With the start of the new year it is also the start of a new decade. So what is a better time to look back on the past decade? The two main programmers of CinemAsia, Sietz van der Aa and Hugo Emmerzael, composed both a personal top list of Asian movies. Let’s give a short introduction to them and enjoy their lists. Do you agree with the movies or do you have a suggestion? Let us know in the comments!

Sietz has an MA in Asian Studies from Leiden University and writes about film. After joining CinemAsia in 2015 as a programmer, he’s now serving as the Head of Programming.

Hugo is a film journalist and writes for several magazines about movies and trends in cinema. After several years of experience in programming, this is his first year as a main programmer of the South East Asia region.

Sietz’s Top

* Soul Mate (China/Hong Kong, 2016). Phenomenal debut by director Derek Tsang with the equally impressive Zhou Dongyu. Both talents, nowadays, are definitely indispensable to the Chinese language cinema. (CinemAsia On Tour 2017)

* The World of Us (South Korea, 2016). Beautiful, universal film about child bullying. Amazing performances by the 10-year old lead that for sure breaks everyone’s heart.

* Ilo Ilo (Singapore, 2013). Authentic portrayal of a disrupted family in Singapore’s crisis of the 1990s. Realistic, touching and beautifully shot, ‘Ilo Ilo’ is a true Singaporean classic. (Anthony Chen, CinemAsia Jury Member 2019)

* Parasite (South Korea, 2019). Bong Joon-ho’s genre blending instant classic that took the world by storm, supported by being the first ever Korean Palme d’Or winner.

Hugo’s Top

* Right Now, Wrong Then (South Korea, 2015) Sang-soo Hong has been one of the most prolific and significant voices in contemporary South-Korean cinema and this one might be one of his crowning achievements, an evocative story of chance encounters, told in a formally daring and incredibly rewarding manner.

* Mountains May Depart (China, 2015) Chinese director Jia Zhangke followed up on the sprawling wuxia violence of A Touch of Sin (2013) with a soaring love story told in three parts that touches upon central conflicts of living in a 21st century globalized society. It’s a bold film with, indeed, many narrative departures that still never strays from its central themes of belonging, alienation and diaspora.

* Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand, 2010) Surely a formative film for many budding cinephiles that have fallen in love with the mysterious qualities of slow cinema, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has crafted an unique and dreamlike world that reflects on death and passing time like no other film has done before. A deserved winner of the 2010 Palme d’Or at the Cannes FIlm Festival.

* Stray Dogs (Taiwan, 2013) As Taiwanese director and artist Tsai Ming-liang is straying further away from conventional film making, memories of his 2013 masterpiece grow fonder. Stray Dogs is a highly melancholic but utterly unsentimental film that touches upon the core of the human experience. Through extremely realistic and yet dreamlike staging, it visualizes a terrifying kind of stasis for the less fortunate citizens of Taipei.

* The Assassin (China, 2015) Because of its dense plot and elusive narrative Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s long expected historical wuxia was a disappointment for many. But for those who were seduced by its tactile qualities and poetic imaginaries it became a highly rewatchable and incredibly compelling genre film that keeps getting better with each passing year.

What were your favourite Asian films of the past decade? Comment below