What to watch when the Asian Restored Classics film festival returns tomorrow

If you can’t wait for the upcoming film festivals from Israel and Malaysia, you’ll be pleased to know the annual Asian Restored Classics film festival is returning for its third edition this August. From Aug 24-Sep 2, the festival happening across two venues and weekends will showcase nine timeless restored gems from around Asia, focusing particularly on the ‘20s to the ‘90s. This year’s line-up sees a thoughtfully curated mix of countries, so whether you’re in the mood for a Hong Kong indie flick, a Japanese ramen comedy, or even a Singaporean-Malaysian horror film, you’ll find something to enjoy at the festival.

Made in Hong Kong (Aug 25, 4pm)

This one’s for all the Hong Kong indie film fans who pledged their allegiance the moment they clapped their eyes on Wong Kar Wai. You won’t get sultry neon visuals of a blossoming romance here; instead, the Hong Kong cityscape is backdrop to a fast-paced crime drama involving a small-time hoodlum who barrels straight into a string of problems: letters left behind by a schoolgirl suicide, bizarre wet dreams, family drama and a devastating relationship. Directed by Fruit Chan and produced by Andy Lau, this 1997 gem is now regarded as one of the greatest cult classics in Hong Kong film history.

Orang Minyak (Aug 25, 8pm)

, What to watch when the Asian Restored Classics film festival returns tomorrow

For decades we lived in fear of the Orang Minyak—one of Southeast Asia’s most terrifying urban legends, ranked alongside the likes of the Pontianak. Translating directly to ‘Oily Man’, the Orang Minyak is said to be a supernatural creature coated with black grease, which lets him slip easily from kampongs to HDBs, terrorizing women (especially virgins) in the dead of night. This 1958 classic directed by Malaysian filmmaker L. Krishnan tells the tale in a small village, and is the first cinematic iteration of the horror figure, brought to life by Shaw Brothers’ Malay Film Productions and Cathay-Keris.

Batch ’81 (Aug 30, 8pm)

Everyone knows fraternities suck, but that didn’t stop director Mike de Leon from the Philippines from spelling it out in his film. In Batch ’81, university student Sid Lucerno dreams of joining Alpha Kappa Omega—but must accept the violence and degradation that comes with brotherhood, even after surviving brutal initiation rites. The film went on to become a hugely important case study on the sadomasochistic psyche of fraternities in the Philippines, and has also been viewed as a metaphor for the harsh political regime under the rule of Ferdinand Marcos.

Aimless Bullet (Sep 1, 4pm)

, What to watch when the Asian Restored Classics film festival returns tomorrow

We’ll be honest—you can stream the entire Aimless Bullet on YouTube; but it might be worth paying to catch this 1961 Korean film on the big screen. Banned by the government when it was first released for supposedly sympathizing with North Korea, this South Korean drama (also known as Obaltan) from Yu Hyun-mok paints an unflinching portrait of the realities living in post-war Seoul. The plot centers on sole breadwinner Cheol-ho and the various personal issues his family members are facing—each is affected by the aftermath of the Korean War; Cheol-ho himself is battling a pesky toothache, which of course holds more symbolism than just rotting molars.

Tampopo (Sep 1, 8pm)

Before there was Ramen Teh, there was Tampopo. This original food fantasia covers a breadth of action (from gang fights to culinary erotica), but ultimately revolves around a keen and spirited widow’s journey to find the perfect ramen recipe. Marketed as the first “ramen western”—a play on the term “Spaghetti Western” referring to the body of work from Italian production studios on the American Old West—the 1985 Japanese comedy puns off stereotypical American movie themes, characters and shots.

Dark Heaven (Sep 2, 3pm)

, What to watch when the Asian Restored Classics film festival returns tomorrow

How often do you come across Thai musicals? This 1958 musical-comedy-romance-drama by Rattana Pestonji sees the unlikely coupling of a poor orphan girl on the run and a singing garbage collector who gives her refuge. When they’re torn apart and later reunited, Nien must decide between the new life she’s adjusted to or her old one with her lover. Catch it at the Gallery Theatre for its 60th anniversary screening.

Asian Restored Classics 2018 runs from Aug 24-25 at Capitol Theatre and Aug 30-Sep 2 at the Gallery Theatre, National Museum of Singapore. Tickets and more information here