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By: Arika Kim
This International Women’s Day, we’re honouring 10 incredibly creative female filmmakers and photographers who are all leading the charge in doing groundbreaking work — serving as inspiration for fellow female creatives around the world.
From photographing marginalized communities to directing films that touch on sensitive subject matters, this influential collective of women in Southeast Asia has all pushed boundaries in some form or way. Through Instagram, these women share more of their life and provide everyone with a more in-depth look into their upcoming projects.
1. Chayanee Chomsaengchun, (@peduckk)
Chomsaengchun’s Instagram grid offers major solace in a world where leisure travel is but a pipe dream.
While she might throw in an occasional product shot from campaigns she’s done, Chomsaengchun’s grid generally features images of the most gorgeous and dreamiest beaches in Asia. Trust us when we say that her photos will make you want to pack your bags and book yourself a nice holiday stat!
It’s no wonder Thai luxury resort Sri Panwa has tapped her as its official photographer.
2. Tan Chui Mui, (@tanchuimui)
For the uninitiated, Tan is a Malaysian filmmaker whose feature debut, Love Conquers All, won a Tiger Award from the 36th International Film Festival Rotterdam.
A huge supporter and advocate for Malaysia’s independent film scene, Tan started her own production company with fellow independent film directors Amir Muhammad, James Lee, and Liew Seng Tat, a huge supporter and advocate for Malaysia’s independent film scene.
Much like her directorial debut, Tan’s Instagram account gives a raw and unfiltered glimpse into her life as a mum. Despite the sporadic nature of each post, each caption and photo is carefully thought out.
3. Yu Yu Myint Than, (@yuyumt_burma)
An award-winning documentary photographer, Yu Yu’s work highlights women and religious issues. Her most prolific work to date focused on San Kay Khine, a 17-year-old girl who was kidnapped and tortured for five years while being held in a tailor shop in Yangon.
On Instagram, Yu Yu shows off her analog skills with her beautifully composed film photos, proving once again that #FilmIsNotDead. We’re not entirely sure if she processes the images herself, but we’re loving the results and the rawness of each photograph.
Yu Yu is also part of Thuma Collective, an all-female photography club in Myanmar that aims to inspire and encourage fellow female photographers in Myanmar.
4. Amanda Nell Eu, (@nelleu)
A self-professed “filmmaker cat lady,” Nell Eu’s Instagram is consistently updated with photographs of her two furkids, Edie and Kupo. She’s also got a wicked sense of humour and isn’t afraid to look a little silly — which makes following her an absolute joy.
The Malaysian filmmaker rose to fame when her short film, Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu, was shortlisted for the Orizzonti Short Films Competition at the Venice International Film Festival. Nell Eu’s work has also been shown at various film festivals around the world.
5. Wong Maye-E, (@w0ngmayee)
A former Straits Times photojournalist, Wong eventually became The Associated Press’s lead photographer for North Korea in 2014. Through her work, Wong gave us a glimpse into what living in the hermit kingdom is like.
Currently, Wong resides in New York with her family. Her Instagram feed proved particularly interesting at the time of the U.S. elections and during the Capitol insurrection. While these seem like heavy topics, it also helps that Wong has an adorable puppy named Kaya, who we get to see every once in a while.
6. Maika Elan, (@maikaelan)
Originally an editorial and fashion photographer, Elan moved on to documentary photography. Her most notable work, The Pink Choice, shed light on the lives of LGBTQ couples in Vietnam. The Pink Choice went on to win several photography awards in Asia.
Often captionless, Elan’s photos on Instagram show daily life in Vietnam. Most of her images are shot in natural sunlight and with minimal editing, which gives it a lovely charm of its own. We especially love the dreaminess of specific pictures and how she showcases different perspectives.
7. Nia Dinata, (@ibunia)
Considered one of the most controversial filmmakers in Indonesia, Dinata’s Instagram is surprisingly tame. Scattered throughout her feed are travel photos, film inspiration and an authentic look into her life in Indonesia. Her thoughtful and insightful captions further add to the appeal of each photograph.
Dinata’s films explore topics such as homosexuality, relationships and polygamy and is said to face heavy censorship from the Indonesian government. Two of the films she’s directed have also been submitted to the Academy Awards for the best foreign-language film categories.
8. Sandi Tan, (@_sanditan_)
An accomplished film critic, director, and writer, Tan’s Instagram feed is nothing short of interesting and artsy. She frequently switches between posting content of her cat, her favourite paintings, and films she loves.
Tan’s short films, Moveable Feast and Gourmet Baby, have seen significant plays at various international film festivals, including the New York Film Festival. It’s no wonder then that Variety magazine named Tan one of its 10 documentary filmmakers to watch in 2018.
9. Lyka Gonzalez, (@lykagonzalez)
Gonzalez is a filmmaker and photographer from the Philippines whose most notable work, Agos: the Manila Dream, premiered at the 68th Festival De Cannes. Gonzalez is also a UN Youth Representative and uses her platform to advocate for gender equality, women’s rights, and migration.
On Instagram, Gonzalez frequently shares beautiful photos of her travels and personal anecdotes of her life. We especially love her portrait photography.
10. Datin Tiara Jacquelina
Actress, director, and entrepreneur, Malaysia
Jacquelina rose to fame for playing the lead character in one of Malaysia’s biggest films, Puteri Gunung Ledang.
Besides acting, Jacquelina is also the managing director of Enfiniti Vision Media, a production company championing Malaysian arts, entertainment, and television.
On Instagram, the talented actress and director shares snippets of her life with family, friends, and the work she’s up to. It also helps that she’s consistently posting photos of her 12 pets — including her pet horse!
Sim is a Singaporean photographer who splits her time between Beijing, London, and Singapore.
Sim started her journey as a journalist with The Straits Times before eventually being a photojournalist for various publications, including The New York Times.
An accomplished photographer, Sim was commissioned as the Nobel Peace Prize’s photographer in 2017 for its International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Sim’s photos were exhibited at the Nobel Peace Center in Norway.
On Instagram, followers get a behind-the-scenes look into her photo exhibitions, personal life, and unreleased photos from her exhibitions.
13. Siti Kamaluddin, (@sitikamaluddin)
The first female director in Brunei, Kamaluddin, made Brunei’s first international feature film, Yasmine. This is a huge feat, considering how Brunei doesn’t actually have a thriving film industry or an association for filmmakers.
Following Kamaluddin on Instagram, we get a peek into life in Brunei and some of the projects she’s currently working on.
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