- Framing the Aftertaste of Loss: Food and (In)Digestion in Haruhara-san’s Recorder／Yutaka Kubo（Kanazawa University）
- From the Transregional to the Transnational──the Representation of Contemporary Uyghur People Across Asia／LI Wenxin（Nagoya University）
- Yanbian as Method──Border-crossing Chaoxianzu (Korean-Chinese) On Screen and The Poetics/Politics of Dis-Attachment／MA Ran（Nagoya University）
【Commentator】CHEN Chih-ting, Timmy（Hong Kong Baptist University）
【Chairperson】MA Ran（Nagoya University）
The first panel of "Thinking with the Intersection/al: Affects, Food, and Mobility in Inter-Asian Cinema" uses intersectionality to explore inter-Asian filmmakers and their works. It examines intertwined issues like gender, ethnicity, and mobility in contemporary Asian contexts. Additionally, it contributes to inter-Asian studies, drawing from cinema studies, affect studies, and food studies.
Yutaka Kubo (Kanazawa University) delves into the film Haruhara-san's Recorder (2021), directed by Kyoshi Sugita during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The film focuses on the film's sensitive portrayal of grief and relief, particularly through the protagonist Sachiko's gradual emotional journey. Kubo's analysis takes a unique perspective by examining these emotions through the lens of food, drawing upon Shiloh Whitney's concept of "affective indigestion" (2016) and cinematic depictions of food. This approach helps audiences understand how the director employs recurring images and sounds of food the protagonist Sachiko consumes. Food, literally and figuratively, may provide nutrition to the bereft to get enough energy to move forward. Food, digestion, and mourning become invisible parts of mundane life routines. Through them, the protagonist is able to live with her sadness and memories, and regain some emotional fulfillment and the hope for starting a new life.
Li Wenxin (Nagoya University) gives a presentation on Xinjiang Cinema. Xinjiang Cinema includes films set in Xinjiang and films taking Xinjiang's ethnic minorities as filming subjects. Li uses two case studies: The Night of Arzu (2017) and Maria by the Sea (2019), directed by a young Uyghur director, Tawfiq Nizamidin. She argues that, unlike previous Uyghur characters in Xinjiang ethnic minority films, the Uyghur characters in Tawfiq’s works show a kind of complexity in terms of their multiple identities. To approach the ethnic, gender, and national identity in these two films under the context of Xinjiang Cinema, Li applies the theory of Sinophone cinema, which could help to understand the situation of contemporary Uyghur people’s lives, Uyghur language film production and Xinjiang ethnic minority migration in the cultural products from Sinitic-language circle. She cuts through the case studies from three aspects: mobilities, multilingual texts, and ambiguous identities. In Tawfiq’s works, the Uyghur protagonists characters migrate and live between Xinjiang, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Korea, speaking Uyghur, Mandarin, and Cantonese. They are citizens of mainland China who hold to their minority status; they are students studying in metropolises but are rejected by officials; they are the younger generation of Uyghur people still struggling to escape gender prejudice. Finally, Li believes that Tawfiq's creations resonate with the Sinophone cinema theory, offering a fresh perspective on the portrayals concerning Xinjiang and its ethnic minorities throughout Asia.
Ma Ran (Nagoya University) focuses on the screen representations of Chaoxianzu, also known as the Korean-Chinese ethnic minority within the People's Republic of China. Ma starts with the geographical location: Yanbian, where many Chaoxianzu live. She examines two works: the independent first-person documentary Indelible (Chisuji, 2020) by Tsunoda Ryuichi and the short film Girl from Yanbian (Enpen shōjo, 2020) by Wang Hong. In these cases, Chaoxianzu's representations differ from those portrayed in previous South Korean commercial narratives; the story and the characters are deeply intertwined with the filmmakers' diasporic journeys. Thus, Yanbian could be seen as a methodological lens to analyze the gathering of Chaoxianzu in Yanbian, their departure from the Yanbian, and their migration within Asia. Finally, Ma explores the concept of dis-attachment to investigate how filmmakers use Yanbian to create a complex space for departure, return, and self-discovery, marked by tensions related to their national and gender identities.
In summary, CHEN Chih-ting (Hong Kong Baptist University) comments that the three representations mainly concern minorities (sexual and ethnic minorities) in the East Asian context. Transnationality, trans-locality, and mobility could be the keywords. At the end of the panel, the audience asked questions about food, slow cinema, the representation of ethnic minorities, and multilingual text translation in the films.
This panel leverages the intersection/al as its departure point to scrutinize a specific line-up of inter-Asian filmmakers and their film works. On the one hand, this panel utilizes intersectionality as a critical framing as well as a methodology to examine the entwined issues of gender, ethnicity, and mobility pertaining to contemporary Asian contexts. On the other, it seeks to contribute to critical inter-Asian studies from the intersecting, interdisciplinary fields of cinema studies, affect studies, and food studies. Kubo Yutaka’s study focuses on the food representation in Kyoshi Sugita’s Haruhara san's Recorder (2021), and it explores the relationship between the temporality of (in)digestion and the process of mourning. Li Wenxin’s paper argues that two short films directed by a diasporic Uyghur filmmaker, Tawfiq Nizamidin, challenge the simplified perception of Xinjiang cinema by depicting ethnic minorities’ migrations and struggles with identity, complicating our understanding of territory, ethnicity, and nation in the context of Sinophone cinema. Ma Ran’s research focuses on the screen representations of Chaoxianzu, or the Korean-Chinese, and pays specific attention to how independent documentaries like Indelible (2020) and Girl from Yanbian (2020) by young generation diasporic filmmakers explore conflicting national and gender identities through the affective infrastructure of dis-attachment.
Framing the Aftertaste of Loss: Food and (In)Digestion in Haruhara-san’s Recorder／Yutaka Kubo（Kanazawa University）
Based on a piece of tanka by Naoko Higashi, Kyoshi Sugita’s Haruhara-san’s Recorder (2021) has successfully circulated at international film festivals such as the 32nd Marseille International Film Festival. The film depicts the seemingly mundane everyday life of Sachiko, a 20-something woman working at a café, having meals alone or with somebody else, and writing a letter that returns to her. This paper focuses on Haruhara-san’s Recorder, produced in late 2020 during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and examines its tender treatment of loss and relief. The protagonist slowly goes through these emotions, and this paper analyzes them from the perspective of food. To do this, I will turn to Shiloh Whitney's idea of “affective indigestion” (2016) and discourses on food in cinema. This will help to grasp Sugita’s cinematic language, which carefully utilizes recurring images and sounds of food that Sachiko’s body consumes. Importantly, I will extend my reading of Haruhara-san’s Recorder’s engagement with the temporality of (in)digestion. I will argue that the film opens up a way for viewers to imagine and critique the possibility that the (in)digestion of food signifies Sachiko's dragging of time necessary to absorb enough nutrition to face the loss of her same-sex beloved one.
From the Transregional to the Transnational──the Representation of Contemporary Uyghur People Across Asia／LI Wenxin（Nagoya University）
Xinjiang cinema is often considered to be films set in Xinjiang, an ethnic minority region in northwestern China, or films taking Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities, such as Uyghur and Kazakh, as their subjects. In this paper, I argue that two films, the Night of Arzu (2017) and Maria by the Sea (2019), directed by a diasporic Uyghur film auteur, Tawfiq Nizamidin (b.1991), have challenged the simplified perception of Xinjiang cinema. In his films, the protagonists have expanded their scale of migration—from migrating across different regions of China to embarking on inter-Asian movements (such as to Hong Kong and South Korea). Meanwhile, the multilingual blend in the film creates multivocality to consider the ethnic minority subjects’ struggling ethnic, gender, and national identities. These depictions of ethnic minorities in China have complicated our understanding of boundaries related to territory, ethnicity, and nation in the context of Sinophone cinema. As a result, they help to re-examine how representations of Xinjiang and its ethnic minorities are produced, transformed, and circulated across Asia, allowing for a critique of cultural essentialism and Sino-centrism.
Yanbian as Method──Border-crossing Chaoxianzu (Korean-Chinese) On Screen and The Poetics/Politics of Dis-Attachment／MA Ran（Nagoya University）
Chaoxianzu (pinyin in Chinese) or the Korean-Chinese, one of the 55 ethnic minorities in the People’s Republic of China. In South Korean blockbusters such as Yellow Sea (2010), Chaoxianzu migrants (chosŏnjok in Korean) are not only stereotypically depicted as the repressed, sometimes violent Other. Also, Yanbian, China’s Korean Autonomous Prefecture (chaoxianzu zizhizhou), is often portrayed as a temporally displaced site registering belated modernity (Rhee, 2017). This study uses Yanbian as method to consider a mode of inter-Asian filmmaking that critiques and contests such blockbuster imaginaries. Specifically, I look at independent first-person documentary Indelible (Chisuji, 2020) by Ryuichi Tsunoda (b. 1993) and experimental short Girl from Yanbian (Enpen shōjo, 2020) by Hong Wang, which have interwoven with the filmmaker’s own diasporic trajectory connecting between Yanbian, Seoul, and other Asian locales such as Tsunoda and Wang’s second-home country Japan (Tokyo). If attachment could be grasped as an affective infrastructure that is productive of a dwelling place (Ahmed, 2014), I leverage the idea of dis-attachment to examine how both young filmmakers leverage Yanbian to configure a conflicting site for departure/return as well as tension-filled self-discovery about their own national/gender identities.