This lecture explores two famous characters in Southeast Asian cinema during the Cold War. Malaya’s Jefri Zain and the Philippines’ Agent X-44 are film characters loosely based on Hollywood’s popular James Bond series. But how did Hollywood influence Southeast Asian filmmaking during the Cold War? What do these local spy characters tell us about the way Southeast Asians interpreted the anxieties towards communism within the frame of Cold War politics? Far from being copycats of James Bond, this lecture will address how representations in Hollywood influenced local contexts and culture in Southeast Asia in the making of their own image and roles in the Cold War.
Shadows After Dark: Uncovering Post-Colonial Southeast Asian Cinema is a lecture-film series, conceived with Dr Darlene Machell Espena, that follows a chronological development of Cold War cinema in post-colonial Southeast Asia. Consisting of six parts, this series will attempt to uncover trajectories and examine the visual culture of the period. It is organised from the discussions around the exhibition ‘Who Wants To Remember A War”: War Drawings and Posters from the Dato’ N. Parameswaran Collection.
About the Speaker
Dr Darlene Machell Espena is a Research Fellow at Singapore’s National Institute of Education (NTU). She earned her PhD in Southeast Asian History (2017) and MSc. in Asian Studies (2012) from Nanyang Technological University. Her research includes cinema, culture and politics in Cold War/postcolonial Southeast Asia and political and cultural discourses on Singapore education and economy. She has held teaching positions at De La Salle University and the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.