-clip alternated with more, stylistically speaking, ‘classical’ moments, the film introduces the viewer to a modern India seldom depicted in Western mass media, awakening also questions regarding the meaning of globalization in today’s world. (53 min)
 

Highway Courtesans (2004) Directed by Mystelle Brabbee
This documentary chronicles the story of young women living in the Bachara community in rural India—the last hold-out of a custom that started with ancient palace courtesans and survives today with the sanctioned prostitution of every Bachara family’s oldest daughter. Guddi, Shana and their neighbor Sungita serve a daily stream of roadside truckers to support their families. Their work as prostitutes forms the core of the local economy, but their contemporary ideas about freedom of choice, gender and self-determination slowly intrude on the Bachara way of life. Beautifully filmed and remarkably candid, this provocative coming-of-age film follows Guddi Chauhan from age 16 to 23 as she struggles to realize her dreams in a community caught between traditional and contemporary values. (71 min.)


Sacrifice (1999) Directed by Ellen Bruno
Each year thousands of young girls are recruited from rural Burmese villages to work in the sex industry in neighboring Thailand. Held for years in debt bondage in illegal Thai brothels, they suffer extreme abuse by pimps, clients, and the police. The trafficking of Burmese girls has soared in recent years as a direct result of political repression in Burma. Human rights abuses, war and ethnic discrimination has displaced hundreds of thousands of families, leaving families with no means of livelihood. An offer of employment in Thailand is a rare chance for many families to escape extreme poverty. Sacrifice examines the social, cultural, and economic forces at work in the trafficking of Burmese girls into prostitution in Thailand. It is the story of the valuation and sale of human beings, and the efforts of teenage girls to survive a personal crisis born of economic and political repression. (50 min.)
 

The New God (1999) Directed by Yutaka Tsuchiya
In The New God, Yutaka Tsuchiya , a leftist/anarchist filmmaker, hands his camera over to “the enemy,” Karin Amamiya, a young singer in right-wing punk band, The Revolutionary Truth. As she turns the camera on herself and her own ideological struggles, surfaces crumble, hidden uncertainties spring forth, and new connections and discoveries are made. An honest and humorous postdocumentary about the new Japanese that deals with provocative issues of the state vs. the individual, and dependence vs. autonomy. Through this odd exchange a picture emerges of the Japanese today, desperate to find a place of solid grounding. (99 min.)


The Tsunami Generation (2005) Directed by Folke Rydén
This is the untold story of the Aceh province in the wake of the Tsunami disaster in which 200.000 people perished and half a million became homeless. In the following turmoil, the Indonesian government, religious organisations and the GAM guerrilla all aspired to gain from the new situation with promises of rebuilding Aceh. At the same time hundreds of NGOs descended upon the province with more donor money than ever before. Caught in the middle of this mayhem were survivors struggling to grasp the unimaginable - with personal experiences beyond belief. This is when The Tsunami Generation begins its story of the new Aceh. Over the course of the year several compelling stories unfold. (52 min.)


To Live is Better than to Die (2003) Directed by Weijun Chen
A heartbreaking story from Wenlou, a small village in central China, where more than 30% of the villagers are infected with HIV because they made a little extra money selling their blood in the early 90s. The director Weijun Chen spent months in the village with farmer Ma Shengyi and his family. Ma Shengyi, his wife, and the two youngest of their three children are all infected. (59 min.)


Trading Women (2003) Directed by David A. Feingold
Trading Women is a documentary that investigates the trade in minority girls and women from Burma, Laos and China into the Thai sex industry. The culmination of 5 years of field research, the film shatters Western myths about the sex trade: "Its part of their culture to sell their daughters;" "The problem is the parents;" "It's because of Western sex tours;" "They sell girls for TVs." The film shows that, in reality, trafficked hill tribe girls do not land in the bar streets of Bangkok that cater to Westerners -- known to tourists, journalists and film-goers alike. They move into a world, far more hidden, and, as one character in the film says, "far more sinister" And far more likely to infect them with HIV/AIDS. The film takes us into that world, meeting girls, brothel owners, and traffickers, as well as those seeking to combat the trade. It also shows the casual, everyday nature of police corruption. It is the first film to show the relationship of the trade in drugs to the trade in women. Filmed in China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, New York, and Washington, D.C., this is the only film to follow the trade in women in all its complexity, and to explore the international response to the issue. (60 min.)


VIETNAM: The Next Generation (2003) Directed by Sandy Northrop
Thirty years ago, the only future that awaited young Vietnamese was war. But how have those born in the war’s aftermath capitalized on the dividends of peace? The film profiles the lives of seven young Vietnamese, revealing the challenges, choices and dreams that shape their lives, and that of their generation. Vietnam's first postwar generation is coming of age, and its members—now in their 20s and 30s—are seizing opportunities unimaginable in their parents' time. Communism is losing its relevancy, the doors of a free-market economy are opening and memories of the war are being relegated to the distant past. This generation, representing 80 percent of Vietnam's population, is making up for lost time, exploring all the benefits and costs of their country's new economic and cultural future. (57 min.)
 

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