News and Reviews
Educating About Asia Through Film    


 Summer 2011    

Issue: #41      


Editor's note: With this issue, News and Reviews resumes quarterly publication.    

In This Issue
Film Review: The Fall of Womenland
Film Review: Shugendō Now
News from the Field
AsiaLENS Series
News and Reviews Archive
About AEMS

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The Fall of Womenland

The Fall of Womenland   

Directed by Xiaodan He. 2009. 46 minutes.

Reviewed by Tami Blumenfield

The Fall of Womenland
is a fascinating documentary that takes the rather large field of films about the Moso people of China in a somewhat different direction than one might expect. Created by He Xiaodan, a filmmaker of Naxi ethnicity in Yunnan Province, The Fall of Womenland was partially funded by the National Geographic's All Roads Film Project.  The film uses first-person narration to give the viewer an intimate look at southwest China's Moso villages (the Moso are related to the Naxi but somewhat different culturally)-perhaps too intimate at times, as I discuss below. On a technical level, the careful crafting of storyline, sound, and visuals is clear, with the excellent cinematography by Martin Doepner making the documentary aesthetically pleasing.


Shugendō Now

Shugendō  Now 


Directed by Jean-Marc Abela and Mark McGuire. 2009. 90 minutes.

Reviewed by Kevin Taylor 

Shugendō Now is a documentary that walks the line between illustrating transcendent spiritual practice and the everyday "world of desires and illusions." It is clear from the very beginning that nature holds a prominent role in the film. The film follows a pilgrimage of lay practitioners mostly from the urban environments of Tokyo and Osaka. Guided by Tanaka Riten from Kimpusen-ji temple, the pilgrims, in a practice called the Lotus Ascent,  ascend Mt. Ōmine, one of Japan's sacred mountains. Commenting on the effort to invite more people to practice shugyō (ascetic practice), the the Shugendo priest observes "that with the increase in participation by everyday people, we've seen a decline in participation by more seasoned ascetic practitioners." As the film follows the pilgrimage we are given glimpse into the private lives of both lay people and mountain ascetics.


News from the Field

At this year's joint AAS/ICAS annual meeting (March30-April3), AEMS was asked to organize the three-days of video screenings that are normally a part of the conference.  AAS kindly provided us with a proper theater at the Hawaii Convention Center, where the meetings were held, and an excellent tech support team, and the Henry Luce Foundation graciously supported the effort for the first time.  Our mandate was to curate the exhibition, which we entitled "Film Expo 2011: Seeing Asia Eye to Eye."  AEMS  call for submissions yielded 95 films, from which we selected 29 for showing.  In addition, AEMS sponsored a roundtable discussion with eight of the scholar-filmmakers whose works were presented.

CLICK HERE for a complete listing of films 


Who Killed Chea Vichea?AsiaLENS
Documentary Film Screenings

AsiaLENS is a series of free public film screenings and lecture / discussion programs -- organized by AEMS in collaboration with the Spurlock Museum -- presenting recent documentary films on issues reflecting contemporary life in Asia.

AsiaLENS Fall 2011 Calendar:


Though I Am Gone (Hu Jie, 2006, 62 min.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 7:00pm
Bhutan: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness (Tom Vendetti, 2007, 56 min.)
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 7:00pm

Who Killed Chea Vichea? (Bradley Cox, 2010, 56 min.)
Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 7:00pm

CLICK HERE for more info on AsiaLENS

News and Reviews
Previous issues of News and Reviews:

Electronic newsletters - September 2010 - April 2011

Archived print newsletters - Spring 1998 - Fall 2009

About AEMS
Media Production Group
In addition to hosting film screenings, AEMS also produces and distributes its own materials under the brand name Media Production Group (MPG) .  These are short educational videos and DVDs about an aspect of Asian culture suitable for classroom use and accompanied by curriculum.  MPG titles. 

AEMS maintains a searchable database of over 6,000 films about Asia, including length, format, distributor and synopsis.  search the database

AEMS library, through its connection to the Lincoln Trails library system, circulates videos and DVDs locally from its collection of more than 2,000.  view

Asian Educational Media Service
805 W Pennsylvania Ave., Urbana, IL 61801