Welcome to the New Durian Cinema!

One balmy October evening, as Singapore International Film Festival executive director Yuni Hadi, Indonesian film director Riri Riza and his producer Mira Lesmana, and myself were having a drink, our conversation strayed into the subject of durian. We confessed our love-and-hate relationship with what many people in Southeast Asia regard as the king of fruits.

“We have durian-flavored coffee.”
“Have you tried the savory durian with rice? They have it in Malaysia.”
“I’ve tried shrimp and durian soup.”
“There’s a restaurant in Jogjakarta that features an all-durian menu.”
“Sometimes I place durian shell near the aircon because I love how it smells.”
“Ewwww.”
“There’s a durian-scented air freshener in Thailand.”

The conversation about durian went on for above five minutes until we shifted to film festivals and the 2015 Oscars race (Miss Hadi was one of the producers of Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo). Sitting there, I feel the connection stronger than ever. Despite being divided by the great seas and dispersed into the fertile archipelagos of Southeast Asia, we are linked by our immense love for cinema and a botanical icon that has spawned countless cultural forms and meanings. Inspired by these two things, the New Durian Cinema seeks to celebrate the regional film new wave that is sweeping Southeast Asia. It is particularly thrilling because the development of film movements outside of the capital deconstructs the monopoly of the center, rendering the periphery as the new frontier for exciting and insightful images, visions and trajectories in Southeast Asian cinema.

So we invite you to have a taste of our durian. It may take a lot of getting used to but we will get there. And, oh, it is fattening.

– Teng Mangansakan

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