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Mast-del + An Asian Ghost Story + The Secret Garden


Maryam Tafakory I 2023 I Iran, UK I 17’ I Digital I sound (Farsi text, English subtitles)

‘Two women lie together in bed. As the wind bashes against the window, one recalls a past date to the cinema. The narrated scene cannot be conveyed through images. Layers of found and original footage are superimposed to fill in some of the cracks, the deletions, the limits of representation. A love song that would never pass through the censors, Mast-del is about forbidden bodies and desires, both inside and outside post-revolution Iranian cinema.” (Maryam Tafakory)

九龙东往事 (An Asian Ghost Story)

Bo Wang I 2023 I The Netherlands, Hong Kong I 37’ I Digital I English, Cantonese spoken, English subtitles

Throughout the mid-20th century, Hong Kong was the largest international exporter of human hair, used in hair braiding and making wigs. This new work by Chinese artist, filmmaker and researcher Bo Wang uses the history of this vital export trade as a way to return to his themes of Hong Kong as a liminal space between East and West. The focus of the film rests upon the Cold War period, a moment when the export of “communist” hair was placed under embargo by the US, and when Hong Kong rose to the fore of the Asian hair export trade.

Hair – a bodily artefact that remains after death – is used as a thread to interweave historical connections between migration and diaspora, trade and the colonial legacies of Hong Kong. Documentary material of contemporary Hong Kong is combined with archival and fictive elements that allow for spectral presences to emerge. In voiceover, a woman recounts a story told by a factory worker as she reflects upon the spirits of the dead residing in the hair she is using to make a wig. Hair disturbs the separation between life and death – like ghosts, like Hong Kong itself – an in-between liminal state.

الحديقة السريّة (The Secret Garden)

Nour Ouayda I 2023 I Lebanon, Canada I 27’ I Digital I Arabic spoken, English subtitles

One morning a city awakes to find that mysterious plants, trees and flowers have burst through the built environment and taken over the streets and squares. A fairy tale in 8 chapters unfurls as two friends, Camelia and Nahla, embark on their quest to investigate the origins of these strange new species and a mythological creature believed to be roaming the streets.

Nour Ouayda’s hometown of Beirut acts here as a fantastical backdrop for an unnamed city. Her embodied 16mm camera searches the richly coloured flora emerging from the walls and pavements. Appearing only in moments of myth and legend, these secret gardens have been said to be a place of refuge for political dissidents.

Followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers hosted by Jonathan Ali.