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Asian Avant-Garde Film Festival

30 May - 2 June

M+

EVENT DESCRIPTION

M+, Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, is pleased to announce its inaugural Asian Avant-Garde Film Festival supported by CHANEL. This four-day programme showcases independent art and filmmaking in Asia, celebrating these robust communities, original visual languages, and cross-cultural dialogues. Held between 30 May to 2 June 2024, the festival will host screenings, exhibitions, performances, talks, and workshops with artists and filmmakers from across Asia and key works from the M+ Collections.

The Asian Avant-Garde Film Festival foregrounds independent art and filmmaking that challenge dominant historical narratives and expand the possibilities of visual expression. By presenting an array of moving image practices and key works from the M+ Collections, the festival will activate the museum in new ways to offer different aesthetic and spatial experiences for audiences.

In this first edition, the festival will look at the history of Asian avant-garde filmmaking through M+’s unique lens of visual culture to consider interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and intergenerational lineages. It will highlight the crucial role that artists play in re-examining the past and forging new historical narratives. Artists and filmmakers from across Asia, including Nick Deocampo, Lei Lei, Simon Liu, Lu Yang, Ellen Pau, Wing Shya, Su Hui-Yu, Wong Ping, Ruby Yang, and Zhang Peili, will participate in post-screening talks, workshops, lounge chats, and performances.

M+ has invited Wing Shya, a renowned Hong Kong photographer, designer, and filmmaker, to be the festival Art Director. Shya has led the festival’s visual identity and provided never-before-seen photography works for the key art and trailer.

Grand Stair

Experience a newly commissioned live cinema event that showcases a multisensory convergence of music, film, and technology, featuring Wing Shya’s unseen 35mm film images in collaboration with nnscya’s experimental soundscape. Artist Samson Sing Wun Wong’s audio-reactive design technology transforms Wing’s visuals in real time, responding to the musician’s touch.

This performance incorporates various avatars and protagonists from Lu Yang’s troves and past works, including the renowned ‘DOKU’. The digital characters are inspired by religious philosophy, video games, and anime. The work features a dancer wearing motion capture technology to embody the often-genderless avatars as digital reincarnations. In an intense audio-visual experience, the performance prompts contemplation of the human condition today—the inhibition at the intersection of the bodily, spiritual, and digital realms. The performance also incorporates live music by Li Xin and virtual visual effects manipulated in real time by a game controller.   

This programme focuses on the body as a site of desire, violence, and emancipation. It renders the body’s palpable physicality on the screen, probing ideas such as self-representation, memory, displacement, and fragility. The films include Glove (The Pleasure of the Glove) (1985) and Blue (1989) by Ellen Pau, Fly, Fly (1997) by Jiang Zhi, Measures of Distance (1985) by Mona Hatoum, Cut Piece(1964) by Yoko Ono, Exergie – Butter Dance (2000) by Melati Suryodarmo, Rainbow (1998) by Xu Zhen, Penelope (2012) by Nalini Malani, and Fountain (1998) by Patty Chang. 

From the 1970s to the present day, artists and filmmakers have addressed the dilemmas, struggles, and ever-changing conditions of women in Asia. This programme features Geu Nu Gei (1997) by Fion Ng, I Have (2017) by Cao Yu, Eleven Men (2016) by Nguyen Trinh Thi, Mother (2009) by Tracey Moffatt, Kiyoko’s Situation (1989) by Mako Idemitsu, Labour of Love — The Housewife (1978) by Rajendra Gour,  A Very Easy Death (1975) by Mary Stephen, Mirror Points (1982) by Ruby Yang and Untitled A77(1977) by Han Ok-hee.  

This programme celebrates the transformative power of friendship and collaboration in art and filmmaking communities that transcends art forms and geographies. It features four short films: Merce by Merce by Paik Part One: Blue Studio: Five Segments (1975–1976) by Charles Atlas, Merce Cunningham, Shigeko Kubota, and Nam June Paik; Modern Poetry Exhibition (1966) by Chang Chao-Tang; Private Antonio (1986/2019) by Neco Lo Che Ying; and What Makes a Home? (2022) by the collective Xiē. The films explore the interdisciplinary connections, intimate bonds, and intense creativity that arise from trust and companionship. A talk between Hong Kong animator Neco Lo Che Ying and Li Cheuk To, Curator-at-large of Hong Kong Film and Media, M+, will also be held at the Festival Lounge, exploring Lo’s friendship and collaboration with the late sculptor Antonio Mak.

M+ Cinema House 1 

Self × Society focuses on the relationship between individuals and society, explored through experimental and performance films from the 1960s to the present. The works include City Dog (1992) by Koson Trongtosak, Sathien Preedasa, Amnuay Mangmeesri, and Chavalit Potisri; The Hole (1974) by Han Ok-hee; Wong Ping’s Fables 1 (2018) by Wong Ping; Dysfunction No. 3 (1983) by Chen Chieh-Jen; Eyes (1968) by Rajendra Gour; Here’s Looking At You, Kid! (1990) by Yau Ching, Ellen Pau, and Wong Chi-fai; and The Shortcut to the Systematic Life: City Spirits (2005) by Tsui Kuang-Yu. 

How do we scrutinise what we learn as consumers of media and products of education systems? Wong Chi-fai’s Educational TV (1987), Ho Rui An’s Student Bodies (2019), and Bong Joon-ho’s Incoherence(1994) reflect on the power of education and media culture, tracing the impact of these institutions on post-war Asia.

As a video art pioneer and founding member of the Pond Society, Zhang Peili was a prominent figure in the avant-garde art movement in China in the 1980s and 1990s. His video art installation Broadcast at the Same Time (1999.12.31 night) (2000) will be on display in the Main Hall Gallery of M+. Zhang will also curate a screening programme of works by artists he has taught over the years, including Li Ming, Lu Yang, Peng Yun, Wu Junyong, and Yi Lian. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Zhang and Lu Yang, exploring the connections between artistic practices across generations.

A film programme and lecture by Nick Deocampo, Slivers of Desire with Nick Deocampo explores what the body can stand for, looking to Roxlee’s Juan Gapang (Johnny Crawl) (1987), Victoria Donato’s Hubog (1989), and Deocampo’s Oliver (1983). It considers the body as an emanation of anatomical, personal, political, economic, and gendered elements. By focusing on corporeality and its articulation in public, the programme fleshes out discourses surrounding the body.  

Ruby Yang and Lambert Yam, a married couple and titans in the world of film, will attend the post-screening talk to share about their early experimentation with analogue films. I Am the Master of My Boat (1976) and On the Track (1979) by Yam will be played on a 16mm projector alongside Yang’s Nowhere (1979), Mirror Points (1982), and White Passage (1986).

This programme revisits the 1985 homoerotic fantasy and cult classic The Glamorous Boys of Tang,directed by Chiu Kang-Chien, and the 2018 re-creation by contemporary Taiwanese video artist Su Hui-Yu. The 1985 film pushed the boundaries of cinematic decorum with scenes of violent, orgiastic sex in wildly anachronistic costumes and sets.

Animation is labour-intensive, yet this aspect is rarely discussed. This programme celebrates the unyielding dedication of animators by featuring seven works. They range from early, pioneering films like Roxlee’s ABCD (1985), Gotot Prakosa’s Genesis Genesis (1981), Chen Kunyi’s SUBIDA (2000), and Hung Keung’s Love (1997) to works by newer generations including Lei Lei and Thomas Sauvin’s Hand Colored No.2 (2015), Zhang Xu Zhan’s Hsin Hsin Joss Paper Store Series—Room 004, Si So Mi(2017–2018), and Cai Caibei’s Sliver Cave (2022).

Anchored by extensive research into Asia’s unresolved Cold War histories, the three films in this series use found footage to navigate the slippery relationship between Hong Kong and its neighbouring regions in the mid-twentieth century. These speculative essay-films, including Bo Wang’s An Asian Ghost Story (2023), Ho Tzu Nyen’s The Nameless (2015), and Lee Kai Chung’s Tree of Malevolence(2024), are haunted by the ghosts of the past, blurring fact and fiction to unveil the complexities of Hong Kong’s cultural identity, its role as a cultural and economic mediator, and its inextricable connection with wider Asia.​

Foregrounding intimate first-person narratives, this series of diary films offers a glimpse into the intricacies of family relationships, intergenerational trauma, and personal conflicts. Koguchi Utako’s The Sleeping Flower (1991), Chan Hau Chun’s 32+4 (2015), and Naomi Kawase’s Embracing (1992) exemplify how diary films present alternative modes of storytelling for memories and lived experiences.​

Horizon Terrace

The Asian Avant-Garde Film Festival will present Amorphous Bodies: A Happening, a party and immersive art experience, on the evening of 31 May 2024. Möth Agency, a diverse group of DJs from Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, will offer a mix of deconstructed club, techno, Latin club, and more. Audiences can also see Overlappers, an unconventional performance by artist-filmmakers Jennie MaryTai Liu and Simon Liu, accompanied by musician Andrew Gilbert. Drawing inspiration from the festival itself, Overlappers is an ode to the random, the improvised, and the unplanned.

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