This research programme will explore the field of South and South-East Asia documentary film (including Hong Kong/Macau) as a historical and contemporary phenomenon. This area is currently significantly under-researched, and it is hoped that this research programme will make a contribution to the advancement of academic knowledge in this field. The research programme will involve academics and film-makers in the Asian region and beyond, and will also serve the important function of drawing together all major academic figures and practitioners associated with the study and practice of documentary film in the South and South-East Asian region. It is intended that this research programme will create and foster a forum for long-term association and collaboration.

    This research programme will focus upon four main areas and periods:
  1. The British and French colonial documentary film in South and South-East Asia
  2. The British and French late colonial documentary film in South and South-East Asia
  3. The post-colonial documentary film in South and South-East Asia
  4. The Independent Documentary Film in South and South-East Asia

This website and research programme is supported by the Academy of Film, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University; and by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.



  • The documents available for scrutiny on this website have been collected over the course of more than five years. The research was funded by six Hong Kong government grants and various internal HKBU grants, and covers the colonial official film in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya, Malaysia and India. The majority of the documents were written by government officials and deal with the use of the official film in the South and South-East Asia region over the period from 1945 to the 1970s. These documents reveal the process of colonial withdrawal from the region, the project of nation building and the role played by the official film in that. As such, they offer insight into the region at the end of empire and during the first phase of independence. The material has already seen publication in one book, various book chapters and several journal articles, and more are planned, including an edited anthology (Aitken and Deprez, eds) on the colonial film to be published in 2016-17 by Edinburgh University Press, and a research monograph (Aitken), to be published in 2016-17 by Palgrave Macmillan.

    Please retrieve documents by selecting the criteria and/or by doing a search.
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    Documentary Film Reviews

  • These documents provide a working resource for scholars and should be considered as research-based drafts, containing information on and provisional analyses of films and film-related (including contextual) matters. Because of their primary and intermediate status as working instruments, most of them have not been copy-edited to publishable standards.
  • reviews


  • This report attempts to assess the main similarities and differences between documentaries made within and outside Films Division, documentary-based TV programmes, important commercial feature films and art films over the period 1948-1975, in terms of content and form.
  • Final Report - India


  • These interviews were conducted in India and elsewhere in 2015/16 with 25 important Indian documentary film scholars, filmmakers, and professionals involved in the production, distribution and exhibition of documentary films in India. Their first-hand and personal insights provide exclusive and rare oral testimonies on the lesser-known history of the documentary film in India.
  • interview


  • “Berita Singapura” (Singapore News) was produced by Cathay Film Services. In 1960, Cathay Film Services was commissioned to produce a series of films called “Peoples’ Singapore”. These films were overt mouthpiece of the government, and did not attempt to conceal that fact. “Berita Singapura”, started in 1963, was difference from the more propagandist “Peoples’ Singapore”, in Berita Singapura”, government policy and ideology were intentionally obscured by a public-relations strategy aimed at conveying the impression that the “Berita Singapura” films and film-makers were semi-independent of government, and were attempting to deliver a disinterested and impartial account of the condition of Singapore. The principle task was to promote the notion of Singapore as an interracial society, with a hybrid culture, existing within the boundaries of a unitary nation state, which served its various ethnic groups without discrimination.
  • Berita Singapura Report