Generally speaking, indie films in Asia are characterized by their smaller budget, more artistic or experimental approach, and a focus on local stories and cultures. Commercial films, on the other hand, are typically bigger budget productions that aim to appeal to a wider audience and often feature more mainstream genres and storytelling styles.
In many Asian countries, the film industry is dominated by commercial productions, with fewer opportunities and resources available for independent filmmakers. However, there are also vibrant indie film scenes in many cities, particularly in countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, and India, where there is a long history of artistic and experimental cinema.
One notable difference between indie and commercial films in Asia is their distribution and exhibition. While commercial films typically receive widespread theatrical releases and marketing campaigns, indie films often struggle to find a platform for distribution beyond film festivals and smaller art-house theaters. As a result, they may have a smaller audience but also enjoy more critical acclaim and recognition within the film community.
Overall, the distinction between indie and commercial films in Asia is not always clear-cut, and many filmmakers work across both spheres. However, indie films offer a valuable alternative to the dominant commercial cinema, providing opportunities for experimentation, artistic expression, and the exploration of local cultures and identities.
Here are notable indie films from Asia, with year and it’s director.
- “Memories of Matsuko” (2006) – a Japanese film directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, about the life of a woman named Matsuko who goes from being a teacher to a hostess, and then to a homeless person.
- “The Host” (2006) – a South Korean monster film directed by Bong Joon-ho, about a family’s attempt to rescue their daughter from a monster that emerges from the Han River.
- “In the Mood for Love” (2000) – a Hong Kong romantic drama directed by Wong Kar-wai, about two neighbors who develop a close relationship while their spouses are having an affair.
- “Lagaan” (2001) – an Indian epic sports drama directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, about a group of villagers who challenge British rule by playing a cricket match against their oppressors.
- “Kaili Blues” (2015) – a Chinese film directed by Bi Gan, about a doctor in a remote village who embarks on a journey to find his nephew.
These films showcase a diverse range of storytelling styles, themes, and genres, and demonstrate the creativity and innovation of indie filmmakers in Asia.
Here are notable commercial films from Asia with it’s year and storyline.
- “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000) – a martial arts film from Taiwan directed by Ang Lee, about a warrior who seeks to recover a stolen sword.
- “Dangal” (2016) – an Indian sports drama directed by Nitesh Tiwari, about a former wrestler who trains his daughters to become world-class wrestlers.
- “Train to Busan” (2016) – a South Korean horror film directed by Yeon Sang-ho, about a group of passengers on a train that is overrun by zombies.
- “Weathering with You” (2019) – a Japanese animated romantic fantasy film directed by Makoto Shinkai, about a high school boy who befriends a girl who has the ability to control the weather.
- “The Mermaid” (2016) – a Chinese comedy directed by Stephen Chow, about a mermaid who falls in love with a businessman and tries to stop his plan to destroy her habitat.
These films showcase the commercial success and widespread appeal of Asian cinema, with many of them breaking box office records and receiving critical acclaim both domestically and internationally. They also demonstrate the diversity and innovation of storytelling in Asian cinema, spanning genres from martial arts and horror to romance and comedy.