Southeast Asian Social

Static Gallery, Roscoe Lane
14th November 2009

Reviewed by John Owen

A cosy informal afternoon was spent at the excellent Static Gallery on Roscoe Lane, where a southeast Asian Film Festival was being shown, organised by Fact curators and highlighting the work of auteur Apichatpong Weerase Thakul's UK exhibition.

The programme of events started with food of a delicious hot sweet and sour nature traditional Thai curry and as much as you could eat, the buffet itself was reason enough to go. The short films were however a meditation on the life of people in the region and the ongoing quest of artists to portray the world in which they live and breathe, not to make it up as they go along but to try accurately record it in artistic fashion.

Five small vignettes were shown, one a musical street vendors version of a twopenny opera, as sellers attract custom to their business beating out the tunes on the tuk-tuk style mobile foodery - raw footage of simple daily customs on the backstreets.

A ghost festival which although politically suspect and frowned upon by the authorities was equally gripping - no logic, just clear simple linear narrative following the procession. The dog for dinner film may of caused a few people to squeal but the harsh reality and native custom for pet food prevailed here.

The other two documentary-style efforts were treatises on USA imperialism in the southeast Asian world - atomic bombs, GI Joes working for the mighty dollar and all the trappings of the consumer led west the whole world should aspire to.

The last showed elderly women feeding a tree spirit with boiled rice, a slower version of wicker man style fertility and crop worshipping dances to appease the gods.

All in all a unique and exotic mix of film and interesting aftershow debate led by curators.

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