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:
Link: http://www.film.uzh.ch/de/team/postdocs/boehler.html

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.
Link: http://www.filmbulletin.ch/full/artikel/2017-3-13_zwischenwelten-als-spiegel-des-lebens/

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.
Link: https://www.berlinale.de/external/de/filmarchiv/doku_pdf/201508697.pdf

“The Blue Hour” is available on DVD in a German subtitled version
Link: https://www.amazon.de/Blue-Hour-OmU-Atthaphan-Poonsawas/dp/B01MDTVTIU/
or with English subtitles in the international DVD version from Strand Releasing.

Reviews:
Godfrey Cheshire on “The Blue Hour” at RogerEbert.com
Link: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-blue-hour-2016
Boyd van Hoeij for Hollywood Reporter:
Link: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/blue-hour-onthakan-berlin-review-773802

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.

Website: http://www.atatimepictures.com

Berlinale film info: http://www.berlinale.de/de/programm/berlinale_programm/datenblatt.php?film_id=201716963

Director’s interview and background production notes from FORUM documentation:
http://www.berlinale.de/external/de/filmarchiv/doku_pdf/201716963_de.pdf


 

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