14 November 2023



Cremation Ceremony (ประวัติย่อของบางสิ่งที่หายไป) will be shown as part of a triple bill of short films by Vichart Somkaew at Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok this month. The Small-Talk programme will be screened on 16th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 26th, and 28th November; and 1st, 4th, and 12th December. Vichart will be present for a post-screening discussion on 19th November. Cremation Ceremony was previously shown at this year’s Chiang Mai Film Festival, and at Wildtype 2023.

The film, which resembles a video installation, shows the faces of three politicians staring impassively at the viewer. The three men—Anutin Charnvirakul, former health minister; and two former prime ministers, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Prayut Chan-o-cha—are each responsible for gross injustices. Anutin oversaw the Thai government’s initially sluggish response to the coronavirus pandemic. Abhisit authorised the shooting of red-shirt protesters in 2010. Prayut led a coup, and his government revived lèse-majesté prosecutions.

Vichart sets fire to photographs of the three men, their faces distorting as the photographic paper burns. There is no dialogue, and the only sound is the crackling of the flame. This symbolic ritual is a commemoration of the deaths of Covid victims, red-shirt protesters, and political dissidents, though it’s also a metaphorical act of retribution, as the three men have faced no consequences for their actions. (Anutin recently returned to government, Abhisit was cleared of all charges by the Supreme Court in 2017, and Prayut announced his retirement this year.)

While the three portraits burn slowly, captions mourn the red-shirts shot at Wat Pathum Wanaram, political prisoners charged under article 112, and—most tragically—casualties of the coronavirus. Arnon Nampa’s speech calling for reform of the monarchy is also summarised in the captions, and the film ends on an optimistic note: a final caption explains that pro-democracy parties “emerged victorious” in this year’s election. (The film was made before the progressive election winners were denied a place in the governing coalition and replaced by the political wings of the military junta.)

1 comment(s):

Matthew Hunt said...

Doc Club and Pub: https://ticket.docclubandpub.com/movie/317

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