ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.
Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:
Even in troubled times, the Krishen Jit Fund stands firmly behind arts scene
The Star, Malaysia
For the domestic arts scene, rebounding from the pandemic outbreak is going to take a massive effort. The past two months has been nothing but meltdown news on the arts front, interspersed with the Government seemingly downplaying the challenges faced by the arts community.
Right now, every little bit counts to help the arts community. Many arts practitioners are still hopeful, and are making plans to rebuild and recover.
The news that the Krishen Jit Fund will be calling for submissions soon is a welcome one. Now in its 15th year, the fund, which is supported by Astro and the Creador Foundation, has been supporting Malaysian artists in realising their projects.
Juan Miguel Severo: ‘This is the time to hear stories that normalize queer love’
“I write and perform,” that’s what Juan Miguel Severo likes to tell people when he’s asked about the work that he does. Severo is what you usually call a multi-hyphenate: he’s a poet, a writer, a screenwriter, a playwright, and an actor. But Severo feels that distilling his work into two categories (writing and performing) is more straightforward and, uh, perhaps less obnoxious.
He says, “I used to be very specific about the stuff I do but it can be limiting and I feel like an ass sometimes when I enumerate them so ‘yun na lang. I write and perform.”
Severo is a “guy who regularly bares his soul onstage”; his spoken word poetry transcend performativeness. Perhaps that’s why he’s garnered such a massive audience since the time one of his pieces, “Ang Huling Tula na Isusulat Ko Para Sa ‘Yo,” went viral on YouTube.
These days, Severo is busy. He’s prepping a queer rom-com series for Globe Studios — starring queer actors. He’s also working with other artists and writes poetry. In fact, he’s writing more these days.
Uncle Boonmee at 10
Rumour had spread early that morning that the Thai film would win big that night. How big? We daren’t dream. The runner-up prize maybe? The Cannes grapevine, in those embryonic days of Facebook and Twitter, was fairly dependable but not downright on the money. It gives you the shape but never the details. The Thai film “will definitely win something”, said one of my supposedly well-connected friends, accompanied by a speculative wink.
That something turned out to be the biggest award of Cannes, the world’s most prestigious film festival. That night of May 23, 2010, or exactly 10 years ago this weekend, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, wearing his white tuxedo and wide grin, stepped up on stage to accept the Palme d’Or, arguably the most coveted trophy in world cinema, for his strange, luminous film Loong Boonmee Raluek Chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives). “I liked your hairstyle,” the Thai filmmaker teased Tim Burton, the jury president (the best jury president ever), then, in his typically esoteric yet completely genuine tone: “I thank all the ghosts and spirits in Thailand that made this possible.”
Indonesia’s first homegrown MOBA game, Lokapala, draws from the archipelago’s legends
Jakarta-based game developer Anantarupa Studios has launched Indonesia’s first multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game: Lokapala. It will soon enter the country’s professional gaming competitions, which have previously been dominated by foreign-made games.
Anantarupa and publisher Melon Indonesia, a subsidiary of state-owned telecommunications giant Telkom, launched the game on the Google Play Store on Wednesday.
“After two years of hard work and collaboration with comic artist Ragasukma, animation studio Kratoon, composer Elwin Hendrijanto and audio production house INharmonic, we present you the first local e-sports game in Indonesia,” Anantarupa managing director Diana Paskarina said.
His Story Never Died: An Interview With Arn Chorn-Pond
Sitting inside the dimly-lit reception area of the Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) in Phnom Penh, I nervously took note of the time: nearly 45 years since the Khmer Rouge came to power; almost 40 years since his escape and journey toward survival; 20 years since the inception of the Cambodian Living Arts, and merely an hour-and-a-half to capture it all through the inadequacy of words. Amidst the discomforting silence that was occasionally interrupted by the pacing steps of the CLA artists and staff across the hall, my knees rocked to the sound of every passing second on the wall clock as I became overwhelmed by the time that was weighing on me.
Arn Chorn-Pond is the founder of the Cambodian Living Arts and a celebrated musician, he’s also known as one of the few children who survived the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era (1975-79). Truth be told, upon meeting him, I reckoned much less about his celebrated status that had until then, made its way into my scribbled notes. Instead, I was drawn more toward the air of humility that adorned Arn; in addition to wearing his larger-than-life laugh and the checkered-printed krama around his neck, with woven colors that appeared to alternate much like his experiences of resilience and despair. I soon came to realize that his story – tantamount to the collective history of the people in Cambodia and their efforts (or lack of) to deal with past atrocities – was akin to photographic memories; so vivid that they did not need my words to be revived.
‘Lost’ in Hanoi’s alley of age-old bookstores
Tuoi Tre News, Vietnam
Dinh Le Street, which has been better known for many years as ‘the book street,’ is dubbed a heaven for book lovers in the Vietnamese capital.
Entering any aged bookstores on the street, visitors can come across a fascinating book and have a chance to immerse themselves in a quiet space and the smell of old papers.
Despite the book street’s popularity, only the most dedicated bookworms know there are more gems hidden in the narrow alley at No. 5 Dinh Le Street.
On the first floor of an old apartment building down the alley are the city’s oldest bookstores that have been in place for decades.
About the author(s)
Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.