Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit

A very warm welcome to Berlin-Berlinale 2018 for Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit accompanying his new film Die Tomorrow from 2017, featured this year in Berlinale’s FORUM section. — A lighthearted film essay in variations on the subject of dying. One could say the Buddhist cultural background in Thai culture brings in alternative insights compared to the Western film canon regarding film essays on the same subject.

Filmmaker Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit made extensive use of both sides of the new digital possibilities, both in production and distribution, already with his works ‘36’ (2012); ‘Marry is happy, Marry is happy’ (2013) and ‘The Master’ (2014). At the moment he may be the most important figure in Thai film making to be tracked, so it’s good to have him at Berlinale this year with his new film. Interestingly enough the professional background of Nawapol is script writing (and script healing). In his films he has been so far also reflecting on media and film history as an integral part of his (digitally produced) narrative. ‘36’ was an important number in analogue 35mm photographing; ‘Marry is happy…‘ narrates a true Twitter feed based love story.

A link to the Berlinale info page for Die Tomorrow in English:

photo credit © Very Sad Pictures, from the press kit.

…seen in Chiang Mai, close to the South Gate. Photo © Joachim Polzer

Early phase of electronic mobile pictures, late 1960s. photo credit: contemporary promotion material from SONY.

Anucha Boonyawatana

film director Anucha Boonyawatana, photo credit: Reel Suspects film distribution, press kit

Swiss film academic and film writer Natalie Böhler has published a very insightful text with the German language film magazine Film Bulletin on the role, function and history of “Ghosts in Thai Film” in specific and on ghosts in traditional Thai culture in general. Her analysis is very worth reading, as Natalie has written her doctoral thesis on “Nationalism in Thai Film”, entitled: Made in Thailand: Thainess, Performance and Narration in Contemporary Thai Cinema. She is an academic expert in Thai Film.
Academic webpage of Natalie Böhler:

Unfortunately, her text currently only exists in print form, in German, and is not yet available online, something that needs to be changed at Film Bulletin.

As with Ghosts in Thai Film” Natalie Böhler put her focus on the work body of  Apichatpong Weerasethakul, but also recognized Anucha Boonyawatana as a strong new voice in Thai cinema when dealing with his 2015 Berlinale world premiere “The Blue Hour” (Onthakan), Panorama section.

“The Blue Hour” is available on DVD in a German subtitled version
or with English subtitles in the international DVD version from Strand Releasing.

Godfrey Cheshire on “The Blue Hour” at
Boyd van Hoeij for Hollywood Reporter:

Natalie Böhler’s text also refers to the 2013 Blockbuster success “Pee Mak” from film director Banjong Pisanthanakun, when ghosts are becoming a form of humouresque and subversive ciriticism, both on society and outlived narration forms.

Chiang Rai, White Temple, ghosts on both sides. photo credit: © Joachim Polzer
an early mobile video recordist, promotional still.



Sompot Chidgasornpongse

Sompot Chidgasornpongse at Berlinale 2017 in Berlin.
Sompot Chidgasornpongse visiting Berlinale 2017 in Berlin.
Photo credit © Joachim Polzer.

A very warm welcome to visiting film director Sompot Chidgasornpongse accompanying the Berlinale 2017 presentation of his documentary feature film Railway Sleepers (Mon Rot Fai). It was a great pleasure to have met him and his production manager Kissada Kamyoung yesterday at Hackescher Hof in Berlin-Mitte to exchange ideas and updates – 101, in person – also regarding the The Filmschool Project SEA. Sompot’s and Kissada’s insights on film education in Thailand have been very felicitous. As a graduate from Chulalongkorn University himself, Sompot recommended to consider contacting his alma mater, too. Beside Thammasat University both film professionals recommended Mahidol’s international departments and Rangsit University as possible partners in terms of academic institutions for our Filmschool Project SEA.

Sompot Chidgasornpongse’s new film Railway Sleepers (Mon Rot Fai) will have its Berlinale premiere in Forum section on February 15th with reruns on Feb. 16th, 17th and 18th, this year as Berlinale’s sole chosen entry from Thailand.

As an introductionary quote, his Director’s statement on his new work:

Thailand was introduced to trains in 1890 during the reign of King Rama the 5th. It was once the sign of modernity. However, the Thai train failed to improve for many decades. From the colonial era on, it became a vehicle frozen in time.

Trains have always been my favorite form of transportation. To me, it is a mobile replica of life itself.
It brings strangers together. We cross paths as we move ahead in similar directions but with different destinations. The train is also embedded with a history that reflects the development of my country. “Railway Sleepers” invites the audience to take a journey along the edge of modernity and nostalgia.

The synopsis of Railway Sleepers (Mon Rot Fai):

“Railway Sleepers” explores the close connection between Thai people and Thai railway, a celebration and record of what it is like to live in Thailand today. Through various activities and scenes inside and outside the moving vehicles, the film turns the train into the microcosm of life in Thailand during this changing time.

With mundane talk, onboard walks, outward gazes, exchanged glances, sitting, and sleeping, the film takes the audience to experience a 2-day, 2-night trip from the north to the south. As the vehicle’s rhythm synchronizes with the mechanism of a movie camera, the long history of the Thai train is encapsulated in this moving entity, while we become passengers of light.

Poster "Railway Sleepers"

Germans as we are, are also getting new insights in what is called in German “Eisenbahn Romantik”, a hint towards SWR.

More on Railway Sleepers (Mon Rot Fai) in a later posting.


Berlinale film info:

Director’s interview and background production notes from FORUM documentation:


Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, 2015, photo credit © Joachim Polzer


Todd-AO Kamera
Todd-AO film camera on a tripod dolly. 
Photo credit: contemporary press promotion picture