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Staff & contributors

A breathtaking and enigmatic masterpiece of Thai cinema, Tropical Maladyis a poetic and deeply philosophical exploration of human desire, spirituality, and the mysteries of nature. It follows the story of two men, a soldier and a farmer, who fall in love and embark on a journey deep into the heart of the jungle, where they encounter a shape-shifting spirit. The film's surreal and dreamlike imagery is mesmerizing, and the performances are outstanding, especially the nuanced and subtle portrayal of the two protagonists. This film is truly a stunning and unforgettable work of art that challenges our perceptions of love, identity, and reality.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Actor: Banlop Lomnoi, Sakda Kaewbuadee

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

, 2021

Education is a human right, but for many girls around the world, this isn’t necessarily guaranteed– especially if they want to learn past the required years of basic education. Yuni is a coming-of-age drama that depicts a girl in West Java, Indonesia who wants to go to university, but due to the marriage and virginity culture in the area, her main problem isn’t having to pass the entrance exams, or figuring out how to get financial aid. Instead, it’s having to fend off marriage proposals that clearly don’t come from a place of love. Writer-director Kamila Andini depicts the titular protagonist with the freedoms rarely granted to a girl like her, with the happiness and belonging all girls should be able to find solace in, but she also depicts the casual ways oppression lingers in the background, with society just waiting to kill women’s dreams, hopes, and personal goals. Yuni is an honest and powerful portrait of many women around the globe.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anne Yasmine, Arawinda Kirana, Asmara Abigail, Ayu Laksmi, Dimas Aditya, Kevin Ardilova, Marissa Anita, Mian Tiara, Muhammad Khan, Neneng Wulandari, Nova Eliza, Rukman Rosadi, Sekar Sari, Vania Aurellia

Director: Kamila Andini

Meditative, slow, and peppered with mysticism and subtle humour, Syndromes and a Century is a truly unique Thai drama. With a male and female doctor as the central protagonists, the story is split into two settings, in different hospitals and 40 years apart. This is not a plot-driven movie by any means. Patiently paced scenes weave together the protagonists’ memories with their current lives, in a hypnotic thread that touches on Buddhist themes as it explores the timeless human experiences of love, relationships, illness, and death.

The movie was originally intended to be a tribute to the parents of writer and director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, himself the son of physicians who worked in a hospital. Though he went on to claim that the movie took a different path eventually, it does recall the enigmatic spirit and ethereal quality of childhood memories. Despite—or maybe thanks to—the absence of narrative, Syndromes and a Century remains a beguiling watch from start to finish.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Jaruchai Iamaram, Jenjira Pongpas, Nantarat Sawaddikul, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Sophon Pukanok

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

The pulp and machismo that defined the ‘80s is very much present in Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, but instead of glorifying the era, Indonesian auteur Edwin smartly flips the script and puts the headstrong Iteung (Ladya Cheryl) front and center in this subversive and heady action film. As the anti-damsel-in-distress, Iteung expertly wrestles her way through love, all while retaining an endearing cheekiness and independence about her. 

Excellently choreographed, impeccably detailed, and skewed with enough of a feminist bent to keep it fresh, Vengeance Is Mine fittingly won the top prize at the 74th Locarno International Film Festival.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Actor: Arie Dagienkz, Ayu Laksmi, Brilliana Desy Dwinawati, Cecep Arif Rahman, Christine Hakim, Djenar Maesa Ayu, Eduwart Manalu, Elang El Gibran, Elly D. Luthan, Kevin Ardilova, Kiki Narendra, Ladya Cheryl, Lukman Sardi, Marthino Lio, Maryam Supraba, Max Yanto, Piet Pagau, Ratu Felisha, Reza Rahadian, Sal Priadi

Director: Edwin

Rating: TV-MA

Painfully intimate and told with very, very little dialogue, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt resembles the experience of flipping through a photo book and pausing to admire every page. Which is to say that this is a film that requires not only one's complete attention but—like many other arthouse dramas—a willingness to sit with the mundane until it reveals something more profound. The nearly silent nature of its storytelling can be a little awkward, given how lifelike the rest of the movie is, but one should hopefully get used to the idea that this is an attempt to represent something closer to memory than reality. Whether or not the experience sticks or strikes an emotional chord, it's all beautifully put together, with lush cinematography, impeccably detailed sound design, and thoughtful sequencing of one image after another.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Charleen McClure, Chris Chalk, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Moses Ingram, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim, Zainab Jah

Director: Raven Jackson

Rating: PG