Over at CNN Life, John Patrick Manio reports on an online panel hosted by the Sundance Film Festival Asia titled, “The Future of Southeast Asian Cinema.” Panelists included Filipino filmmaker Mikhail Red, Indonesia filmmaker Timo Tjahjanto, Thai Producer Vanridee Pongsittisak, and Netflix’s Southeast Asian Content Director Malobika Banerji. A lot of the talk seems to have revolved around Netflix’s place in the region as a content distributor, bypassing the theaters and providing a viable means for film industry creatives to get paid for their work and get it seen by people.
Even before the pandemic closed down theaters in the Philippines, a lot of Filipino films struggled to get seen. The cinema owners, often citing the low turnout for certain kinds of films, were generally resistant to showing a lot of our local output. Given that, Netflix does seem like a very attractive means of distribution. But Manio expresses some healthy skepticism:
Manio offers several compelling counterpoints to the general view that the online streaming giant is somehow the solution to the long-standing problems in Filipino film distribution. He rightfully points out that a discussion on the future of Southeast Asian Cinema that centers on the platform seems to exclude a lot of people that actually make films. This point seems crucial: it doesn’t quite seem healthy to have an industry that’s only aiming to get on Netflix.
Read more: How Netflix can help Southeast Asian cinema