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AVF '87 - Video from South-East Asia

4 September 198710 September 1987

The Australian Video Festival, 1987

Video from South-East Asia
Throughout South East Asia video is emerging as a vital tool, both as a means of democratic communication between people, particularly in countries where forms of expression are limited due to political constraints, and as a means of authentic communication of events and concerns of Asian communities to people in industrialised countries, such as Australia.

Lack of equipment and resources, however, means that video production is still limited to a few key groups. Video practitioners include ‘community' groups, trade unions, and film schools which are now moving from Super 8 to video. Videos that are produced, however, are enthusiastically received as means of 'popular' communication and widely circulated through ad hoc distribution networks.

The aim of the South East Asian program is to indicate the nature of video production in various countries and to give an indication of its future direction, both as a means of visual expression and a tool of communication.

Chris Walker, (Curator).


The Poet as Filmmaker in the Revolution
Poets and electronic media toys in my country have not been friendly, pure sublime users of each other as yet - we thought. Until we faced a Revolution, two Revolutions actually. The first, is a memory of our grandfather's Revolution in 1896 against Spain's colonizers. And the second, a hundred years between them, the war of the grandchildren against the Chaplinesque Great Dictator last February, happening before us like a movie within a movie. We are subject-rich, with two unique Revolutions to do. Mabuhay! Meaning in Tagalog, Live on!

Pictures of the 1896 Philippine Revolution, the first in Asia, had gory, one-sided scenes mostly shot by foreigners and military photographers. Kept and sealed in the Spanish war archives and U.S. vaults, some photographs are still hurting and thought not fit to be seen or used by even the liberated heirs of the Philippine Revolution. Intimate portraits of the Revolutionists on the eve of battle, and who did not return alive, were usually taken by the natives in studios and pasted lovingly in family albums. To make a rounded poet's film of this historic photo-gallery, and connect it to the serendipity of day-to-day events in the latest Revolution, needs the total filmmaker. Nothing must escape his human and camera fish eye, the subtlest whisper of feelings of one woman left by the Revolutionist as well as the public outcry of a whole nation in revolt. While our young one-camera student filmmaker on foot in the "battlefield" covets the rolling electronic gear on Toyota vans or Land Rovers of Japanese, American, German or French film crews etc: ... crashing in on us to get this home-grown Revolution to their 7 o'clock film news via satellite worldwide.

We've only got the scraps, the out-takes, the natives lament. I console the beginning filmmaker rich with material of the revolutions, yet feeling deprived.

The foreign film crews will remain outsiders, I predict, to our Revolutions. Except, when they use the instincts of a poet armed with, say, the Chinese trigram: a clear mind, a feeling heart and a knowing hand. Then, he must know how to connect the hidden meanings of the first Revolution to the other, and can foresee as a practical visionary, the next one. Beginning as a cold technical realist, he must end up as a man so enamoured of this Revolution that, in spite of the cloying sampaguita leis with smoking fishballs, he will grind on. The ABC's, the BBC's, the NBC's and Nippon News have only to satisfy the short appetites of the 7 o'clock news watchers. Very few, however affluent, stay as long as we do. Theirs is a day-to-day service, ours is a life-time stretch. We are the watchers of the wake, staking out the life and death and after-life of this Revolution, it is ours.

Virginia R. Moreno, Director, University of the Philippines Film Centre.


Syrikat Video Farm, Penang, Malaysia.
A video production house aiming “to develop public consciousness among Malaysians on major social challenges".

Asiavision, Manila, Philippines.
Producing videos which provide for "an alternative people's media that projects the struggles and aspirations of the Filipino people and foster solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the Third World."

Mendiola Massacre (1987) 20 mins.
A record of the massacre of peasants as they approached Malacanang Palace to see President Corazon Aquino. In the course of the filming the Asiavision cameraman was shot by the military.

Political Detainees (1987) 50 mins.
Interviews with political detainees arrested by Marcos and released by the Aquino government. 

Sabangan (1983) 25 mins.
A Super 8 and video essay on the Remontado tribe whose ancestral lands are threatened by the construction of a dam.

Retrenched (1986) 30 mins.
Examines the reasons for retrenchments at electronics companies in Penang's Free Trade Zone and looks at workers' opposition movements and the role of state trade unions.

Poverty and Development (1986) 40 mins.
Looks at the proposed development of the Bakun Dam in Sarawak as an example of the prestige projects being pursued under Malaysia's New Economic Policy and its impact on the eradication of poverty and ethnic polarization.

Interim Media, Ozamis City, Mindanao, Philippines
Productions on issues affecting the Philippine island of Mindanao made in conjunction with local communities.

Mindanao Massacres (1984) 5 mins.
News report on the massacre of a whole village by the military during the Marcos period.

University of the Philippines Film Center, Manila, Philippines
The U.P. Film Center is one of the few places in the country where students can train in film and video production. Its work is heavily influenced by the "direct cinema" style developed by the French VARAN film school (who are also active in Papua New Guinea). Although most work has been produced on Super 8, it is now being made on video as well. The productions shown aim to give an indication of the creative direction of independent video and filmmaking in the Philippines.

Already a Father, Also a Mother (1982) 20 mins.
The effect of migration on a father left behind by his wife who has gone to work in Saudi Arabia.
Dir: Rowena Gonzales

Inserts (1985) 6 mins.
People, fast cars, pollution, gas masks, barbed wire, cage. Colouful food, advertisements, malnourished children, American imperialism, religion, statues, saints.
Dir: Roque F. Lee

A Day in the Street Corner in Katipunan Road (1985) 6 mins.
Dir: Fruto Corre

Eternity (1983) 25 mins.
A video about a book called "Eternity": an inventor, a church, crime and eternal life.
Dir: Raymond Red

Underground Farmer (1985) 30 mins.
The story of a peasant farmer who joins the New People's Army.
Dir: Fruto Corre

Mt. Hagen Videos, Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea
Samples of video work produced by video maker Maggie Wilson and local communities in Mt. Hagen in the Highlands of PNG. Titles not available at time of printing.