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.
Fatal & Fallen considers the trope of the deadly, fallen, and delinquent woman as pictured in East Asian exploitation films. Spanning the 1970s to late-1980s, the programme examines Japan’s sexploitation films, Taiwan’s Black Movies, Hong Kong’s Girls with Guns and South-Korea’s thriller films. These often marginalized genres feature underworlds such as prisons, brothels, and even homes as sites of crime, sexual desire, and revenge. Fatal & Fallenindexes the region’s socio-political context, when years of post-war depression, struggling authoritarian regimes, foreign military rule, Cold War and rapid industrialisation found an outlet in extreme – often patriarchal and misogynistic – cinematic imagery. Whilst acknowledging the inscription of such problematic representations, Fatal & Fallen attempts to locate the socio-political knowledge arising from social negativity in film. Against this backdrop, Fatal & Fallen uncovers the dynamics of power and desire through the bleak yet charged territories of exploitation films.
Fatal & Fallen was first presented at Singapore’s Asian Film Archive in the context of their Re:frame series from September – October 2021.
Funded by Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa and das Programm NEUSTART des Bundesverband Soziokultur im Programmteil kulturelle und soziokulturelle Programmarbeit
XING is a research and curatorial platform championing visual art practices from East Asia, Southeast Asia and its diaspora. It was founded by Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee and now co-run with Jade Barget.
Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee is an interdisciplinary practitioner who works between visual art, cultural and artistic research, and education. Her practice concerns iterations of slow violence and the unearthing of micro and muted narratives.
Jade Barget is a curator based in Paris and Berlin with an interest in screen and moving image cultures. Her research centers on the relations between media and memory. She has curated various programmes and assists in the programming of transmediale.
Set in a psychedelic 1970s Japan, Ako, a rebel biker girl played by pop singer Akiko Wada, befriends the local all-girl gang boss, Mei (Meiko Kaji). When a war between local gangs erupts, Ako partners with Mei’s gang, the Stray Cats, to form a killer clique that combats rival gangs on the streets, in the boxing ring, and in clubs, where real life rock bands such as The Mops and The Ox perform live. With its girl-gang related street fights and motorcycle chases Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss depicts pink film’s sukeban (delinquent girl) trope. 70s youth acid culture oozes through the screen with kaleidoscopic cinematography, fashion and music. The choice of actors reflects Japan’s twentieth century waves of immigration: the boxer Kelly is played by the African-American-Japanese actor Ken Sanders, andAko by Akiko Wada, a descendant of Korean immigrants living in Japan.
Followed by a talk on Zoom
When a gang of assassins murders their parents, two sisters inherit the family business – a state-of-the-art computer surveillance system. Armed with new skills, the sisters become the most accomplished assassins in Hong Kong. But after killing a wealthy magnate, an undercover detective is suddenly hot on their tail. Loyalties are tested, alliances are questioned and survival becomes the most extreme sport of all. As part of the second wave of the Girls with Guns subgenre, So Close is an updated version of the 1980s films that were built on strong, female leads portrayed with ostensible power. However, the film masquerades female empowerment under the guise of a highly sexualising male gaze. Expressed in definitive Y2K stylisation and featuring quintessential early-2000 gadgets, fashion, and special effects, So Close captures the new millennium’s techno-optimism.
Mie Hiramoto is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at National University of Singapore. Her research area focuses on gender, language and female appropriation of Asian masculinity in martial arts films. She serves as co-editor-in-chief for Gender and Language and associate editor for Journal of Language and Sexuality among other journal-related services. She also serves as Deputy Principal Investigator of the FASS Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster in NUS.
Followed by a talk on Zoom
On a chicken farm, a love triangle is drawn between a composer, his wife and a young girl from the countryside. Through a series of twists and turns, their lives are thrown into turmoil when the new housemaid transforms into a femme fatale. Woman of Fire is a remake of Kim Ki-young’s classic The Housemaid (1960), stylized with the energy and passion of 1970s Korean cinema. A highly lurid chamber drama set against the backdrop of social inequality, the two women play games of seduction and trickery, ultimately descending together with the household’s male figure. Grotesque melodrama sits at the heart of this film, encapsulating the fatality and futility of women’s roles in the domestic horror genre.
The screening of the film is supported by the Korean Film Archive.
Nikki J.Y. Lee is a Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University. Her research interests include the history of Noir genre films in South Korean cinema and the globalization of the Korean film industry. In the School of Arts and Humanities at Nottingham Trent University, she mainly teaches Asian Media and Cinema and Documentary. Apart from her professional career as an academic researcher and lecturer, she worked as an independent documentary-maker; as an interpreter and translator for film-related events and media; and was involved in organising the first London Korean Film Festival in 2001.
Followed by a talk on Zoom
After learning of her childhood friend Mei-Hua’s murder, dance teacher Ling-Ling heads to Tokyo to investigate. There, she clashes with vicious gangsters and loses an eye, prompting her to build a troupe of female fighters seeking revenge against the men who abused them – hunting and killing them in the wildest fashions. In the 1980s, Taiwan had been under more than 30 years of martial law. During the final throes of a violent dictatorship a cinema featuring the underworld of the city emerged, subverting decades of propaganda cinema to reveal a long suppressed collective consciousness. Immersed in a milieu of drug trafficking, gambling, prostitution, and violent crime, Woman Revenger is an example of this resistant cinema.
The screening of this film is supported by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute and the Taiwan Cinema Toolkit.
Ting-Wu Cho is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cinema Studies at New York University. Her dissertation project focuses on Taiwan Pulp, a group of understudied exploitation films in Taiwan in the late Cold War period. Her research interests include film industry studies, genre studies, media ethnography, and Chinese language cinemas, with a focus on Taiwanese film history. She is also a guest curator for Woman Make Waves International Film Festival, Taiwan.
Rebellious and spirited, Chinese American-born Catherine works as a waitress in New York City. After a near-fatal run-in with a secret agent, she wakes up in a CIA facility where she is implanted with a microchip and trained to be a cold-blooded killer. Operating under the assassin code name ‘Black Cat’, she is transferred to Hong Kong on a mission where she is forced to choose between a new found love and the agency. Bordering on nihilism, Black Cat strays away from the classic Girls With Guns model, whilst still retaining some of the genre’s traits. Fight scenes are few and far between, as the protagonist’s conflicts primarily take place in the psychological domain. As the heroine transforms into a government controlled cyborg, the film provides a glimpse into the complexities of technofeminism, illustrating the problematic dynamic between woman, discipline, and machine.
The Tachibana yakuza clan is recognisable by the back tattoos sported by its members: a dragon which takes full form when they line up alongside each other. The head of the dragon is carried by leader Akemi, who, during a fight, slashes the eyes of an opponent. The blind victim vows revenge, killing off each member of the gang and collecting their tattooed skins until she faces off with Akemi in a climactic sword fight. With its grotesque, violent, and erotic imagery, Blind Woman’s Curse is a vivid amalgam of genre influences from horror, yakuza, and sexploitation films. The theme of revenge, whilst integral to the plot, is ultimately subverted as the protagonists woefully ponder its futility towards the end.
Laura Treglia is currently an independent scholar. She holds a PhD in Gender Studies and MA in Japanese Studies (both awarded by SOAS, University of London) and has been visiting lecturer and assistant professor in the UK and Qatar. Her research interests include feminist film and media theory, East Asian religions and philosophies, genre and cult cinema, Japanese society and culture, and television studies.