Southeast Asian cinema

Southeast Asian cinema

Southeast Asian cinema refers to the film industry and films produced in, and/or by natives of, Southeast Asia. By definition, it describes any films produced in Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Southeast Asian cinema is a sub-section of continental Asian cinema, which in turn comes under the umbrella term of World cinema, a term used in some anglophone countries to describe any foreign language films.

Key figures



*Kyi Soe TunBurma's most prominent director. His films include "Upstream" and "Blood".


*Haing S. NgorAcademy Award-winning Cambodian-American actor ("The Killing Fields")
*Rithy Panh – French-schooled documentarian and filmmaker.


*Christine Hakim – Veteran actress ("Whispering Sands").
*Dian Sastrowardoyo – Popular actress ("Whispering Sands").
*Joko Anwar – Film critic and director ("Janji Joni").
*Riri Riza – Director of "Gie".
*Mira Lesmana - Producer ("Gie").


*Som Ock Southiponh – Independent director, producer and screenwriter ("Red Lotus").


*P. Ramlee – Leading man, screenwriter and director.
* U-Wei Bin Hajisaari - Director and screenwriter
*Abdul Razak Mohaideen – Director.
* Tsai Ming-liang
* Yasmin Ahmad
* Amir Muhammad
* Ho Yuhang
* James Lee
* Michael Chuah
* Tan Chui Mui
* Woo Ming Jin


MAJOR FILM ACTORS and ACTRESSES (aka Biggest Stars of All Time)
* Nora Aunor- the Philippines' Superstar and one of the biggest box-office actresses and singers of all-time. During the height of her career in the 70s, she raised Philippine music sales by up to 135%. Her rivalry with movie queen Vilma Santos established the longest running and fiercest rivalry in Filipino show business history. Also widely and arguably considered as the Philippines' greatest thespian, she had won the FAMAS Hall of Fame for winning the Philippines' Oscars, the FAMAS Award five times for Best Actress and the Gawad Urian (critics' award) six times, as well as three international awards which includes the Brussels International Film Festival Award for Best Actress. She usually plays downgraded Filipino women of virtue in her films such as "Himala" (1982), "Ina Ka ng Anak Mo" (1979), "Minsa'y Isang Gamugamo" (1976), "The Flor Contemplation Story" (1995) and "Bakit May Kahapon Pa" (1996), which were hit to the "bakya" (masses) crowd.
* Claudine Barretto- the younger sister of 1990s sex siren Gretchen Barretto, Claudine started as a child star who was groomed as a leading lady from her teens. Starting in comedy shows such as "Ang TV" and "Home Along da Riles," Barretto became Star Cinema's biggest box-office draws when she began taking leading lady roles, most notable with Aga Muhlach in "Kailangan Kita" (2002) and with Piolo Pascual in "Milan" (2004). She is a FAMAS Award-winning actress.
* Nida Blanca- the first winner of the FAMAS Award for Best Supporting Actress, the biggest star of LVN Pictures in the 1950s and 1960s was the other half of the most popular loveteam of all time in Philippine history, the Nida Blanca-Nestor de Villa song-and-dance love team. Their movies made gold for the biggest studio of the 1950s, LVN Pictures. In fact, their movie, "Ibong Adarna" (1955), was the first to gross one million pesos (P 50 million in 2008 pesos). When LVN closed shop, Nida moved on from romantic and comedic roles to heavier dramatic leading and supporting roles from which she got the bulk of her total of 14 awards, including 4 FAMAS Awards.
* Sharon Cuneta- the Philippines' Megastar and one of the biggest box-office actresses of all-time, the former pioneer of the so-called Manila Sound was the Philippines' answer to Cinderella with her rags-to-riches roles in her early films. Her singing career was also one of the most successful in the Philippines. Widely known for her role as a stepmother in the movie "Madrasta", which earned her all of the Best Actress awards in the Philippines in 1997 and has won two FAMAS Awards, Cuneta is more famous now as a television talk-show host. Nevertheless, she still commands one of the highest talent fees in Philippine show business.
* Rogelio de la Rosa- the original King of Philippine Movies, de la Rosa became the first Filipino movie star to campaign for vice-presidency. His career goes back into the pre-war years and continued to flourish up until the 1950s, after which he became involved in politics. He is a FAMAS Award-winning actor.
* Christopher de Leon- the Philippines' Drama King, the love interest of Vilma Santos in 24 films and the former husband of Nora Aunor has etched his mark in Philippine cinema with his forceful and sensitive portrayal of the Filipino working-class man. His great dramatic prowess made him the choice leading man of the Philippine movie queens. He also won the FAMAS Hall of Fame.
* Dolphy- the Philippines' King of Comedy started his performing stints at the now defunct Manila Opera House with the great stage stars of the Philippines. Dolphy is better-known for his portrayal of homosexuals on film, of which he alone made the Filipino homosexual a comical character of great value and virtue, though he was a ladykiller in real-life ironically. Today, with a career spannign from the 1950's up until today, he and movie queen Gloria Romero remains the only links of Philippine moviegoers to the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema.
* Joseph Estrada- the Filipino movie star who is well-known internationally as the deposed 13th President of the Philippines, he is Fernando Poe, Jr.' serious rival to the throne of King of Philippine Cinema. Another defender of the masses, which won him five FAMAS Awards and the Hall of Fame, he used this to gauge his entry into polotics in 1969 as mayor of the Manila suburb San Juan. He slowly rose to power as a Senator, Vice President and finally President. He was deposed in 2001 after an alleged payola scam involving the illegal numbers game "jueteng".
* Eddie Garcia- forever etched in Philippine cinema history as the suave villain and winner of 16 FAMAS Awards and three FAMAS Hall of Fames, Garcia, like Solis, has adapted his career with the changing times. In the 1950s and 1960s, he usually played the mestizo villains who terrorized Lolita Rodriguez, Rita Gomez or Gloria Romero in their movies. When bomba or sexy films became a hit in the 1970s, he became a great sex comedy actor. In the 1990s, when male leads were getting on the action star trend, he became one at the age of seventy. He is also a noted director in the Philippines who made considerable amount of money for Viva Films in films that usually starred Vilma Santos. He is a FAMAS Hall fo Fame winner in Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director categories.
* Rita Gomez- one of the drama queens of Philippine cinema's Golden Age, Gomez has taken a gamut of roles from a transsexual to a saint to a troubled movie star. Her competence as a movie actress is well established and her performances generally masterful, controlled and well-portrayed. She won the FAMAS Award for Best Actress twice.
* Aga Muhlach- Amalia Fuentes' nephew stepped out of the shadows to become Christopher de Leon's great threat to leading man supremacy. Initially making his mark in the cult youth-oriented film "Bagets" (1984), Muhlach graduated to meatier roles as a confused and rebellious teenager in "Miguelito: Batang Rebelde" (1985) and "Napakasakit Kuya Eddie" (1986), of which he won his first of three Gawad Urians. He won the FAMAS Award for Best Actor in the Vilma Santos starrer "Sinungaling Mong Puso" (1992). Today, he is one of the most sought after leading men in the industry.
* Fernando Poe, Jr.- the King of Philippine cinema who is mostly known for his action movie roles, Poe became a star due to the Filipino's innate fancy with saviors. Frequently cast as the defender of the masses, Poe has built up a mythical image as the Filipino alpha male who never dies in the end of the film. Poe has carved himself a niche in the industry by winning the FAMAS Hall of Fame for Best Actor, directing and producing his own films. From his rise to stardom in 1958 to his death in 2004, no one and probably no one will, dethroned him as the King.
* Piolo Pascual- the 2000s' biggest male star, his box-office mettle and his critically-acclaimed talent in portraying men with special roles, Pascual is hailed as the new Drama King of Philippine cinema. He had won all Best Supporting actor awards in 2002 for his portrayal as Vilma Santos' activist son in "Dekada '70".
* Lolita Rodriguez- one of the undisputed three drama queens of the Golden Age of Philippine cinema, Lolita Rodriguez is better-known for her dramatic prowess, which she used to full hilt with films such as "Gilda" (1955) and "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang" (1974), where she both won Best Actress FAMAS Awards. She is widely considered as one of the Best Actresses of All Time in the Philippines.
* Gloria Romero- Sampaguita Pictures' biggest and daintiest star, she was touted by her mother studio as the "Sampaguita Pictures Star with the Humblest Face." More well-known as a barrio lass in her film roles, she won the only FAMAS Award awarded to an actress for a comedic role in 1954 for "Dalagang Ilocana". To a degree a rival of Nida Blanca, she tried to equal the Nida Nestor loveteam with the Gloria Romero-Luis Gonzales loveteam but did not succeed to upstage Nida and Nestor because Nida and Nestor knew how to sing and dance, two things that Gloria and Luis cannot do as proficiently as Nida and Nestor. When Sampaguita Pictures slowed down in making films, Gloria followed Nida's career path and went on to win the bulk of her acting awards in her supporting roles in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. She amassed three FAMAS Awards and two Gawad Urians. She won the latter in her seventies.
* Leopoldo Salcedo- the man who singlehandedly broke the mold of Filipino movie stardom. Frequently cited as the first Filipino male star with drak-skinned features, Salcedo starred in the silent films way back in the 1920s and continued his career up until the 1980s. He is most widely known in his FAMAS Award-winning role in "The Moises Padilla Story" (1961). He won a second FAMAS for "Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon" (1976).
* Judy Ann Santos- the Young Superstar, Judy Ann Santos is currently running neck-to-neck with Claudine Barretto as the Queen of Philippine teledramas. Starting as a child star, Santos has gained wide acclaim and following with her rags-to-riches role in the teledrama "Mara Clara". She then graduated to movie star status, peaking with her co-starring with Fernando Poe, Jr. in "Isusumbong Kita sa Tatay Ko" (1997), which is the first Filipino film to gross one hundred million pesos. She is a FAMAS Award-winning actress.
* Vilma Santos- the Philippines' Star for All Seasons and Superstar Nora Aunor's great rival for box-office supremacy in the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s, Santos has her own share of multiple awards for her equally glittering and masterful performances. Another winner of the FAMAS Hall of Fame and 8 Gawad Urians, Santos has done every role imaginable, from an activist nun ("Sister Stella L.") to a rich girl who fell in love with a rebel ("Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-Itim ng Tagak"), from an adulteress with a heart ("Relasyon") to a maimed housewife under the horrors of Martial Law ("Dekada '70"), she would be forever etched in cinema history as the first to win a Grand Slam (winning all of the Best Actress awards in the Philippines) in 1982 for "Relasyon". Santos has edged her way to become Philippine cinema's longest box-office queen and enduring movie queen. An institution of film, Santos now serves as Governor of Batangas, a Philippine province south of Manila.
* Charito Solis- the rival of Lolita Rodriguez to drama queen supremacy, she was the first actress to win the FAMAS Hall of Fame for Best Actress. Charito Solis is LVN Pictures' answer to Sampaguita Pictures' Lolita Rodriguez and Rita Gomez. Charito Solis is well-known as the "Enduring Star," having adapted to the trends of Pilippine cinema over the years. During her big stardom in the 1950s and the 1960s, she starred as the leading lady of LVN Pictures and was also a box-office draw. Taking unconventional roles such as her FAMAS Award-winning role as a mountain maiden in "Igorota" (1968), she risked her on-screen persona as a repressed maiden to a bold and daring woman in the 1970s, when sexy or bomba films prevailed the screens in movies like "Walang Katapusang Tag-Araw" (1978) and "Mga Uhaw na Bulaklak" (1976). Understanding that her young star days are over, she moved smoothly to major matronly supporting roles in the 1980s and the 1990s with great success and still commanding top-billing status.
* Maricel Soriano- the Philippines' Diamond Star, she is the only one of the drama queens who has gained great critical acclaim, awards and box-office supremacy with both drama and comedy. Launched as a teenage star by movie mogul Lily Monteverde, Soriano graduated to dramatic, award-winning roles in "Kaya Kong Abutin ang Langit" (1984), "Hinugot sa Langit" (1986), "Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal" (1992) and "Dahas" (1995). Of the box-office queens still working today, she is one of the most in-demand and highest paid.


*Eric Khoo – Acclaimed director ("Be with Me").
*Jack Neo – Popular Singaporean actor and director ("I Not Stupid").
*Royston Tan – Acclaimed filmmaker ("15", "881")


*Apichatpong WeerasethakulCannes-prize winning Thai avant garde director ("Blissfully Yours", "Tropical Malady").
*Chatrichalerm Yukol – Veteran director ("The Legend of Suriyothai", "King Naresuan").
*Nonzee Nimibutr – Director and producer who influenced the Thai industry's pan-Asian directions ("Nang Nak", "Jan Dara").
*The Pang Brothers – Although born in Hong Kong, these twin-brother filmmakers got their start in Thailand and made "Bangkok Dangerous" in 1999 and "The Eye", a pan-Asian co-production in 2002.
*Pen-Ek Ratanaruang – "New wave" director ("Last Life in the Universe", "Invisible Waves").
*Tony Jaa – Action star ("", "Tom-Yum-Goong").
*Wisit Sasanatieng – "New wave" director ("Tears of the Black Tiger", "Citizen Dog")


*Tran Anh Hung – French-trained expatriate director of "Cyclo" and other films.
*Nguyen Vo Nghiem Minh – ("Buffalo Boy")
*Dang Nhat Minh – ("Girl on the River", "Guava Season")
*Tony Bui – ("Yellow Lotus", "Green Dragon")
*Ringo Le - Vietnamese-American film director ("Saigon Love Story")
*Dustin Nguyen – Vietnamese-American actor.
*Johnny Tri Nguyen – Vietnamese-American stuntman and actor ("Tom-Yum-Goong", "Saigon Eclipse")

ee also

* World cinema
* Asian cinema
* East Asian cinema
* South Asian cinema
* Middle Eastern cinema

Further reading

* "Contemporary Asian Cinema", Anne Tereska Ciecko, editor. Berg, 2006. ISBN 1 84520237 6

External links

* [] - Manila-based scholarly journal on Southeast Asian cinema.
* [ Asian Film Archive] - Singapore-based organization founded to preserve the film heritage of Singapore and Asian cinema.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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