This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
2019 was the year we really put our collective force together to celebrate Asia. Our offices in Indonesia, Australia, India, Japan, and China have been producing amazing work for years, but naming yourself VICE Asia – after a whole entire continent – means actually getting out there and uncovering new and interesting stories in the rest of the region.
In 2019, VICE video teams hit the ground in Japan, Singapore, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, and South Korea. We met some amazing people, slept on a lot of airport floors, and spent countless hours on the road and in the air to bring you a deep and exciting look at the voices, issues, and artists defining Asia today.
It was a busy year and we have so much more exciting stuff planned for 2020 that we can't wait to show you all.
But first, 2019. Here's a look at some of our best documentaries from this year:
Hip-hop is clearly having a moment in Asia, and we were right there at the heart of some of Asia's most-exciting movements to profile the artists whose songs were on heavy rotation at our offices through our series VICE Raps.
Our Australia team produced this stunningly energetic doc about OneFour, a drill crew redefining the sound of Sydney's Western suburbs. It's an exciting, confident, and personal look at the rappers bringing international attention to one of Sydney's most misunderstood places.
Our Asia team also met with two teenaged rappers who aren't just rising out of Bangkok's most-notorious slum—they're bringing the entire slum up with them. 19Tyger and Elevenfinger are making waves in Thailand's hip-hop scene with an unshakeable sense of hometown pride for a place long cast as a world of crime, drugs, and generational poverty.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, we tackled some pretty serious topics. Reports of an alleged cover-up of a sexual assault by one of the country's most storied universities triggered a nationwide reckoning over attitudes of police, university rectors, and society at large toward the victims of sexual assault.
In this, our first editorial partnership with Tirto.com and the Jakarta Post, we investigate how Indonesian universities are more concerned with protecting their own reputations than protecting their students or ensuring that their campuses are free of sexual predators. This video is an in-depth look at a serious problem affecting us all, one that shines a spotlight on the ways institutions are standing in the way of accountability and justice.
Also in Indonesia, this time from North Sulawesi province, we chased down the cultural roots of the country's most-controversial meats—bushmeat. In Minahasa, dogs, cats, snakes, rats, and bats are routinely eaten as vital ingredients in local cuisines. We visited a bushmeat market, went on a rat hunt, had our hearts broken by the death of some dogs, and learned just how important food is to culture, identity, and heritage.
We also made our way to neighbouring Timor-Leste—a country once ruled by Indonesia before attaining independence a short 17 years ago. Here, we focused on a thriving LGBTQ community.
Our doc was a look at how the LGBTQ community can push past religious conservatism and controversy to attain equal rights in a part of the world where those same rights are increasingly under attack.
Speaking of harsh laws... over in Singapore, vandals and graffiti artists who are caught illegally tagging a wall in the city-state not only face harsh fines and jail time, but also the lash of a rattan cane. But that doesn't mean Singapore doesn't have a growing and skilled street art scene. In this doc, we meet some of the "legal" street artists decorating the city's walls with stunning, nostalgic, and thought-provoking art.
We also did some in-depth reporting in India. In We visited the Indian town of Malda, on the border of West Bengal, where young girls are denied education and forced into marriages. In this episode of Roadblock, our VICE India team uncovered the complex issues fuelling this problem and met some of the people trying to secure schools, not weddings, for young girls.
To watch all of these click on our Best of 2019 playlist below: