Vietnamese film is a fairly small market due to the massive numbers of American films that are imported into the country. Most of the ones that are made are never actually viewed by an audience, but are made solely for the purpose of winning awards. These films are more often than not are state funded and never see the light of day. Vietnamese films often do not do as well as other films in film festivals due to lack of creativity or artistic qualities. One of the possible solutions would be to get younger directors into film making, the only existing barrier, as usual, is funding.
In one of my previous posts I reviewed the movie “The Raid: Redemption” and its commentary upon the Indonesian drug policies. There was a sequel in the works for quite a while and just recently the trailer has been released:
This film, is looking to draw significantly more money from the American Theater audience than did its predecessor, which gained massive popularity from online viewings and disc copies. Once this sequel gets a release date the numbers will be very indicative of the existing audience for these types of Asian styled “kung-fu” films. The audience has been growing over the years, as these foreign productions have begun to increase in quality.
There was once a time where film technology was only available to those who received funding from the movie producers, and those who didn’t just were not able to make films. As technology has progressed and, in doing so, gotten cheaper, the means of film production has followed suit. Nowadays anyone with a camera can film and use their computer to edit, and realize their film making dreams online. A trend that is beginning to emerge is using this readily available technology to make feature length films, as the South Korean film maker Min Byung-wu did with his film “Cats and Dogs” (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/south-korean-feature-film-shot-660708). In doing this, and this film attaining a theatrical release, he has opened the doors to an entirely unexplored avenue of film production, and potentially allowing for those without the big budget to produce their cinematic visions as well.
There has been a very common trend amongst movie production companies of producing remakes of movies. This trend was originally pretty limited to older movies, but now the limitations have expanded. These remakes now encompass that of foreign films. One of the more recent films to undergo this remake treatment is the South Korean film “Oldboy” (2003). This is a film (based upon an anime) where the main character is imprisoned for 15 years with no apparent reason is set free and seeks vengeance. This film was just recently remade by the director Spike Lee. It seems that within this remake culture we now reside in, that original and creative material is built upon and modernized in order to better connect with whichever audience is being targeted, which in this case, is the American movie goers.
Oldboy remake trailer:
The book, “The River of Lost Footsteps,” written by Thant Myint-U, details the history of Burma. Thant Thant covers the history from the beginnings of the empires that comprised ancient Burma, to modern day Burma and many of the conflicts in between. Thant provides an interesting perspective for this book, utilizing his grandfather and his experiences as a platform for the history of Burma and its development. His grandfather was the Secretary General for the United Nations during the 1960s, who was a first generation nationalist. Thant himself worked for United Nation peacekeeping operations in Cambodia and Bosnia. Not only this, but Thant became the head of the department of policy planning in the United Nations. The history provided starts with the overthrow of the last empire, which took place in 1885. This empire was overthrown by the British when the Burmese attempted to take Indian territories. Burma’s military was quite formidable in its early existence, conquering many territories in the 1500s. Some of the territories obtained are modern day Laos and Thailand. The overconfidence in their military led to the conflict with the British. During this conflict, Burma was considered to be a portion of India. Ultimately, after India gained their independence from the British, Burma acquired theirs. Even though Burma had achieved independence, they did not achieve peace. There was a civil war in Burma over the ruling power. This civil war resulted in the military takeover of the government. This brings Thant to the present day issues with Burma. The civil war that “ended” with military takeover never really ended, but continues today with conflicts between military power and those who call for democracy. Conflicts amongst the people persist within the massive amounts of different cultures existing within such a small country. Thant brings Burma through the elections that took place in 1990 I which the military lost miserably but still maintained control of the country. When in 2007 the army took action against its people, other countries were expedient in condemning their actions. Thant ultimately provides a few scenarios for what should be done with Burma now, leading to economic suffering first before anything gets better. This in particular has to do with the countries natural resources. While this downside exists, the people and the culture are thriving and the people are resilient, providing an optimistic future for Burma.
Bollywood is a term, incorrectly applied to all Indian films, for the movie production company located in Bombay, India. Bollywood rivals Hollywood, producing over 800 movies per year. This is almost twice the amount of movies produced in the United States. Bollywood has been producing movies specific to Indian culture since 1913, and really took off by 1930 with around 200 movies per year. The films they make cater to a broad audience as anything that targets a specific audience not only brings in less money, but is also not very well received. Interestingly, while may Bollywood films draw from traditional Indian topics, such as ancient texts or cultural subjects, in more recent years they have drawn upon Hollywood films such as musicals, which are quite popular in India. What is even more interesting is that Hollywood films have begun to be influenced by Bollywood films as well, such as musicals again. With the advent of modern internet and technological developments, these Bollywood films have been able to reach a much wider audience, across many countries, than before.
Ip man is the Chinese film centered around the character Yip Man, played by Donnie Yen, who was the first martial artist to teach the martial art known as Wing Chun, of which Yen is also a master. This real life individual not only is one of China’s most well known martial artists, but was also the man who trained Bruce Lee. In this film there is a heavy influence upon the importance of martial arts to the town of Foshan, a place where there are martial arts schools every where you turn. The film takes place in Japanese occupied portions of China during World War II, and provides an excellent view of the Chinese people holding onto their culture in the face of war through martial arts and the traditional agricultural living of many in that part of the country. The competitions between different schools of martial arts and the conflicts ensuing from the Japanese invasion comprise the majority of the film’s plot.
Chinese censorship is world renowned for its oppression of free thought and expression. In the previous post the censorship was addressed from the point of view from those who deal with the censorship, albeit begrudgingly, and modify their works as such. In this post, the view is changing to one of outright defiance. The world famous artist and film maker Ai Weiwei continues to create controversial and politically charged films and art in protest of the censorship continued by the Chinese government. He has taken to online blogs to do much of his controversial writings and posting of media. He has gone past protesting censorship and progressed to government protest, specifically about events such as the earthquake in Sichuan, where the deaths of countless people and children were covered up. The documentary about Ai Weiwei, entitled “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” details his efforts and run ins with the Chinese government officials.
It is no secret that China has always censored the creative works of its people that are meant for distribution. Until recent years though, with the advent of massive social media outlets, no film makers have really spoken out about the censorship and the issues posed to the film industry. Now, film makers are speaking out and letting the public know just how difficult it is. One of the many complaints is that censorship takes what are great films, and turns them into terrible films. According to an article from The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/oct/31/chinese-censors-ridiculous-feng-xiaogang), the requests from the office in charge of censorship are often “ridiculous.” China has recently opened up its censorship laws, not lifting them but merely relaxing them, but any film maker will tell you that any censorship is too much censorship.
The cinematic business in Myanmar has never actually been booming, but with Western films being more and more commonly shown in country, there is really no competition. The actors who play in these films, specifically the villains (according to http://www.ibtimes.com/myanmar-cinema-domestic-film-villains-no-longer-demand-more-western-films-are-shown-1454680), are losing work quickly. The lower budget production values of the Myanmar films simply cannot draw audiences as the Western films completely dominate. The privatization of the film industry in Myanmar was the catalyst of this downfall, opening the country up to Hollywood films, and thwarting the efforts of the local film makers.