“Only Capitalism at Home?”: Cultural Production, Biopolitics, and the Global City in Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo
Through a case study of the award-winning Singaporean film Ilo Ilo released in 2013, this paper aims to explore the challenges and possibilities of cultural production the Singaporean film industry is faced with and the biopolitical structure and its impact that are plaguing a global city such as Singapore. In this regard, the main focus of the paper is twofold. The first part of the paper addresses the problems of dehumanization in a global city under the domination of the capitalist-based biopower, as implicated in the film. Taken in this manner, this film, in a unique way, can be viewed as an intentional gesture of redeeming humanity that is in constant jeopardy of the capitalist-based biopower and yet at the same time it unintentionally exposes the latent horror of bare life in the biopolitical structure of a global city. The second part dwells upon director Anthony Chen’s view of “The Return of Asian Movies” and the meaning of his own cinematic practice. In showing both the dialogic and dialectic relation between how Chen tries to win the favor of the international film festival jury and what he as an Asian film maker would and could want to present through film-making, we would argue that Chen’s film can be taken as a way of self-expression through the frames of the other constituted by films labeled Taiwanese, Sinophone, or Asian.