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‘Midnight Asia: Eat. Dance. Dream.’ Offers a Glimpse Into the Hidden, Nocturnal Worlds of Its Megacities

‘Midnight Asia: Eat. Dance. Dream.’ Offers a Glimpse Into the Hidden, Nocturnal Worlds of Its Megacities

For those of us who live in Asia, we know that the cities never sleep. Our new documentary, Midnight Asia: Eat. Dance. Dream., shows this side of the megacities, telling stories of their people after the sun goes down.

We meet 85-year-old DJ Sumirock who runs a noodle shop by day and spins tunes on Tokyo dance floors at night; spend time with two brothers who’ve revolutionized night folk theatre with superhero characters in Bangkok; gain a window into Taipei’s vibrant LGBTQ culture at a drag king performance; meet a brewer reinventing traditional rice wine in Seoul; and discover the best-kept after-dark culinary secrets. 

The show not only acts as a guide to these nocturnal worlds, but also provides a riveting look into stories of chasing dreams, unconventional passions or a drive to express individualism in a city teeming with millions. The six episodes celebrate the iconic cities of Manila, Bangkok, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, and Mumbai in a fresh way, shedding light on hidden gems, vibrant subcultures and captivating characters — all of whom are night owls. In doing so, it provides an alternative night-time guide to some of the most dynamic people and places in town.

Ami Shroff, one of India's first female bartenders, turns the mixing of drinks into performing art.

Importantly, Midnight Asia is also a wonderful addition to our growing slate of Asian documentaries, which have been attracting global attention. Last month, Hope Frozen won Thailand’s first international Emmy while House of Secrets from India has been on the Top 10 list in 12 countries since launching on 8 October. We’ve seen that if we tell these stories in a captivating and cinematic way, these documentaries can travel far. The popularity of other documentaries from the region such as Blackpink: Light Up The Sky, Naomi Osaka, The Raincoat Killer and14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible bears this out.

When I started this job, documentaries were seen as relatively niche in Asia. But as with other regions, investing in the genre has seen them reach ever wider audiences, reflecting the incredible diversity of our membership base across 190 countries. Today, our documentaries span topics including sports, music, history, science, crime, biopics, current issues, food, culture, nature and others. The common thread throughout? Compelling stories that resonate with our members.

Discover after-dark culinary secrets in 'Midnight Asia'.

We are committed not only to find and tell diverse stories, but also to find new and emerging voices to tell them. In Asia, where the documentary ecosystem is relatively more nascent than other genres, we invest a lot of time in having conversations with new filmmakers to find out the stories they are passionate about. When we discover directors or producers with great talent, and ideas that will resonate, we want to set them up for success and provide them with a global platform to share their unique narratives.

The stories in Midnight Asia are tucked away in hidden corners of each city, and only creators with a rich understanding of their countries will be able to bring such impactful stories to light. At Netflix, our aim is to empower them to take these stories to the world.

Midnight Asia: Eat. Dance. Dream. will air 20 January, 2022.