Fri, Nov 26|
Cinematic Counter-Cartographies of Southeast Asia
A range of places are traversed and identities navigated in figurative cartographic explorations.
Date, Time, & Location
Nov 26, 2021, 12:00 AM GMT+8 – Nov 30, 2021, 11:59 PM GMT+8
About the event
"Even if a film does not display a map as such, by nature, it bears an implicit relation with cartography."
—Tom Conley, Cartographic Cinema (2007)
No literal maps are highlighted in the nine films from Timor Leste, Jakarta, Sabah, Mindanao, Pattani, Chiang Mai, and Rakhine that constitute the program. However, a range of places are traversed and identities navigated in figurative cartographic explorations: mountain hideouts, rolling hills, seaside villages, town centers, rural peripheries, periurban communities, humble abodes, and their denizens and residents—natives, migrants, transients, fugitives, unsettled and displaced, trying to make a home, dreaming of the freedom of mobility. The images are rich with topographical elements, and the narratives offer topographical devices, to guide spectators in understanding what defines locations, be they neighborhoods connected by dirt roads and shorelines, paths snaking through informal settlements, unmarked expanses, and landscapes divided by wired fences.
Rural sociologist Nancy Peluso put forward the notion of counter-mapping to characterize the maps redrawn by forest users in Kalimantan, Indonesia, that sought to contest state maps that eroded the place of indigenous inhabitants of the domain. The same spirit of counter-hegemonic remapping, critical of official discourses on identities and territorial boundaries, quickens the gathering of these films. However, the program also performs a cartographic détournement by taking even the most vaunted ideas that underpin the conventional bases for the regionalization of Southeast Asia, such as the celebration of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism, international security agreements, economic integration, and the fiction of uninterrupted national histories that altogether obscure the disciplining operation of cartographic control, and renders these visible from the differential perspective of lived experience on the ground.
The program maps historical, cultural, political, and economic interconnections and entanglements between and among Southeast Asian islands and offers a comparative opportunity to grapple with the challenges of and responses to territorial overlaps, borderland existence, military aggression, and historical injustices. It does so by moving away from an aerial view of the region, or the topographical process of regionalization on the scale of nations, in favor of a topological interpretation of place—that is, of unfolding the view from somewhere and tracing vital nodal connections that happen beyond or despite changes in topography.
The people we meet in these stories and documentaries bear visions of the region, in their mind’s eyes as sites of personal potential yet unrealized and as material locales where they struggle for survival and meaning. Journeying with them, we can gain insight into the dynamic, situated, and performative process of regional formation and find a Southeast Asia that imbues a local substance to our neighborly imaginings.
* * *
In support of the upcoming launch of the latest volume of PELIKULA: A Journal of Philippine Cinema, the UP Film Institute and the Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas (ASEAC) present the free online screening of Cinematic Counter-Cartographies of Southeast Asia.
Special thanks to Francisca Maia, VCA Film and Television-Faculty of Fine Arts and Music University of Melbourne, Kamila Andini, Fourcolours Films, Bebbra Mailin, Vilashini Somiah, Sheron Dayoc, Bagane Fiola, Keith Bacongco, Abdulromae Taleh, Kunnawut Boonreak, Than Kyaw Htay, and Thadi Htar.
We also wish to thank the Japan Foundation Manila and the UP Diliman - Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts for their support for PELIKULA 6.