The 11th Thai Short Film & Video Festival opened on 17th August with The Anthem by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and closed today. Screenings took place at the EGV Grand Discovery cinema in Bangkok.
I went to Spoken Silence yesterday, a themed evening of films about the repressive social and cultural environment following last year's coup. There were twelve films in the programme:
(a transcript of a superficial Windows Live chat, accompanied by off-air coup footage from CNN; directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit)
Silence In D Minor
(filmed through a green tarpaulin which acted as a filter, ending with a CNS announcement inviting youth participation; directed by Chalida Uabumrungjit)
The Duck Empire Strikes Back
(Thaksin's ousting through the metaphor of a rubber duckie; directed by Nutthorn Kangwanklai)
Letter From The Silence
(shots of a letter about a taxi driver who committed suicide in 2006 by driving into a tank; directed by Prap Boonpan)
The Love Culprit
(a story told in voice-over followed by a melodramatic karaoke video featuring tribal dancers; directed by Sanchai Chotirosseranee)
(intercutting between a woman trying to cross the road, another woman exercising, and a boy's physiotherapy; ending with a peaceful anti-coup demonstration; directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong)
(actors filming TV commercials, featuring the over-acting and ridiculous sound effects common to Thai TV; directed by Tanwarin Sukhapisit)
(static shots continually going in and out of focus; directed by Manutsak Dokmai)
When The Movie Listens
(a man sitting and looking into the camera, as if waiting for someone to speak; directed by Tulapop Saenjaroen)
Man With A Video Camera
(a montage of scenes from daily life, including a pro-Thaksin rally, inspired by Dziga Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera; directed by Jakrawal Nilthamrong)
(a young girl answering unheard questions, and boys playing with toy guns; directed by Paisit Punpruksachart)
(a male couple sleeping next to each other, naked; directed by Thunska Pansittivorakul)
The Spoken Silence films were, for the most part, metaphorical rather than overtly political, though several of them included found footage of coup-related events. They were often literally silent (only Fake World featured actual dialogue), even encouraging the audience to provide the soundtrack (The Love Culprit invited us to sing along to the karaoke; When The Movie Listens was an experiment in audience participation, asking us to speak as the actor listened).
Unfortunately, as evidenced by my synopses above - and notwithstanding the Silence theme - not understanding Thai meant that there was a lot I missed out on. My central motivation for attending, however, Thunska's Middle-Earth, was as outstanding as I'd expected: a beautiful, tender, and ultimately playful film. The directors of each film took part in a Q&A session after the screenings.
Some of the titles listed in the official schedule may be incorrect. For example, The Duck Empire Strike Back is probably a misprint of The Duck Empire Strikes Back, and Bangkok Tank is surely a misprint of Bangkok Tanks. Letter From The Silence is listed as Letter From The Silience (and indeed the entire programme is listed as Spoken Silience, instead of Spoken Silence); these titles could be puns on 'lie' but are more likely misprints for 'Silence'.