Voices of Asia: Asia Society Summer Film Series 2009

Still from The Shaft (dir. Zhang Chi, China, 2008).

June 18 – July 5, 2009

Asia's quest for modernity has left many excluded from the affluence unfettered development has brought. People from Kazakhstan to the Philippines continue to struggle with daily existence, yet remain stoic in their capacity to rise above misfortune. In its seventh year, the Asia Society Summer Film Series documents the region’s people and their spirit in the face of adversity.

Escape with us in this celebration of ordinary life through the eyes and lenses of filmmakers from across the world. Join us as we follow an Indian chef’s adventures in the Swiss highlands; a mute boy from the slums of the Philippines as he discovers a love for music; a single father struggling to survive in the dangerous Chinese mines; a Jordanian airport janitor who inspires kids to dream big and fly high; and a troubled urban teenager who spends an idyllic summer in rural Japan with her English grandmother.

Voices of Asia offers a universal message of hope, aspiration, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Screening Venue
Agnès b. CINEMA!, Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai

General: HK$55
Asia Society members, Students, Seniors: $HK45

Tickets available through URBTIX outlets
Telephone Reservation:
(852) 2734-9009
Credit Card Hotline:
(852) 2111-5999

The Shaft
Zhang Chi
2008 | China | 102 mins
In Putonghua with English subtitles
Thursday, June 18, 7:30 pm | Friday, June 26, 7:30 pm

In a small Chinese mining town, a single father devotes his life to his two children who are burdened by the family’s hazardous occupation. Filial and paternal aspirations are explored in the three-part story that documents the angst that each faces. Daughter Jingshui dreams of life elsewhere and marries a much older man in Beijing to leave the mining town. Son Jingsheng is a high school dropout who wants to become a pop star. He gets jailed for being an accomplice with a friend in a crime that he is clueless of, and ends up down a mine in a job he vowed never to do. Their father, meantime, retires and leaves his town for the first time to search for the wife who walked out on him 20 years ago. This is a modern tale about ordinary Chinese lives fueled by yearning and contentment in the simple things life has to offer.


Captain Abu Raed
Amin Matalga
2007 | Jordan | 102 mins
In Arabic with English subtitles
Friday, June 19, 7:30pm | Saturday, June 27, 7:30pm

Airport janitor Abu Raed is mistaken for a pilot and idolized by a group of children after he wears a discarded captain’s hat. Through reading and frequent encounters with travelers at Amman Airport, he tells the children vivid stories and takes them to colorful corners of the world, inspiring them to believe in their dreams. Meanwhile, Abu Raed’s friendship with Nour, a female pilot, grows as she deals with pressures of being a successful woman in modern-day Jordan. Rebellious teenager Murad, though, is on a quest to prove Abu Raed a liar. Yet Abu Raed make sacrifices to save his family and helps Murad discover new possibilities in life.


Tandoori Love
Oliver Paulus
2008 | Switzerland | 100 mins
In German and Hindi with English subtitles
Saturday, June 20, 7:30 pm | Sunday, June 28, 7:30 pm

Sonja, a young waitress at the Hirschen Guesthouse in the Swiss highlands, is happily engaged to her boss Markus. Quietly awaiting her happily-ever-after fairytale to come true, Sonja has never questioned her love for her fiancé until Rajah, a masterful Indian chef enters her life. Rajah cooks for Priya the Bollywood diva who is filming in the Alps. When he sees Sonja in the supermarket, it is love at first sight. He quits his job on the filmset to cook at Hirschen, fascinating young Sonja with his culinary magic and Eastern charm. Chaos erupts before long as Sonja is trapped between the security and status that Markus offer,s and the unlimited possibilities that the irresistible Rajah presents.


The Witch of the West is Dead
Shunichi Nagasaki
2008 | Japan | 115 mins
In Japanese with English subtitles
Sunday, June 21, 7:30 pm | Saturday, July 4, 7:30 pm

Urbanite teenager Mai is having problems coping with school and peers. She quits school to stay in the Japanese countryside with her English grandmother who calls herself the "Witch of the West." She sets about teaching her confused granddaughter gardening, jam-making and dealing with eccentric neighbors. As the idyllic summer comes to an end, Mai rediscovers her strength, gentleness and hope, but at the same time, falls outwith her grandmother. Mai returns to the city and goes back to school. Two years on, she receives news that grandma has passed away. The Witch of the West is Dead is a luminous tale of a girl’s rite of passage based on the award-winning novel by Nashiki Kaho.
Buy tickets


Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil
2008 | Philippines | 98 mins
In Tagalog with English subtitles
Thursday, June 25, 7:30 pm | Sunday, July 5, 7:30 pm

Young Onyok is left mute after suffering traumatizing physical abuse at the hands of his father in the slums of the Philippines. He is sent to a shelter where he meets friends and bullies who share his fate. Living next to the abused children is musician Ariel, who is still grieving the recent death of his girlfriend. Stemming from their love of music, Ariel discovers Onyok's immense musical talent hidden behind a veneer of silence. Ariel gives Onyok violin lessons, and in the process discovers his strength and humanity as his wounds begin to heal. Meanwhile, the silent Onyok overcomes a desensitized existence to find his voice through music.
Buy tickets

*English subtitles are only available when the spoken language is not English

Program Enquiries
Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Tel: (852) 2103 9508/ (852) 2103 9504
Email: hk@asiasoc.org

Made possible by a grant from: