Posted on: 16th February 2023
Artist Moving Images from South East Asia

Blickle Kino, Sunday, 26th February 2023, 11:30 + 15:30
Speculative Documents explores the fractured relations between humans and the natural environment and how cinema engages with a despoiled world.

Curated by Ella Raidel / NTU Singapore in cooperation with Marlene Rutzendorfer / wonderland, and Claudia Slanar / Belvedere21
Speculative Documents

The films in this program draw on the leitmotif of speculative documents, factual objects tempered with fantasy, fabulation, and conjecture, on artists moving images from Southeast Asia. Departing from the human-centered experience, these films focus on the world of objects and things, a realism that materials have become vital, autonomous, and life of their own.  The burgeoning current of the non-fiction cinema in Southeast Asia lays bare the performativity of documents— flowers, viruses, tigers, wounds, etc.—by exploring the fractured boundary between fact and fiction, which often are the materials of films themselves. Altogether, the selected films intervene in established histories of colonial and capitalist exploitation by re-imagining the past and positing alternative futures.

PROGRAMME ONE – 66’ – 11:30

Birds, trees, flowers, and tigers

Experimental essay films that challenge the capture of natural and human history through image technologies and propose new readings of territory and plants.

Trees wearing our clothes when we’re not looking
John Torres
1:29 min, 2017

Film still from “Trees wearing our clothes when we’re not looking,” John Torres

Tu Harimau
Katharina Copony, Austria, in collaboration with Shooshie Sulaiman & MAIX, Malaysia
10:25 min, 2021

Film still from “Tu Harimau”
Katharina Copony, Shooshie Sulaiman & MAIX

To Pick a Flower
Shireen Seno, Philippines
17min., 2021


After Nonoy Estarte
John Torres, Philippines
10 min., 2017

Film Still from “After Nonoy Estarte,”
John Torres

{if your bait can sing the wild one will come} Like Shadows Through Leaves
Lucy Davis and The Migrant Ecologies Project, Singapore
28 min, 2021


PROGRAMME TWO – 83’ – 15:30

Frogs, whales, eggs, and wounds

Through fictive re-enactments that resurrect neglected traditions and welcome new visitations, these films raise spectres that haunt the land as both disturbances and consolations.

It’s raining frogs outside
Maria Estela Paiso, Philippines
14 min., 2021

Letters from Panduranga
Nguyen Trinh Thi, Vietnam
35 min., 2015

How Green was the Calabash Garden
Truong Minh Quy, Vietnam
15 min., 2016

Into The Violet Belly
Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, Thyen Hoa
Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Malta, Denmark
19 min., 2022

Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, Into The Violet Belly, 2022, film still. Courtesy: the artist


Shireen Seno is a Philippine-based award-winning artist and filmmaker whose work addresses memory, history, and image-making, often in relation to the idea of home. Her fiction film Nervous Translation received the NETPAC Award, Tiger Competition, and International Film festival Rotterdam 2018. Seno is currently a 2022 Film Fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin program.

John Torres is an independent filmmaker, musician, and writer. He co-runs Los Otros, a Manila-based space, film lab, and platform committed to the intersections of film and art, with a focus on process over product. His work fictionalises and reworks personal and found documentations of love, family relations, and memory in relation to current events, hearsays, myth and folklore.

Katharina Copony is an independent filmmaker living in Berlin and Vienna. Her films are presented internationally at festivals and in exhibition contexts, e.g. at Arsenal – Institute for Film and Media Art Berlin or Anthology Film Archives New York, as well as broadcast on television. She has received prestigious awards, including from the Vienna International Film Festival, the ARTE Documentary Award, and the Best Film Award at Jeonju IIFF, Korea.

Shooshie Sulaiman, is a Malaysian artist who lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Hiroshima, Japan Shooshie Sulaiman and Katharina Copony met in 1998 during the Arcus Artist in Residence program in Japan. Since then, they have remained in continuous exchange.

Lucy Davis is a visual artist, art writer, and founder of The Migrant Ecologies Project. Her transdisciplinary practice encircles plant genetics, tree lore and bird song as well as art/science, naturecultures, memory, materiality, narrative environments, and most recently, psycho-ecologies of resilience. She is currently a Professor of Artistic Practices in Visual Cultures, Curating, and Contemporary Art at Aalto University, Finland, where she serves as Deputy Head of the programme.

Maria Estela Paiso born in Quezon City, the Philippines in 1997. After several music videos and visual experiments, she made Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol, her debut film as a director, which premiered at Berlinale Shorts 2022.

Nguyen Trinh Thi is a Hanoi-based independent filmmaker and video/media artist. Her diverse practice has consistently investigated the role of memory in the necessary unveiling of hidden, displaced or misinterpreted histories; and examined the position of artists in Vietnamese society.

Trương Minh Quý attended a directing course at Hồ Chí Minh City University of Cinema and Theatre in 2008; but halted his studies a year later to pursue independent filmmaking. Minh Quý explores his ideas primarily through video and experimental filmmaking. The images and narratives in his works often stand on the border between the real and the surreal, the personal and the non-personal and address his concern with human existence in the contexts of urban and non-urban, civilization and primitivism.

Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi is a Milky Way-based artist whose practice mutates in and out of sculpture, installation, performance, moving image, and interdisciplinary research. Her work explores imaginaries of freedom at the intersection of film-making and film theory, documentary and fiction, personal/prosthetic memory and individual/collective histories. Interweaving family lore, mythology, science fiction, and digital abstraction, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi’s film follows the collaboration between the artist and her mother, Thuyen Hoa, who fled Vietnam after the end of the American War via a near-calamitous sea journey. Into The Violet Belly offers up an image of its multiplicitous structure: a massive digital swarm, tiny avatars of migrating bodies, swimming in an infinite blue.

Ella Raidel, Ph.D., is a filmmaker, artist, and Assistant Professor at NTU Singapore at ADM School of Art, Design and Media and WKWSCI Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. In her interdisciplinary works, she focuses on the sociocultural aspects of globalization, urbanization, and the representation of images. Her filmmaking corresponds with her writings on cinema to investigate the poetics in image-making. She is preparing a publication on the speculative documents in East and Southeast Asian Nonfiction Films under the title Play Life: The Poetics of the Performative Documentary, forthcoming at Amsterdam University Press in the Critical Asian Cinemas Series.