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The 15 Best Asian Documentaries of 2020

2020 has been a particular good year for documentaries all over the world, as the international political situation along with the pandemic have presented much material for some films. Furthermore, the pandemic also prevented the shooting and essentially, circulation of feature movies to a large degree, giving much space to documentaries to shine much more than usual. Asian cinema responded to the challenge through a number of excellent productions, 15 of which we include here.

Without further ado, here are the best Asian documentaries of 2020, in reverse order. Some films may have premiered in 2019, but since they mostly circulated in 2020, we decided to include them.

*By clicking on the title, you can read the full review of the film

15. Long Period of Persecution (Proshoon Rahman, Bangladesh)

directs a very thorough documentary that focuses exactly on what the title of the film says. His effort to highlight the history of the Rohingyas, both political and ethnical and the events that led them to this situation is more than successful, particularly because it highlights the fact that there is no exact reason for this, apart from, maybe, racism. The interviews with the leaders of the refugees and “simple” Rohingya shed light to the case on a personal level, with the scenes where a number of them show the wounds that they carry from the attacks of the Myanmar army being one of the most shocking parts of the documentary. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

14. Hong Kong Moments (Zhou Bing, Hong Kong)

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Each person states his or her vision of democracy, of a peaceful life within the city, but at the same time the unwillingness to make a compromise or the scars left behind after an attack will likely drive people even further away. In the end, “” is an informative and provocative documentary based on the protests against the Extradition Bill, but emphasizing how the roots of the escalation point at a much deeper problem, one which will likely define society and that will need to be addressed. (Rouven Linnarz)

13. Coronation (Ai Weiwei, China)

” is a powerful documentary by about the coronavirus outbreak, the lockdown and its consequences. It is not an easy film to watch, but one which puts the finger on a pressing issue which will linger with us all when the virus itself is long gone. (Rouven Linnarz)

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12. Asho (Jafar Najafi, Iran)

The most obvious trait of “” is that the film is hilarious. The fact that the boy already conducts himself like a superstar, the insults to the director, and that the two children, in essence, act like grown up husband and wife (whining, jealousy and fighting included) are bound to make the viewer laugh. Furthermore, Asho is a definite star in the making, with his attitude in front of the camera being one of a distinct show-off, and not bound by any kind of shyness. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

11. Angry Folks (Aung Htet Myet, Burma)

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” is a documentary about the power of music in tackling social and political issue. and the musicians present choose the right side as a means to strengthen the community of people, to fight against those injustices in the world. It is an important message and one which shines through every moment of this documentary. (Rouven Linnarz)

10. Aswang (Alyx Ayn Arumpac, Philippines)

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” is a documentary about the drug war in the Philippines, the cycle of violence, misery and sorrow it has created. shows a city defined by an endless night and a vague fear which has numbed people and the wider public, making it impossible to see the wider context of the events. (Rouven Linnarz)

9. Me and the Cult Leader (Atsushi Sakahara)

” may be a bit too long, but it is brutally sincere, interesting, dramatic, shocking, and sheds much light to a case, an organization and two radically opposite men, while providing food for much thought. Overall, an excellent documentary. (Panos kotzathanasis)

8. Zero (Kazuhiro Soda)

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Technically seen, knows exactly what he's doing. His presence is left noticed by interfering with the film's flow – whether through the small-talk to teenagers on the street who think they are being filmed for a popular TV show, or by letting his voice dominate the q&a in the second half of the film, digging for the personal information about Dr. Yamamoto. (Marina D. Richter)

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