Ştefan RUSU

curation / film programs

Nothing To Lose: The Melancholy of Resistance

Location: Vortragssaal, The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 
Period: 03.02.2018

Artists/filmmakers:
Tan Chui Mui (MY), Nguyen Trinh Thi (VN), John Torres (PH), Taiki Sakpisit (TH), Lo King-wah (HK), Kiri Dalena (PH), Danaya Chulphuthiphong (TH)

Curated by Stefan Rusu

The program presents a selection of short films from the ASEAN region, reflecting on the current rise of populism and state of disorder. Southeast Asia’s economic and political development is extremely fragile and subjected to internal conflicts and forms of authoritarianism. From the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to the Rohingya persecution in Myanmar—contemporary politics across the region show many examples of undemocratic leadership. Thailand remains under military rule, in Vietnam the media is state controlled, while in Hong Kong, in late 2014, the so called Umbrella Movement emerged, peacefully protesting in reaction to proposed reforms to the electoral system. Under such circumstances, artists and filmmakers engage in providing context to the conflicts and controversies of the day, and act against fear, violence and lost values.

Tan Chui Mui created a fiction story of a perfect society in which no one is allowed to speak. Nguyễn Trinh Thi is preoccupied by examining the position of artists in the Vietnamese society and plays in her work with the original plot line of a propagandist story of patriotism. Seoi and June are two young girls with whom filmmaker Lo King-Wah is walking through Umbrella movement in Hong Kong documenting from the inside the protest movement.
At the same time making a movie about a subject of civic importance loses much of its substance, value, and usefulness if it doesn’t reflect, engage, emerge from the filmmaker’s private life and intimate experience, the way John Torres does in his film. While Taiki Sakpisit from Thailand creates an intense audio-visual space crystalizing the fear of a nation as it approaches the end of an era. In this context Kiri Dalena conceive her work as both documentation and critical commentary on historical and current state of national political affairs. Finally, the film by Danaya Chulphuthiphong is an attempt to depict the gloom, the oppression and the surreality that exists in Thailand since the military coup in 2014.

With the title of the program, Moldovian filmmaker and curator Stefan Rusu refers to the famous phrase from the Communist Manifesto—"You have nothing to lose but your chains!"—, and, in the title's second part, puts this worker's slogan in contrast to the 1989 novel by Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance, which sheds a pessimistic light on the power of social order and values as well as the possibility of revolutionary change.

FILMS
One Future, Tan Chui Mui, MY 2009, 5'
Song to the Front, Nguyen Trinh Thi, VN 2011/12, 5'
We Don’t Care For Democracy, This Is What We Want: Love And Hope And Its Many Faces, John Torres, PH 2010, 12'
The Age of Anxiety, Taiki Sakpisit, TH 2013, 14'
Senyo and Jun, Lo King-wah, HK 2015, 20'
Requiem for M, Kiri Dalena, PH 2010, 7'
Demos, Danaya Chulphuthiphong, TH 2016, 13'

„Nothing To Lose: The Melancholy of Resistance“ film program was part of 2018 edition of Transmediale Festival of Art and Digital Culture titled FACE VALUE.