Thursday, 29 March 2018

Cinema: Stanley Kubrick

Cinema: Stanley Kubrick
Cinema: Stanley Kubrick
On Tuesday, an extensive collection of Stanley Kubrick memorabilia was auctioned in Torino, Italy, raising a total of €90,000. In its sale catalogue, the auction house describes the fifty-five lots as "the most important collection of material relating to the life and work of Stanley Kubrick ever offered at auction."

The auction included notes and other documents signed by Kubrick (such as an autographed Christmas card, similar to one I bought in 2006) and props from his later films. All items were given by Kubrick to Emilio D'Alessandro, his personal assistant, whose memoirs have been published in both Italian (Stanley Kubrick e me) and English (Stanley Kubrick and Me).

Bangkok Screening Room

Battleship Potemkin
Insects in the Backyard
Grand Hotel
His Girl Friday
Paris, Texas
Bangkok Screening Room's outstanding programme of classics and Thai indie films continues in April and May, with Battleship Potemkin (Бронено́сец «Потёмкин»); Grand Hotel; His Girl Friday; Paris, Texas; and Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด). Bangkok's repertory cinema scene is going from strength to strength, with Bangkok Screening Room, Cinema Winehouse, Jam Ciné Club, and the Friese-Greene Club joined by the new Cinema Oasis.

Sergei Eisenstein's silent masterpiece Battleship Potemkin will be shown with a soundtrack composed by the Pet Shop Boys on 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 29th April; and 1st, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 15th May. (It has previously been screened with a Thai score, at the Thai Film Archive.)

The previously banned Insects in the Backyard will be screened on 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 25th, 27th, 28th, and 29th April; and 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th May. Director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit will take part in a Q&A on 28th April. When I interviewed her about the ban last year, she said that the censors "regarded this film as immoral, and hazardous to national security." (It has also been shown at the World Film Festival of Bangkok, House Rama, the Eat Play Love Film Festival, Indie in Salaya, and Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University.)

Grand Hotel, in which the iconic Greta Garbo delivers her immortal line "I want to be alone", is showing on 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd, 26th, and 27th May. Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday, the definitive 'screwball' comedy, will be screened on 17th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 26th, 28th, 29th April; and 2nd and 3rd May. Paris, Texas, by Wim Wenders (previously shown at the Thai Film Archive), is on 17th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th April; and 2nd, 4th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th, and 17th May.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Cinema Winehouse

Psycho
Night of the Living Dead
This week, Cinema Winehouse in Bangkok will be showing two of the greatest horror films ever made. Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho will be screened on 29th March, followed by George Romero's zombie classic Night of the Living Dead on 31st March.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Jam Ciné Club

The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Wild Strawberries
Wild Strawberries
Jam Ciné Club will be showing two classics of world cinema in May: Carl Dreyer's silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc) on 16th May, and Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) on 23rd May. The Passion of Joan of Arc will also be shown at the 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand, which runs from 24th to 30th May.

Friday, 23 March 2018

I Am You

I Am You
I Am You
Death for Democracy
Blue October
I Am You (ฉันคือเธอ), featuring artworks spanning Vasan Sitthiket's entire career, opened yesterday at BACC in Bangkok. The retrospective includes paintings, woodcut prints, large-scale installations, and a handful of videos (including There Must Be Something Happen). Some of his sketchbooks are also on show, and they include preparatory sketches for Blue October (ตุลาลัย) from 1978.

In Thailand, discussion of sensitive subjects is usually camouflaged by innuendo, and criticisms are made indirectly, to save face. Vasan, however, pulls no punches. Unusually for an established Thai artist, he is refreshingly blunt in his treatment of politics, sex, and religion. Hypocrisy and Ten Evil Scenes of Thai Politic, for example, portray politicians as corrupt figures succumbing to the sins of lust and greed. In his frequent self-portraits (such as The Human Clay) he is not only nude but also tumescent. Vasan's depiction of monks has also caused controversy: Buddha Returns to Bangkok (พระพุทธเจ้าเสด็จกรุงเทพ 2535) depicted a monk raping a woman, and Obsessive Compulsive included paintings of monks having sex.

I Am You is a major retrospective, with more than 100 artworks, including Death for Democracy 1992 (ตายเพื่อประชาธิปไตย 2535), though Vasan's more controversial pieces are notable by their absence. The bilingual exhibition catalogue, which includes an essay by Iola Lenzi, is accompanied by The Literature Collection of Vasan Sitthiket (รวมวรรณกรรมคัดสรร), a book of Vasan's writings. The exhibition closes on 27th May.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Thai Film Archive

The 400 Blows
The Wages of Fear
The Thai Film Archive in Salaya will show a double bill of 1950s French masterpieces this Sunday. François Truffaut's New Wave classic The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups) will be followed by Henri-Georges Clouzot's suspense thriller The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur). Both screenings are free, and include a discussion with Film Archive director Dome Sukwong.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tonight Thailand

Tonight Thailand
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has ordered the digital television channel Voice TV to suspend broadcasting Tonight Thailand for fifteen days. The NBTC ruled that the programme had violated a ban on criticising the military junta, as it made a comparison to the French Revolution and dwelt on footage of anti-Prayuth Chan-ocha protesters wearing Pinocchio masks. The episode in question was broadcast on 1st March.

The regulator also issued warnings over another Tonight Thailand episode, broadcast on Boxing Day; and a different show, Wake Up Thailand, broadcast on 5th March, in which Piyabutr Saengkanokkul argued that Thais should not accept the country's repeated military takeovers. Voice TV is owned by Panthongthae Shinawatra, son of Thaksin Shinawatra. (Both Thaksin and his sister, Yingluck, were deposed by military coups.)

Another Voice TV programme, The Daily Dose, was suspended last year. A similar channel, Peace TV, was temporarily shut down earlier this year, in 2017, and 2016; its licence was revoked in 2015, though that ruling was later overturned on appeal. When Prayuth (unconstitutionally) declared martial law in 2014, the military closed down ten satellite television stations.

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Monday, 19 March 2018

Cinema Winehouse

Metropolis
Casablanca
City of God
Cinema Winehouse in Bangkok (now under new management) will show three classic films this week. Metropolis and Casablanca will be screened on 22nd March, followed the next day by City of God (Cidade de Deus).

Fariña

Farina
Sales of Fariña have been suspended throughout Spain after a judge in Madrid granted an injunction on behalf of José Alfredo Bea Gondar, a former town mayor. Fariña was published in 2015, and had been the country's best-selling book before the ban was announced last month. The book, by Nacho Carretero, includes evidence that the mayor was involved in the importation of cocaine, a crime he was charged with in 1991. (He was later convicted of drug smuggling, though the verdict was overturned on a technicality.)

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The Documentary
Film Makers Handbook

The Documentary Film Makers Handbook
The Documentary Film Makers Handbook, by Genevieve Jolliffe and Andrew Zinnes, was first published in 2006. It includes interviews with more than a hundred documentary directors, including Thunska Pansittivorakul. Thunska discusses film censorship in Thailand: "Censorship is the order of the day in this society... Everything is seen as morally sensitive, and they prefer to ban, prohibit, cancel, rather than to try to understand the things that are going on."

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Insects in the Backyard

Insects in the Backyard
Insects in the Backyard
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด) will be shown on 16th March at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in Bangkok. The film premiered at the World Film Festival of Bangkok in 2010, and was promptly banned. It was eventually released, with a single cut, late last year, and was shown last month at two events: the Eat Play Love Film Festival and Indie in Salaya.

ภาพยนตรานุกรมแห่งชาติ ฉบับที่ ๑

Thai Film Archive
The Thai Film Archive published the first volume of its national filmography in 2014, in an edition of 1,000 copies. (The second volume was completed this year.) ภาพยนตรานุกรมแห่งชาติ ฉบับที่ ๑ พ.ศ. ๒๔๗๐-๒๔๙๙ features credits and plot synopses for every Thai film produced between 1927 and 1956, beginning with the country's first feature film, Double Luck. More than 500 movies are included, though only 2% of those films (including The King of the White Elephant, restored by the Archive) survive today. One of the lost films, Criminal Without Sin (สุภาพบุรุษเสือไทย), revived the Thai film industry after World War II and led to twenty years of predominantly silent, 16mm film production.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Ghostly Desires

Ghostly Desires
In Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema, published in 2016, Arnika Fuhrmann provides detailed analysis of selected Thai films in terms of "Buddhist sexual contemporaneity, a conception in which sexuality is not solely a matter of citizenship and rights, freedom and prohibition, or nationally defined social convention, but is vitally informed also by Buddhist-inflected forms of representation, practice, and affect." (This extract gives some indication of the book's academic writing style.) There are chapters on Nonzee Nimibutr's Nang Nak (นางนาก), Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady (สัตว์ประหลาด), and the video art of Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. An epilogue discusses Thunska Pansittivorakul's This Area Is Under Quarantine (บริเวณนี้อยู่ภายใต้การกักกัน).

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, edited by James Quandt, is the first English-language book on Apichatpong. Published in 2009, it includes a comprehensive analysis of Apichatpong's feature films, interviews with the director, and an annotated filmography of his short films and features. The Thai Film Archive has published a pocketbook on Apichatpong, and Unknown Forces (สัตว์วิกาล) also includes a detailed filmography.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Beyond Phad Thai

Beyond Phad Thai
Tongpan
Cinema Oasis, a new independent arthouse cinema, will open in Bangkok this month. The cinema was established by director Ing K. and her partner, photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom. (They also run the Kathmandu photography gallery.)

Ing directed the banned film Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย) and the documentary Censor Must Die (เซ็นเซอร์ต้องตาย). When I interviewed her in 2016, she said: "We have to keep on pointing out this ridiculous fact: that filmmakers are the only people without a legal right to freedom of expression. The only people who must submit their work to government inspection before being allowed out into the world."

The first event at Cinema Oasis will be Beyond Phad Thai (เผ็ดกว่าผัดไทย), a season of independent films, beginning with the excellent Tongpan (ทองปาน). Tongpan will be screened on 17th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 28th, and 31st March; and 4th, 7th, and 11th April. The Beyond Phad Thai season finishes on 12th April.

Crushing Dissent in Egypt

Crushing Dissent in Egypt
A woman who accused Egyptian security forces of kidnapping her daughter has been arrested and detained for fifteen days. Mona Mohamed has been charged with spreading false information, after she gave an interview to the BBC about her daughter's disappearance. The programme, Crushing Dissent in Egypt, was broadcast on BBC World News on 24th February as part of the Our World series. A shorter version was shown on BBC2's Newsnight on 21st February.

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