Mariam Lam, Jasmine Nadua Trice, Gaik Cheng Khoo, and Philippa Lovatt in Hanoi, Vietnam. 

Between 2016 and 2018, Philippa Lovatt and Jasmine Nadua Trice led a project called the Southeast Asian Cinemas Research Network (SEACRN), which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. They were joined by network partners Gaik Cheng Khoo (University of Nottingham, Malaysia) and Nguyen Trinh Thi (Hanoi Doclab). 

Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas

The network emerged from the Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas (ASEAC). ASEAC began in 2004 in Singapore as a regional collective involving academics, filmmakers, critics, curators, archivists, and arts activists. It is a non-hierarchical initiative that anyone can join – and it meets every two years in a different part of Southeast Asia. 

One aim of ASEAC is to theorize a regional cinema through understanding and supporting:

We like to think of ASEAC as the “mothership," while SEACRN was kind of like a rowing boat that traveled around different places to continue the dialogue.  

Nguyen Trinh Thi, Jasmine Nadua Trice, and Gaik Cheng Khoo.
Thi and Gaik.
Sudarat Musikawong, Anocha Suwichakornpong, Philippa Lovatt, and Jasmine Nadua Trice. 

The SEACRN funding supported the 2016 ASEAC conference in Kuala Lumpur. Afterwards, we organised three symposia with the overarching theme of ‘Space, Time and the Visceral’. Each of these events was attached to an existing film festival. 

Filmmakers Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), Anocha Suwichakornpong (Thailand), Marie Jamora (Philippines/USA), Shireen Seno (Philippines), and Nia Dinata (Indonesia) in Los Angeles, discussing their short films. 

This was a research initiative that was very much about collaboration – and part of this was connected to its being a curatorial project. For example, in Glasgow we curated film strands within the festival, but we also invited other people to curate strands for us. We programmed an overnight screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s short films, a retrospective of Nguyen Trinh Thi’s work, and a new installation called Everyday’s the Seventies. Meanwhile, Shireen Seno and Merv Espina's curatorial archival initiative, the Kalampag Tracking Agency, screened one of their short film programmes; we also screened a short film collection titled Death and Killing in Southeast Asia, programmed by Tan Chui Mui of Next New Wave, director of the Malaysia-based SeaShorts Film Festival.

Under the overarching theme of ‘Space, Time, and the Visceral’, we invited filmmakers, producers, archivists, curators, critics, academics, and media activists to explore how local understandings of spatiality and temporality, as well as ways of representing or manipulating space and time have influenced and shaped the texture, formal qualities, or narrative styles of Southeast Asian film. We also asked participants to reflect on how different strategies and practices of production, exhibition, and distribution have been able flourish despite (and perhaps even because of) restrictive conditions.

Filmmakers Kavich Neang (Cambodia), Hafiz Rancajale (Indonesia), and Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), with Professor and Associate Vice Chancellor Mariam Lam of the University of California Riverside, in Glasgow. [source]

You can read about related events and publications at the links below: 

ASEAC Interviews

We hope to continue these conversations within this collaborative, online space. We welcome participation from anyone interested in exploring the rich range of film and media practices taking shape in Southeast Asia. To find out more about contributing, please contact Jasmine Nadua Trice at jnt@ucla.edu. 

We are grateful for the contributions of our Research Assistants, Valencia Winata, Yunyi Li, Matthew Gray, Julie Jaresova, Zizi Li, and Jin Hao Li.