How can a new kind of cinema be collectively created within a transnational society? SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA, the cinema-experiment by bi’bak, explores cinema as a space of social discourse, exchange, and solidarity. The curated film series brings together diverse social communities and connects places both near and geographically distant; it links pasts, presents and futures and moves away from a eurocentric gaze towards transnational, (post-)migrant and postcolonial perspectives. SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is a different kind of cinema, one simultaneously committed to local and international communities, that understands cinema as an important public sphere of sociality; it considers film history as crucial to the work of cultural memory and is committed to a diversity of film culture and film art. In Haus der Statistik at Berlin-Alexanderplatz, SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA builds a bridge between urban practice and film to create a space that opens access, stimulates discussion, educates, moves, provokes and encourages.
SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is funded by Haupstadtkulturfonds, Conrad Stiftung and the Programm NEUSTART KULTUR
Past event series can be found in the archive.
Social inequality, environmentally destructive extractivism and the violent reverberations of colonial nation-building are the constituent ingredients of dictatorial power regimes. They manifest from national boundaries established during the colonial era – an externally imposed structure that traumatized land, body, mind and spirit in numerous places. The selected films, lifted from both archives and contemporary sources, focus on Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia against the backdrop of the Cold War and its aftermath. In a reparative gesture, the film selection of Common Cold – un.thai.tled Film Festival 2021 is not organized along such violent and confining categories, but follows traces and entanglements that transcend national and geographic boundaries to raise questions regarding the bearing of responsibility for colonial damage in the relationship between Europe and Southeast Asia. As such, not only films from the region will be shown but ones produced in Europe which offer diverse, diasporic perspectives.
un.thai.tled brings together artists and creatives from Thailand and those with a Thai diasporic background. The collective curates cinema and cultural events in which stereotypes concerning Thailand and Southeast Asia are broken. un.thai.tled stands for resistance against invisibility but also against labels and external classifications.
Funded by Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Stiftung Nord-Süd Brücken and Goethe Institut Thailand
Rosalia Namsai Engchuan (โรสาลียา น้ำใส เอ่งฉ้วน) is a social anthropologist and artist living between Berlin and Southeast Asia. She is currently working with artists and cultural actors in Southeast Asia on artistic-theoretical interventions in problem clusters of modernity that go beyond climate change and the environmental crisis. Rosalia is a 2021 Goethe-Institut Fellow at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwartskunst Berlin and one of the founders of with the rubbles, a space for collective research in Berlin.
Sarnt Utamachote (ษาณฑ์ อุตมโชติ) is a nonbinary filmmaker and curator. They are a co-founder of un.thai.tled, an artist collective from the German-Thai diaspora, with whom they curated the un.thai.tled Film Festival Berlin and Beyond the kitchen: Stories from the Thai Park. Their video installation I Am Not Your Mother (2020) was exhibited at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and their short film Soy Sauce (2020) was screened at OutFest Fusion LA, Xposed Berlin, and Queer East London 2021, among others.
ปฐมพล เทศประทีป Pathompon Mont Tesprateep, Thailand 2019, 8 min.
ยุทธนา มุกดาสนิท Euthana Mukdasanit / สุรชัย จันทิมาธร Surachai Jantimatorn / ไพจง ไหลสกุล Paijong Laisakul / รัศมี เผ่าเหลืองทอง Rassamee Paoluengthong, Thailand 1977, 63 min.
Thong Pan is an activist-produced film from the times of the student uprisings and massacres in the early 70s – a time in Thai history that still lingers as a trauma that finds no resolution. As much as it is a chronicle of the student movement, the film is also an important archival source of local reactions to terraforming mega-dam projects that violently scarred local ecosystems, especially in the Northeastern region. Thong Pan will be introduced by the cinematic experience that is Lullaby: A meditation on oral folk songs, traditionally inspired storytelling poetry on colonial borders, the Cold War, and national accountability for regional bloodshed. Both films were inspired by Third Cinema, or (socialist) cinema of the people, a driving cultural force in the 1970s.
Kong Rithdee (ก้อง ฤทธิ์ดี) is a screenwriter, columnist and Thailand’s leading film critic. He is currently the deputy director of the Thai Film Archive, which was established in 1984 as a national body. It became a public organization in 2009, working to create knowledge on film conservation, and to support film related research.
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Followed by a discussion with all filmmakers: Onur Agbaba, Najwa Ahmed, Fernanda Carrasco, Luan Caja, Raras Umaratih, Estelle Pandao Lassus, Jade Singkhorn Krüger, Thao Ho, Nguyen Phuong Thuy, Nguyen Phuong Thanh, Vo Trang
This evening is dedicated to the films produced at the filmmaking workshop which took place at Sinema Transtopia under the mentorship of Pimpaka Towira during un.thai.tled Film Festival 2020. There will be a conversation with the filmmakers on the works as well as a reflection on the filmmaking process. The topics range from diverse reflections on the experience of existing in Berlin and/or Germany as a member of a particular diasporic community, to the funding system for Southeast Asian cinema.
สุสานใต้ดิน Underground Cemetery
วิศรุต ศรีพุธสมบูรณ์ Wisarut Sriputbomboon, Thailand 2020, 30 min.
ก่อนกาล The Reminiscence of Forsaken Place
อภิวันทน์ จรินยากุลวัฒน์ Apiwan Charinyakulwat, Thailand 2019, 16 min.
The In/Extinguishable Fire
Thùy-Hân Nguyễn-Chí, Vietnam/Germany 2019, 28 min.
Một khu đất tốt Blessed Land
Phạm Ngọc Lân, Vietnam 2019, 19 min.
The films curated under this section are an invitation to think about landscape as a constitutive actor in the unleashing of individual and communal life stories, rather than just a passive backdrop to the main scene. Underground Cemetery opens the program with a reflection on the entanglements of Thai homes, spirits and political memory-landscapes relating to the countryside. The Reminiscence of Forsaken Place is a love letter to Bangkok and a middle finger to late capitalism as it morphs into an unbearable dystopian landscape. TheIn/Extinguishable Fire interweaves histories between the GDR and Vietnam through intergenerational tales about aircrafts and revolutionaries. Those topics enter into a dialogue with Blessed Land, a deeply nuanced film that brings questions of landscape use across different classes in contemporary Vietnam to the surface.
Phạm Ngọc Lân studied urban planning at Hanoi Architectural University. His work focuses on the influence of cityscapes on human relationships. His short films have been screened at numerous film festivals and art museums, including Visions du Réel, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and Berlinale Shorts. He is currently developing his feature film debut.
Thùy-Hân Nguyễn-Chí is a Berlin- and London-based artist working with sculpture, installation, moving image and interdisciplinary research. She studied Fine Arts at Städelschule, Film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently pursuing a PhD in Film at CREAM, the University of Westminster. Her work explores the intersection of filmmaking and film theory, critical refugee studies and postcolonial studies.
Followed by a talk with Wattanapume Laisuwanchai (วรรจธนภูมิ ลายสุวรรณชัย) and the protagonists of the film (with Thai-English translation)
แร็ปทะลุฝ้า ราชาไม่หยุดฝัน School Town King
วรรจธนภูมิ ลายสุวรรณชัย Wattanapume Laisuwanchai, Thailand 2020, 120 min.
School Town King tells the story of two boys from the Klong Toey slums in Bangkok who share their experiences through rap. At a time when the COVID pandemic accelerates and intensifies extreme social inequality – something that has been and still is the backbone of Thai society – this film arrives at a key moment. Rather than falling into the obvious but ultimately degrading victimhood narrative, one that disregards the structural shaping of individual lives and which leaves no space for individual agency, this layered documentary takes another route. It is an attempt at a curious, intimate and empathetic way of storytelling that is reminiscent of a rap video.
Wattanapume Laisuwanchai (วรรจธนภูมิ ลายสุวรรณชัย) is one of the two co-founders of Eyedropper Fill, an experience-based design company, and a filmmaker based in Bangkok. His short films such as Passing Through the Night (2011) and feature films such as Phantom of Illumination (2017) have been screened at Venice, Clermont-Ferrand, Singapore (SGIFF) and Busan International Film Festival.
แมวสามสี The Story
นฆ ปักษานาวิน Nil Paksnavin, Thailand 2011, 5 min.
พิมานอากาศ Celestial Space
อุกฤษณ์ สงวนให้ Ukrit Sa-nguanhai, Thailand 2012, 30 min.
ประพัทธ์ จิวะรังสรรค์ Prapat Jiwarangsan, Thailand/Singapore 2020, 50 min.
The Story depicts a close-up of a face voicing questions on sexual illiberalism and Buddhist-Muslim coexistence in the south of Thailand. Celestial Body is a beautifully raw and intimate portrait of a relationship that unfolds in consecutive conversations occurring between a young couple as they lie on a makeshift bed under a pink mosquito net. Ploy is an ambitious archive-based speculative documentary that chronicles migration from Thailand to Singapore and encounters with a justice system designed to dehumanize bodies who don’t fit the moral template of a modern nation state, targeting sex workers in particular. These three works remind us how capitalist understandings of laboring bodies undermine all manner of human nuances.
Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn is a Bangkok-based film scholar, film curator, and producer, who holds a PhD in Film Studies from Queen Mary, University of London. His interests lie in the cinematic possibility of decentering human-centric perspectives. He has produced many of Prapat Jiwarangsan’s short films with a focus on migrant and political exilant perspectives.
คนหมายเลขศูนย์ Mr. Zero
นัชชา ตันติวิทยาพิทักษ์ Nutcha Tantivitayapitak / ชวัลรัตน์ รุ้งแสงเจริญทิพย์ Chawanrat Rungsangcharoenthip, Thailand 2016, 40 min.
อนินทรีย์แดง Red Aninsri; Or, Tiptoeing on the Still Trembling Berlin Wall
รัชฏ์ภูมิ บุญบัญชาโชค Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, Thailand 2020, 30 min.
Mr. Zero follows Pundit Anemia, one of the many stories in which an extremely fragile state accuses its critics of insanity in order to get rid of them. Red Aninsri; Or Tiptoeing on the Still Trembling Berlin Wall is a campy comment on the structural impossibility of critique: What remains when the state co-opts the demands of the movement, usurping the demands of liberation, only to expand its control? Both films are an argument on the difficulties to escape from the tight grip of the Thai state and article 112, which prohibits insulting the monarchy under the threat of up to 15 years of imprisonment. This legal statute is currently being challenged in unprecedented ways by a new generation of student movements.
Sisu Satrawaha (ศิศุ สาตราวาหะ) is a filmmaker currently studying in the MFA program Public Art and New Artistic Strategies at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. She uses her research-based multi-disciplinary artistic practice as a tool for learning more about society, especially in anthropology, intercultural relations, and contemporary culture.
ບໍ່ມີວັນຈາກ The Long Walk
Mattie Do, Laos 2019, 116 min.
Trigger Warning: family abuse, corpses and gore
Set in rural Laos, the sci-fi thriller The Long Walk is a powerful critique of the violence enacted by so-called progress narratives and the sharp boundaries that exist between modern technology and traditional shamanic beliefs. The intertwined story – about a time-travelling killer, an innocent boy, and the company of ghosts – gives us a lesson on how generational trauma is cyclical.
Mattie Do was born to Laotian refugees and raised in Los Angeles. She returned to Laos to help the government create the infrastructure necessary to bring foreign co-productions to Laos. Her debut film Chanthaly (2012) was the first Laotian film to screen outside of Southeast Asia. Her second film Dearest Sister (2016) was Laos’ first submission for Best International Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
Le sommeil d'or Golden Slumbers
ដេវី ជូ Davy Chou, Cambodia/France 2011, 96 min.
Davy Chou’s Golden Slumbers is one for cinema lovers. It is a film which shows how deeply political conditions shape the ups and downs of the movie industry in Cambodia, but also sheds light on the possibility of survival through the lens of the Khmer diaspora. Through conversations with its surviving actors, the film is a nostalgic longing for a time when the Cambodian film industry was flourishing.
Sopheap Chea (សុភាព ជា) was born in 1984 in Cambodia and grew up with a family who went through the Khmer Rouge regime. He works as Executive Director at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center. The Center was founded by internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker Rithy Panh and Ieu Pannakar, former Senator and Minister of the Royal Palace. It aims to preserve the visual memory of Cambodia’s past, providing young Cambodians (from Khmer and ethnic minorities) with vocational training and cinematographic skills. The Center has launched a series of documentary projects focusing on the Cambodian indigenous women, and Khmer Rouge survivors.
Nhà Cây The Tree House
Truong Minh Quý, Vietnam/Singapore 2019, 84 min.
This sci-fi documentary, set on Mars in the year 2045, is a window into the lives of the Ruc, Kor and Hmong ethnic minorities. The filmmaker interweaves personal memories and longings with historical footage filmed by American soldiers during the American War in Vietnam. Amidst the visual layers the question about the violence of representation of the other emerges. In the end, The Tree House becomes a meditation on the possibility of re-constructing a collective home.
Truong Minh Quý was born in Buon Ma Thuot, a small city in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. His short and feature films have been selected for international film festivals and exhibitions such as the Locarno Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, IFFR, and Busan Film Festival. He won the main Art Prize at the 20th VideoBrasil in 2017.