SEASSI 2008 Film Series

I, They and We


Moving away from family often means independence and more freedom to many adolescents, not only because we are leaving family and home but also the memories that we once shared with our family. In the following 8 weeks, we are going to meet many people in Southeast Asia who set out on a journey to a new world to seek opportunities, adventures, dreams and freedom outside of their famiies. Their journeys end in the place where "I" and "they" meet to become "we." We are family, where our hearts rest. Over 8 weeks film journeys from the Philippines to the United States and will discover how “we” are family.


Films will be shown every Tuesday night at 7:00pm in 206 Ingraham Hall, unless otherwise noted. Short discussion will follow each film presentation.


la visa loca

June 17: La Visa Loca (Drama, 2005)

Director: Mark Meily

Language: Tagalog with English subtitle

Run Time: 105 minutes

An ambitious young limousine driver, Jess suffers from a serious case of American Dreaming but is denied the coveted "crazy visa" time and again. He stumbles across an alternate exit plan when one of his regular customers, Nigel Adams, the prominent host of "Planet Strange," a truth-is-weirder-than-fiction television show reminiscent of "Real People," agrees to help Jess secure a nurse's aide job in America. In return, he wants Jess to find a man willing to carry out one of the more extreme Roman Catholic customs practiced during Holy Week in the Philippines: voluntary crucifixion.

June 24: New Year Baby (Documentary, 2006)

Director: Socheata Poeuv

Language: Khmer and English

Run Time: 80 minutes

Born in a Cambodia refugee camp and raised with her family in Texas, Socheata Poeuv learns the real story of her parent’s survival and of her own heritage: her sisters are really cousins, adopted after her aunt was killed by the Khmer Rouge, and her brother is the son of her mother’s never-mentioned first husband. The family returns to Cambodia in a journey that is remarkably engaging, thanks to Socheata’s onscreen appeal and her dedication to allowing her parents to gradually re-enter that time of their lives that was so harrowing.

*Note: Films will be shown Tuesday night at 6:00pm in 22 Ingraham Hall. Discussion with the director, Socheata Poeuv will follow the film presentation.


July 1: Fun Bar Karaoke (Crazy Dream Karaoke, Drama, 1997)

Director: Pen-ek Ratanaruang

Language: Thai with English subtitle

Run Time: 103 minutes

Pu is a young woman who is having some bad dreams. Her father, meanwhile, has fallen in love with a karaoke bar hostess girl named Yok who's the girlfriend of a mobster. A hitman named Noi is then dispatched to kill the father, and Pu ends up falling in love with Noi.

Fun Bar Karaoke examines the undercurrent of magic that runs through the isolation of city life. A young girl fears for her playboy father's safety. A hitman dreams of going to the U.S. A dead mother portends a tragic event. Desperate story elements are woven together in a picture that, despite being set in the banal modern metropolis of Bangkok, is surreal and bursting with energy.



July 8: Journey from the Fall (Drama, 2006)

Director: Ham Tran

Language: Vietnamese with English subtitle

Run Time: 135 minutes

The movie traces the story of a family's struggle for survival in the aftermath of the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975 to North Vietnam's Communist regime. After her husband, Long, is imprisoned in a reeducation camp, Mai, her son Lai and her mother-in-law escape Vietnam by boat in the hopes of starting a new life in Southern California. Believing his family dead, Long gives up in the face of brutal conditions, while Mai struggles to keep her family from crumbling under the pressures of life in a new country. When Long learns his family is alive in America, he is reinvigorated and decides he must join them at any cost.


eliana eliana

July 15: Eliana Eliana (Drama, 2002)

Director: Riri Riza

Language: Indonesian with English subtitle

Run Time: 105 minutes

A mother and daughter, who have not seen each other for five years, are forced to spend a night together in a taxi in Jakarta. Eliana, who works in a Jakarta department store, left her village, Padang, to avoid an arranged marriage. Her mother came to Jakarta to take her daughter back to home and happened to follow Eliana’s long night crisscrossing Jakarta in a taxi. (more info:


July 22: Mystic Ball (Documentary, 2006)

Director: Greg Hamilton

Language: Burmese and English

Run Time: 83 minutes

Mystic Ball follows Greg Hamilton, the filmmaker, deep into the ancient and little-known culture of Myanmar and its traditional sport, chinlone. Like the film, chinlone is hard to define. It's a team sport without an opposing team, part dance, part meditation. There is no competition, no winners and no losers. The film follows Greg's transformation from outsider obsessed with learning chinlone to accomplished teammate of the masters of the game. But sport is only one aspect of his journey. Through chinlone, Greg discovers things he didn't even know he was looking for: family, community and love.

July 29: Nerakhoon (The Betrayal, Documentary, 2008) (tentative)
Director: Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
Language: Lao and English
Run Time: 87 minutes

Filmed over the course of 23 years, Nerakhoon is the story of a family’s epic journey from war-torn Laos to the mean streets of New York. Thavisouk Phrasavath tells his own story of struggling as a young man to survive both the war and the hardships of immigrant life, as well as his mother’s astonishing tale of perseverance.

August 5: Tou and Mai (Drama, 2006)

Director: Kang Vang

Language: Hmong with English subtitle

Run Time:

tou and mai

The film tells the story about a rascal named Tou who is given one last chance to prove himself as a responsible and respectable man when his uncle offers him a job as a tutor for new refugee arrivals. Through his new job, Tou meets Mai who recently arrived from the Wat Thom Krabok camp.

(more info:


- SEASSI 2007 Film Series
- SEASSI 2005 Film Series




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Contact Us!
Please direct any questions to the SEASSI Program Coordinator:

Jinda Moore
Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
207 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
phone: (608) 263-1755 email: