25 November 2023

Doi Boy


Doi Boy

Nontawat Numbenchapol’s film Doi Boy (ดอยบอย) was released on Netflix yesterday. Nontawat’s documentaries—including Boundary (ฟ้าต่ำแผ่นดินสูง), By the River (สายน้ำติดเชื้อ), and Soil Without Land (ดินไร้แดน)—have highlighted sensitive political issues, and Doi Boy, his first feature film, is no exception.

Boundary and Soil Without Land both explored tensions on Thailand’s borders, and in both cases the documentaries focused on the experiences of a young soldier caught up in a larger conflict. Boundary follows Aod, a Thai soldier who returns to his hometown on the border with Cambodia. Jai, the main subject of Soil Without Land, is a stateless man living on the border between Myanmar and Thailand, who reluctantly joins the Shan State Army.

Sorn, the central protagonist of Doi Boy, is also a young man from Shan State conscripted into the military. After deserting, he crosses the border into Thailand, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. He is forced to totally transform his identity (from monk to soldier to sex worker) and, like other undocumented migrants in Thailand and elsewhere, he is exploited by almost everyone he meets, but particularly by Ji, a corrupt police officer with a guilty conscience.

Doi Boy begins with young Thai demonstrators chanting “For the people!” Clearly, this is meant to evoke the student protest movement that began in 2020, calling for reform of the monarchy, but the real-life slogans were presumably too sensitive for the film. Nontawat previously made Sound of ‘Din’ Daeng, a series of short documentaries about the demonstrators, and he recreates the atmosphere of the protests in Doi Boy.

Another slogan of the Doi Boy protesters is: “It could be you!”, a reference to the kidnapping and murdering of protest ringleaders. It soon becomes clear that the police are behind these crimes, as Ji suffocates a captured protester, Bhoom, with a bin bag. In 2021, corrupt police chief Thitisan Utthanaphon murdered drug suspect Jeerapong Thanapat in the same manner. (That case was also referenced, much less tastefully, in Poj Arnon’s comedy Oh My Ghost! 8/หอแต๋วแตกแหก โควิดปังปุริเย่.)

Doi Boy

At the end of the film, a somewhat ethereal body is shown, in a foetal position, apparently inside an oil drum. Again, this has real-life echoes: several anti-government activists, including Wanchalearm Satsaksit, are missing, presumed dead, and after Porlajee Rakchongcharoen was murdered in 2014, his remains were found in an oil drum. (Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s exhibition A Minor History/ประวัติศาสตร์กระจ้อยร่อย showed the disposal of the bodies of murdered political dissidents in the Mekong river.)

Doi Boy admirably addresses human rights abuses in a feature film, though it’s also very stylishly shot and edited. Phuttiphong Aroonpheng attempted a similar combination with Manta Ray (กระเบนราหู), though whereas Phuttiphong’s film was a case of style over substance, Doi Boy achieves exactly the right balance. This is immediately apparent from the audacious opening sequence, when Sorn performs a striptease wearing a rubber gimp suit, intercut with flashbacks to Ji’s suffocation of Bhoom.

23 November 2023

Red Poetry


Red Poetry

Supamok Silarak’s film Red Poetry (ความกวีสีแดง) will be shown in Salaya this weekend. The feature-length documentary is a profile of performance artist Vitthaya Klangnil, who formed the group Artn’t with fellow student Yotsunthon Ruttapradit. A shorter version—Red Poetry: Verse 1 (เราไป ไหน ได้)—was screened last year at Wildtype 2022.

The documentary, filmed in 2021, shows the intense endurance and commitment Vitthaya invests in his protest art. A durational performance—sitting near Chiang Mai’s Tha Pae Gate for nine full days—led to his collapse from exhaustion. In another action, he climbed onto Chiang Mai University’s main entrance, repeatedly slapped himself in the face, and jumped into a pond. When he reported to the police to answer charges of sedition, he vomited blue paint outside the police station.

The film ends with Vitthaya carving “112” into his chest, in protest at the lèse-majesté (article 112) charges he faced after he exhibited a modified version of the Thai flag in 2021. He was convicted of lèse-majesté earlier this year, and received a suspended sentence.

Red Poetry will be shown at Die Kommune on 25th November, at a screening organised by Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies. It has previously been screened in Chiang Mai earlier this year, and it had an online screening as part of this year’s Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน).

22 November 2023

ใช้แล้ว ใช้อยู่ ใช้ต่อ
(‘I’ve used it, I’m using it, I’ll keep using it’)



Later this week, Bangkok University will be screening a programme of short films that reappropriate found footage. The ใช้แล้ว ใช้อยู่ ใช้ต่อ (‘I’ve used it, I’m using it, I’ll keep using it’) programme includes Chulayarnnon Siriphon’s ANG48 (เอเอ็นจี48) and Kanyarat Theerakrittayakorn’s Develop Viriyaporn Who Dared in Three Worlds (เจริญวิริญาพรมาหาทำใน 3 โลก).

ANG48 reuses scenes from the classic romance Sunset at Chaophraya (คู่กรรม), creating a new backstory for that film’s heroine. It has also been shown this year as part of the Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน) and Wildtype 2023, and at last year’s Shadow Dancing exhibition.

Develop Viriyaporn Who Dared in Three Worlds features clips from short films by the mysterious and elusive Viriyaporn Boonprasert, and interviews with young Thai directors, one of whom may or may not be the face behind Viriyaporn’s pseudonym. It has previously been shown at Wildtype 2022.

ใช้แล้ว ใช้อยู่ ใช้ต่อ will take place at the Surat Osathanugrah Library on 24th November. Its title is a pun on “ทำแล้ว ทำอยู่ ทำต่อ” (‘I’ve done it, I’m doing it, I’ll keep doing it’), Prayut Chan-o-cha’s campaign slogan in this year’s election.

18 November 2023

Studio Ghibli Film Festival 2023


Studio Ghibli Film Festival 2023

A retrospective of Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular films is being held at selected SF Cinema branches (Central malls in Chonburi, Korat, Khon Kaen, Salaya, Surat Thani, and Phuket; the Mall Lifestore in Bangkae and Ngamwongwan; Laemtong in Bangsaen; Sermthai Complex in Maha Sarakham; MAYA in Chiang Mai; and CentralWorld, Rama IX, and MBK in Bangkok) from 25th November to 31st December. SF’s Studio Ghibli Film Festival 2023 features seven Miyazaki classics: Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城), Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し), Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫), Porco Rosso (紅の豚), Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ), Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便), and My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ).

Miyazaki’s masterpiece Spirited Away—arguably the greatest anime film ever made—will be shown on 25th November and 9th December at CentralWorld, MBK, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phuket, and Chonburi; on 26th November at CentralWorld and MBK; on 2nd December at MBK; on 3rd December at CentralWorld, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phuket, and Chonburi; on 10th December at MBK and CentralWorld; on 16th December at CentralWorld, Rama IX, Korat, Bangkae, Ngamwongwan, Salaya, and Surat Thani; on 17th December at MBK; on 18th December at CentralWorld and Chiang Mai; on 19th December at MBK; on 20th December at Maha Sarakham and Bansaen; on 23rd December at MBK, Rama IX, and Ngamwongwan; on Christmas Eve at CentralWorld; on 29th December at Rama IX; on 30th December at MBK, and on 31st December at CentralWorld. It has previously been screened in Bangkok at the Jam Café in 2015, at TK Park in 2018, and at the Baan Dusit Thani hotel in 2020.

14 November 2023

Small-Talk


Small-Talk

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 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.)

09 November 2023

Pulp Fiction


Pulp Fiction

Neighbourhood, the Bangkok community mall that began regular outdoor film screenings last month, will show Pulp Fiction tomorrow. Quentin Tarantino’s classic was previously shown at House Samyan and Bangkok Screening Room in 2019, and at Cinema Winehouse in 2018 and 2015.

01 November 2023

Cannibal Holocaust (4k blu-ray)


Cannibal Holocaust Cannibal Holocaust
Cannibal Holocaust Cannibal Holocaust
Cannibal Holocaust Cannibal Holocaust

Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust was remastered in 4k for the first time by 88 Films in the UK last year, and their new transfer was released on UHD blu-ray and standard blu-ray discs. The film’s opening titles were digitally recreated for the 4k version, using a slightly different typeface [pictured left] compared to the original version [right]. The new titles include several typos: Franco Palaggi and Franco Di Nunzio’s first names both mistakenly appear as “FRANKO”, and ‘authenticity’ is misspelt “autheticity”. (A full stop is also missing.)

As a UK release, the 4k version has been censored by the BBFC, though only one sequence—the killing of a coati—has been cut. As if to offset the typos and censorship, the 88 Films discs also include an excellent new audio commentary by horror expert Kim Newman and writer Barry Forshaw. The US blu-ray, from Grindhouse Releasing, is uncensored, though for purists the only truly complete version is the Dutch Ultrabit DVD edition: in this print, the documentary sequence The Last Road to Hell is a few seconds longer.

The film is notoriously shocking, and remains one of the most famous titles caught up in the ‘video nasties’ moral panic in the UK during the early 1980s. Its genuine cruelty to animals is, of course, indefensible, but it’s also notable as the first ‘found footage’ horror film, directly influencing The Blair Witch Project and indirectly inspiring the wave of Blair Witch imitations that followed.

Cannibal Holocaust is undeniably an exploitation movie—from a cycle of cannibal-themed Italian horror films that began with Man from Deep River (Il paese del sesso selvaggio)—though it transcends that reputation with its critique of the mondo documentary subgenre. As discussed in Killing for Culture, mondo films mutated from the relatively mild Mondo Cane to violent ‘shockumentaries’, a trend that Cannibal Holocaust both condemns and exploits.

Surprisingly, the film has been available uncut on DVD in Thailand for more than twenty years, prior to the introduction of the rating system. (As noted in Thai Cinema Uncensored, Thai film censors are concerned far more with politics and religion than with violence.) It was shown at Bangkok’s Jam Café in 2015, and a screening at Thammasat University was planned in 2020, though this was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Cannibal Holocaust is not the only film whose title sequence has been mangled on blu-ray. All standard blu-ray releases of Ingmar Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet) feature a Swedish title screen with a missing word: “SJUNDE INSEGLET”. (The definite article “DET” has been omitted; 4k UHD blu-ray releases are unaffected.)

31 October 2023

The Disturbing Movie Iceberg



In 2021, a Reddit user known as Nice Guy Phil posted an infographic titled The Disturbing Movie Iceberg, an eight-tiered hierarchy of violent and offensive films. The metaphor in the title suggested that the films in tier one were ‘the tip of the iceberg’, while those in tier eight were the most disturbing films imaginable.

The chart generated a great deal of interest online, though most people who saw it were unaware of most of the films listed. In fact, it’s not advisable to seek out many of the films in the chart, and the only recommended films are those in tiers three and four. (The other tiers are either too mild to be considered truly disturbing, or too extreme to be considered narrative films.)

Tier one consists of mainstream horror movies that are entirely conventional and uncontroversial. Tier two features titles that are slightly more violent than those in tier one, including mainstream horror films that have been dismissed as ‘torture porn’.

Tiers three and four are the core of the list, and most viewers should confine themselves to these tiers. The exploitation films in tier three (such as Cannibal Holocaust) are not mainstream titles, though they have all been theatrically released. Tier four features fake snuff films released on video (including the Guinea Pig/ギニーピッグ series).

The titles in the remaining tiers are not commercial feature films, and should be avoided by most viewers. Tier five features Japanese porn videos, and tier six consists of mondo videos. The final two tiers contain extreme online material: fetish porn in tier seven, and death clips in tier eight.

(A compilation of footage from the 7th October Hamas attack on Israel, untitled though known colloquially as the ‘video of horrors’, would surely find a place in tier eight, though it has not been released to the public. The video, variations of which are between forty-four and forty-seven minutes long, was edited by Mattan Harel-Fisch and includes uncensored footage of the deaths of many Israelis on that day. It has been shown to journalists, politicians, and diplomats at various private screenings.)

26 October 2023

Short Film Marathon 27



The 27th Short Film and Video Festival (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์สั้นครั้งที่ 27) runs from 16th December until Christmas Eve at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya. As a prelude, all of the films submitted will be screened in alphabetical order in this year’s online Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน), between 31st October and 6th December.

The Short Film and Video Festival, founded in 1997, is Thailand’s longest-running film event. Whereas other festivals have come and gone, the Short Film and Video Festival goes from strength to strength: 400 films were submitted last year, and this year the total has increased to 600, though only a fraction will be selected for the main event.

A Love Letter to My Sister
Red Poetry

Highlights this year include A Love Letter to My Sister by video journalist Napasin Samkaewcham, a deeply moving documentary about the volatile relationship between his parents. It will have its first public screening on 11th November.

Also, the feature-length version of Supamok Silarak’s documentary Red Poetry (ความกวีสีแดง)—a profile of performance artist Vitthaya Klangnil, who has been convicted of lèse-majesté—will be shown on 16th November. (It has previously been shown only at under-the-radar screenings in Chiang Mai.)

Three standouts from the Wildtype 2023 event—Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s ANG48 (เอเอ็นจี48), Vichart Somkaew’s Cremation Ceremony (ประวัติย่อของบางสิ่งที่หายไป), and Koraphat Cheeradit’s Yesterday Is Another Day—are also included, showing on 2nd, 4th, and 19th November, respectively. (Cremation Ceremony and Yesterday Is Another Day were previously screened at this year’s Chiang Mai Film Festival, and Yesterday Is Another Day has also been shown at Silpakorn University.)

Chatchawal Thongjun’s From Forest to City (อรัญนคร), one of the best Thai short films of the year, will be shown on 6th December. Koraphat Cheeradit’s experimental, transgressive Tomorrow I Fuck with Yesterday Now! (ฉันแต่งงานกับปัจจุบัน ช่วยตัวเองด้วยเมื่อวาน และมีเพศสัมพันธ์กับวันพรุ่งนี้) is screening on 19th November.


กลุ่มอิสระล้อการเมือง 14 ตุลา (‘political parody of 14th Oct.’), Warat Bureephakdee’s satirical commentary on the aftermath of the 14th October 1973 massacre, is screening on 21st November. Warat’s collage film reappropriates footage from the documentary อนุทินวีรชน 14 ตุลาคม (‘diary of 14th October heroes’), and he takes a skeptical view of the claims of democratic freedom that were made after the event. The film ends with the caption “ถนอม WILL RETURN” (‘Thanom will return’), in the style of the James Bond series, though in this case the ominous reference is to military dictator Thanom Kittikachorn. Thanom was sent into exile after the massacre, though he did indeed return to Thailand in 1976, and this precipitated the 6th October 1976 coup.

On 30th November, Teeraphan Ngowjeenanan’s แฟ้มรวมภาพทักษิณกลับไทย (‘dossier of pictures of Thaksin’s return to Thailand’) documents another politician’s return from exile. Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand earlier this year, and the film is a compilation of live TV coverage of his arrival at the airport and his performative prostration in front of a portrait of Rama X. The events are replayed more than twenty times, each from a different TV broadcast, accompanied by commentary from each channel’s news anchors. The film ends with a montage of TikTok videos from Thaksin supporters at the airport.


Kawinnate Konklong’s แค่วันที่โชคร้าย (‘unfortunately’) dramatises the ideological gap between generations, as a royalist father files a lèse-majesté charge against his daughter’s girlfriend, Bam, after she attends a protest calling for reform of the monarchy. The man tells his daughter: “I used the law to protect the King from defamation. Unfortunately, the person was Bam.” His dialogue evokes a comment from former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who dismissed dozens of civilian casualties: “unfortunately, some people died”. The film will be shown on 23rd November, and although its plot is fictional, it echoes journalist Michael Peel’s book The Fabulists. Peel interviewed a man who filed lèse-majesté charges against young activists, and consequently “had fallen out with his son over his alleged disrespect for the monarchy.”

20 October 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon


Killers of the Flower Moon

Like The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is around three-and-a-half hours long, but the running time doesn’t feel excessive, thanks to Scorsese’s direction and Robbie Robertson’s score. The film tells the true story of the murders of Osage Native Americans in the 1920s, killings committed by white settlers who married into Osage families to inherit the profits from oil wells in Osage County.

Robert De Niro’s character, King Hale, is a corrupt patriarch in the same vein as John Huston’s Noah Cross in Chinatown, though De Niro’s performance is more subtle than Huston’s. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hale’s nephew, Ernest Burkhart—who loves his wife, but loves money even more—with an almost permanent frown. Relative newcomer Lily Gladstone is outstanding as Ernest’s stoic wife, Mollie.

Killers of the Flower Moon opened in cinemas yesterday, and will be available on Apple TV in the near future. One of Scorsese’s best films of the last two decades, it’s an epic late-career masterpiece from the world’s greatest living director (who makes a few cameo appearances, in front of the camera and in voiceover). The film’s Osage-language title is 𐓀𐒻͘𐓂͘𐓄𐒰 𐒹𐒿𐒰𐓆𐒼𐒰 𐓓𐒻͘𐒼𐒰 𐓊'𐒷𐓍𐒷.

18 October 2023

Trilogy of the Wayward Travelers


Trilogy of the Wayward Travelers

Weerapat Sakolvaree’s short film Nostalgia will be shown tomorrow at Bangkok University’s School of Digital Media and Cinematic Arts, as part of the Trilogy of the Wayward Travelers programme. Weerapat will be present for a post-screening discussion.

Nostalgia has previously been shown at the Chiang Mai Film Festival 2023, Future Fest 2023, Wildtype 2022, and the 26th Thai Short Film and Video Festival. Weerapat is also the director of Zombie Citizens.

07 October 2023

๕๐ ปี ๑๔ ตุลา
(‘50 years of 14th Oct.’)



This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 14th October 1973 demonstration, when 500,000 people rallied at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument calling for an end to Thanom Kittikachorn’s dictatorial rule. The protest was successful, as Thanom was dismissed as prime minister and sent into exile, though the military shot and killed seventy-seven protesters. The anniversary was commemorated with an exhibition of paintings at g23 earlier in the year, and there will also be an exhibition at the forthcoming Thailand Book Expo and screenings at the Thai Film Archive later this month.

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is also holding an exhibition to mark the anniversary, from 3rd to 15th October, with replicas of billboards created by the United Artists’ Front of Thailand (แนวร่วมศิลปินแห่งประเทศไทย). The billboards were originally displayed outdoors in 1975, and the replicas have been shown at two previous exhibitions: Political Cut-out Artworks of the October Event (ภาพศิลปะคัทเอาท์การเมืองเดือนตุลา) in 2003 and ภาพคัตเอาท์การเมืองเดือนตุลา (‘October political billboard artworks’) in 2009.

BACC will also be screening a series of short films, including Pirab (พิราบ) and the documentary The Shadow of History (เงาประวัติศาสตร์) on 8th October, and 16 ตุลา (‘16th Oct.’) on 15th October. (Pirab was previously shown at Thammasat University earlier this month, at Future Fest 2023, and at the Thai Film Archive in 2017. 16 ตุลา was previously shown online as part of Democracy.exe in 2021.)

The Shadow of History, produced by the Thai Film Archive on the fortieth anniversary of the protest, features newsreel footage of the event filmed by Chin Klaiparn and Taweesak Wiriyasiri. It was directed by Panu Aree, Kong Rithdee, and Kaweenipon Ketprasit.

Pirab, directed by Pasit Promnumpol, begins with a flashback (in sound only) to another massacre, on 6th October 1976, which took place after Thanom’s return from exile. The film dramatises a student’s anguished decision to leave his family and join the Communist insurgency, allowing the audience to empathise with the young man’s dilemma.

In 16 ตุลา, three student protest leaders debate their tactics in the aftermath of the 2014 coup. (The three students could, of course, be substitutes for Arnon Nampa, Panusaya Sithjirawattanakul, and Parit Chirawak.) Aomtip Kerdplanant’s drama shows how the students’ lives have changed in the years since their initial campaign, indicating how seasoned protesters can become disillusioned. The title is a conflation of the 14th October 1973 and 6th October 1976 massacres, which have been whitewashed to such an extent that many people cannot tell them apart.

05 October 2023

คนอุบลใน 6 ตุลา
(‘Ubon people and 6th Oct.’)


Songsarn

Tomorrow marks the forty-seventh anniversary of the massacre that took place at Thammasat University on 6th October 1976, the most notorious date in modern Thai history. The anniversary will be commemorated at Thammasat tomorrow, but only for a single day. There will be a one-day exhibition—112 มรดก 6 ตุลา— (‘112: the legacy of 6th Oct.’) and screenings of the documentary Different Views, Death Sentence (ต่างความคิด ผิดถึงตาย ๖ ตุลาคม ๒๕๑๙) and the short film Pirab (พิราบ). There will also be a discussion titled เอายังไงดีกับกองเซ็นเซอร์: บทบาทของคณะกรรมการพิจารณาภาพยนตร์และวิดิทัศน์ภายใต้รัฐบาลซอฟต์พาวเวอร์ (‘what to do with the censors: the role of the National Film and Video Committee and soft power’), arguing that Thailand’s film industry can only contribute to the country’s soft power if the censors’ role is restricted purely to classification rather than cutting or banning films.

คนอุบลใน 6 ตุลา (‘Ubon people and 6th Oct.’), an exhibition at the Songsarn café in Ubon Ratchathani, runs from 22nd September to 6th October and includes photographs of the massacre. Outside the cafe is an enlargement of the Neal Ulevich photograph that has come to symbolise the tragedy, with the hanging man’s body cut out, leaving a physical void in the image to symbolise the whitewashing of the event. A folding chair—a reference to Neal Ulevich’s famous photograph of the massacre—is also hanging outside the venue, and will be used in a performance by artist Narasith Vongprasert tomorrow.


Both the Thammasat and Songsarn exhibitions feature reproductions of the infamous Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) newspaper front page that precipitated the massacre. The Thammasat exhibition also includes a copy of a speech read by Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul at a 12th December 2021 protest calling for the abolition of article 112 of the criminal code (the lèse-majesté law). The paper is stained with Panusaya’s blood, as she carved “112” into her arm at the demonstration.

Pirab will also be shown on 8th October at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. It was previously shown at Future Fest earlier this year, and at the Thai Film Archive in 2017. Folding chairs have also been shown suspended from ropes at the Status in Statu, Uncensored, and Khonkaen Manifesto (ขอนแก่น แมนิเฟสโต้) exhibitions.

04 October 2023

กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง
(‘Bangkok open air’)



The กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง (‘Bangkok open air’) festival returns this year, with outdoor screenings around Bangkok between 7th October and 12th November. Highlights include The Moonhunter (14 ตุลา สงครามประชาชน), showing on 14th October at Lan Khon Mueang Town Square; 6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69), on 5th November at the historic Metropolitan Waterworks Authority building; and The Wizard of Oz, on 11th November at Benchakitti Forest Park.

The Moonhunter dramatises the 14th October 1973 protest that ended Thanom Kittikachorn’s military dictatorship, and the screening will take place on the fiftieth anniversary of the event. It will also be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, on 15th and 19th October.

Pen-ek Ratanaruang remade his thriller 6ixtynin9 as a Netflix series last month. The film was previously shown at Bangkok Screening Room in 2017. As part of a Pen-ek retrospective in 2018, it was screened on DVD at the Jam Factory and in 35mm at House RCA, and it was also shown at Alliançe Francaise as part of another Pen-ek retrospective that year.

The Wizard of Oz, a Hollywood classic, returned to cinemas earlier this year to celebrate the centenary of Warner Bros. It was previously shown at Bangkok Screening Room in 2018, 2019, and 2020. It has also been screened at the Scala, Cinema Winehouse, Bangkok Community Theatre, and Jam Café.

01 October 2023

Halloween Special!


Halloween Special!

Neighbourhood, a Bangkok community mall that opened in May, will start regular outdoor film screenings from this month. Their inaugural programme, Halloween Special!, includes a handful of horror movies for Halloween. Wes Craven’s postmodern classic Scream will be screened on 27th October.

24 September 2023

Wildtype 2023


Wildtype 2023

Wildtype, the annual season of short films programmed by Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa and Sasawat Boonsri, returns next week. The event was held in several provinces in 2021 and 2022, though Wildtype 2023 has expanded significantly, with screenings at Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok, Mueang Thong Rama in Phayao, Alien Artspace in Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai University’s Department of Media Arts and Design, Noir Row Art Space in Udon Thani, Lorem Ipsum in Hat Yai, 82 Jabang in Pattani, Grow Home in Chaing Rai, June Art Home in Phitsanulok, and Class Café in Korat. This year’s highlights include Koraphat Cheeradit’s Yesterday Is Another Day, Vichart Somkaew’s Cremation Ceremony (ประวัติย่อของบางสิ่งที่หายไป), and Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s ANG48 (เอเอ็นจี48).

In Yesterday Is Another Day, a teenage boy enjoys what could be his last day of freedom, as he prepares to appear in court on lèse-majesté charges. Cremation Ceremony condemns three Thai politicians—Anutin Charnvirakul, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and Prayut Chan-o-cha—by slowly burning their portraits in a metaphorical act of retribution. ANG48 reappropriates footage from Chulayarnnon’s recent video works, including his banned film Birth of Golden Snail (กำเนิดหอยทากทอง).

Yesterday Is Another Day and Cremation Ceremony will be screened in Bangkok on 1st October, and in Chiang Mai on 5th October. Cremation Ceremony is showing in Udon Thani on 7th October and in Khon Kaen on 5th November. Yesterday Is Another Day will also be shown in Phayao on 1st October, in Pattani on 2nd October, in Chiang Rai on 7th October, and in Khon Kaen on 4th November. ANG48 will be shown in Bangkok, Pattani, and Phayao on 1st October; in Chiang Mai on 4th October; in Phitsanulok on 7th October; in Udon Thani on 8th October; and in Khon Kaen on 7th November. ANG48 and Yesterday Is Another Day will be screened in Hat Yai on 1st October. All three films will be screened in Korat on 1st October.

Yesterday Is Another Day had a previous screening at Silpakorn University in Bangkok. Cremation Ceremony has previously been shown at the AEY Space gallery in Songkla, at Lorem Ipsum in Hat Yai, and at the University of Phayao. Both films were also included in this year’s Chiang Mai Film Festival. ANG48 was first shown at the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok.

15 September 2023

Dragon Inn


Nitade Movie Club

King Hu’s Dragon Inn (龍門客棧) will be shown at Chulalongkorn University next week as part of a triple bill. The screening, organised by Nitade Movie Club, will be at the Faculty of Communication Arts on 19th September. Dragon Inn (also known as Dragon Gate Inn) set the template for the modern wuxia (martial-arts fantasy) film, and the genre was revived in the 2000s by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍) and Hero (英雄).

11 September 2023

6ixtynin9:
The Series


6ixtynin9: The Series

Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s 6ixtynin9: The Series (เรื่องตลก 69 เดอะซีรีส์) was released on Netflix on 6th September (6/9). Pen-ek has remade his 1999 thriller 6ixtynin9 (เรื่องตลก 69) as a six-episode series with a new cast. In an interview with the Bangkok Post two days before the release date, he denied that the project was a straightforward remake: “I wouldn’t call it a remake because that wasn’t what I intended to do... I think this is a new version of the story and not a remake. There are more storylines, new characters and locations.”

The plot has certainly been expanded, though the events of the original film are all repeated. (Even the 1990s technology has barely been updated: the characters now have smartphones, but landlines and cassettes are still significant to the plot.) As in the film version, a young woman (Toom) loses her job and finds ฿1 million in a box outside her door. Like the similar setup in Shallow Grave, this unexpected windfall soon leads to unwanted visitors and bodies piling up. Alfred Hitchcock is another clear influence, especially Rope (bodies in chests) and Psycho (the swamp). Pen-ek even has a Hitchcockian cameo in the series, as an advertising executive.

While Toom’s plotline sticks closely to the film version, there’s a new subplot involving a police drugs raid (which takes up most of the final episode), and a mysterious woman in white who greets the deceased at the pearly gates. (This female Saint Peter is played by Veeraporn Nitiprapha, author of The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth/ไส้เดือนตาบอดในเขาวงกต). The heavenly sequences take the series into Magical Realist territory, when two dead characters are—literally—given a new lease of life. This initially seems like a reprieve for one man, though he dies again when a joke from the film version is actually carried out in the series (in a reference to In the Realm of the Senses/愛のコリーダ).

6ixtynin9: The Series

The series is more graphic than the film, as the film was made before Thailand’s movie rating system was introduced. (The sex scenes are framed similarly to those in Pen-ek’s Ploy/พลอย.) In an interview for Thai Cinema Uncensored, Pen-ek described how the censors instructed him to add a caption reassuring cinema audiences that Toom had been successfully apprehended by the police: “we were asked by the police to put the rolling credit saying that she was caught and went to jail.” Their justification wasn’t the usual crime-doesn’t-pay moral lesson; instead, it was a face-saving measure by the police: “if the girl could do this, the police look bad.”

The film was made, and set, in the aftermath of Thailand’s 1997 economic collapse (known here as the ‘tom yum goong crisis’). The new series was filmed shortly after the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused similar economic damage. Toom’s company goes bankrupt and—like real-life businesses such as Star Edu, owners of the Kaplan Thailand franchise—its management tries to avoid giving its staff the severance pay they’re legally entitled to.

The show also has a political message: news reports of pro-reform student protests are seen on TV sets throughout the series, starting with footage from 16th October 2020. Similarly, Snap (แค่... ได้คิดถึง), The Island Funeral (มหาสมุทรและสุสาน), Tang Wong (ตั้งวง), and Pen-ek’s short film Two Little Soldiers (สาวสะเมิน) are also punctuated by news reports of political violence. The series ends with an ominous written epilogue speculating on another state crackdown: “THE WIND OF CHANGE HAS BLOWN AWAY... TEAR GAS A YEAR LATER. BUT HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.”

The film version of 6ixtynin9 will be shown on 5th November in an outdoor screening at the historic Metropolitan Waterworks Authority building in Maen Si, Bangkok. The screening is part of the second กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง (‘Bangkok open air’) festival, which runs from 7th October to 12th November. The film was previously shown at Bangkok Screening Room in 2017. As part of a Pen-ek retrospective in 2018, it was screened on DVD at the Jam Factory and in 35mm at House RCA, and it was also shown at Alliançe Francaise as part of another Pen-ek retrospective that year.

09 September 2023

Blade Runner


Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s dystopian science-fiction classic Blade Runner will be shown next month at House Samyan in Bangkok. The film has been released in five different versions: the workprint, the US theatrical cut (with a studio-imposed happy ending), the international theatrical cut (with slightly more violence), the director’s cut (with a unicorn dream sequence), and the 2007 ‘final cut’ (with some CGI enhancements).

House Samyan will show the 2007 version on 6th, 7th, and 8th October. (The screenings are organised by Doc Club and Pub.) Blade Runner was previously shown at Bangkok Screening Room in 2017, at the Jam Café in 2019, and at Arcadia this year. (In fact, the film inspired much of Arcadia’s décor and branding.)

08 September 2023

The Exorcist


The Exorcist

This month sees another theatrical rerelease of William Friedkin’s classic horror film The Exorcist, which returns to Thai cinemas on 28th September. (Strangely, not at Halloween.)

The film is being advertised as an ‘extended director’s cut’, though that label is rather misleading: at the request of the screenwriter, Friedkin reinstated some sequences he had previously left on the cutting-room floor, so it would be more accurate to call it an extended writer’s cut. Friedkin also took the opportunity to add subliminal CGI demon faces in several scenes, and made some tweaks to the soundtrack.

The extended cut, originally marketed as The Version You’ve Never Seen, was first shown in 2000. (In the UK at Halloween, even midnight screenings were sold out.) When this version was released on blu-ray in 2010, Friedkin removed two of the CGI demon faces. It’s the 2010 version that will be rereleased later this month.

The rerelease marks the film’s fiftieth anniversary, and is also part of Warner Bros. 100, as 2023 is the studio’s centenary. Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz were also rereleased earlier this year as part of Warner Bros. 100. The Exorcist has been shown in Bangkok several times before: at Cinema Winehouse in 2016 and 2018, at Scala in 2018, and at Bangkok Screening Room in 2019.