25 November 2022

Chronicle of a Summer


Chronicle of a Summer

Doc Club and Pub, the boutique Bangkok cinema, will be screening the classic Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d’un été) every day from today until 7th December. This self-reflexive documentary is an experiment in cinematic truth, which director Jean Rouch readily acknowledged was a contradiction in terms. It was the first example of cinéma vérité, a French movement that developed in parallel with the non-participatory ‘direct cinema’ approach pioneered in the US. Chronicle of a Summer, one of Dateline Bangkok’s 100 greatest films, was previously shown by Doc Club at Warehouse 30 in 2018.

19 November 2022

Democracy after Death:
The Tragedy of Uncle Nuamthong Praiwan


The Power of Doc

There will be a rare screening of Neti Wichiansaen’s film Democracy after Death: The Tragedy of Uncle Nuamthong Praiwan (ประชาธิปไตยหลังความตาย เรื่องเศร้าของลุงนวมทอง) tomorrow in Chiang Mai. The documentary covers almost a decade of divisive Thai politics, a period bookended by the coups of 2006 and 2014. It describes the 2010 military crackdown as “the most brutal political massacre in Thai history” and—like Thunska Pansittivorakul’s The Terrorists (ผู้ก่อการร้าย)—it blames former prime minister Abhisit personally for the incident: “Directly responsible, Abhisit Vejjajiva holds Thailand’s new record of the number of people shot by the military.”

The film is significant for its inclusion of sensitive political events excluded from Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย). It also serves as a counterpoint to Ing Kanjanavanit’s Bangkok Joyride (บางกอกจอยไรด์): whereas Bangkok Joyride is pro-PDRC, Democracy after Death is equally biased in favour of deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra, noting sympathetically that he “was forced to leave and has had to remain outside Thailand” though ignoring his corruption conviction. These events are all narrated in a voiceover addressed to Nuamthong Praiwan, a pro-democracy protester who committed suicide in 2006. Nuamthong was also the subject of Prap Boonpan’s short film Letter from the Silence (จดหมายจากความเงียบ) and Rap Against Dictatorship’s recent music video 16 ปีแล้วไอ้สัส (‘it’s been 16 years, ai sat’).

Democracy after Death’s director is living in exile, due to an outstanding lèse-majesté prosecution. As in Narayana’s Arrow Spaceship (ยานศรนารายณ์), the film’s credits have been self-censored to avoid potentially incriminating any of the cast or crew. It will be shown in an open-air screening at Suan Anya tomorrow evening, as part of The Power of Doc, a weekend of political documentaries showing at various venues around Chiang Mai University.

10 November 2022

26th Thai Short Film and Video Festival


26th Thai Short Film and Video Festival

The 26th Short Film and Video Festival (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์สั้นครั้งที่ 26) runs from 17th December until Christmas Day at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya. This year’s Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน)—screenings of all films submitted, in alphabetical order—will take place online via Zoom from 8th November to 2nd December. There are more than 400 titles in the Short Film Marathon, only a fraction of which will be selected for the main event in Salaya.

4+2563

4+2563 หลักฐานเล่าสมัย (‘4+2020: contemporary evidence’), by the Filmocracy group, was shown on 8th November, and features an interview with the founder of the Museum of Popular History. He discusses some of the political ephemera from his collection, including a Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra calendar.

Coup d'etat

Natthapol Kitwarasai’s Coup d’état was shown this evening. A soldier rummages through an old man’s meagre possessions in this dialogue-free, black-and-white film. Although the drama is metaphorical, the film opens with photographs of the military leaders who instigated Thailand’s many coups.

Nostalgia

Weerapat Sakolvaree’s Nostalgia, first shown at Wildtype 2022 last month, will be screened on 16th November. In a series of still images, a young man discovers that, whenever he fires a shooting-star toy into the sky, he becomes receptive to sounds that regress progressively further into Bangkok’s violent past. The toy is a conduit for these sonic echoes of historical violence, which form an audio collage in Weerapat’s film.

On 22nd November there will be screenings of two documentaries from the Resurgent Truth (คืนความจริง) series produced by Pheu Thai to mark the 11th anniversary of the 2010 massacre: เสธ.แดง ทหารของประชาชน (‘the people’s soldier’) on the death of Khattiya Sawasdipol, and เสื้อแดง ความจริงที่ถูกบิดเบือน (‘red-shirts: the distorted truth’) on the demonisation of red-shirt protesters as terrorists.

26 October 2022

Thai Film Archive


L'Atalante Ugetsu

Two classics of world cinema will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya later this year. L’Atalante is playing on 2nd and 20th November. Ugetsu (雨月物語) will be screened in 16mm on 6th and 11th December. (Ugetsu was previously shown at the Japan Foundation in 2013 and 2014.)

Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, his only feature-length film, was an influential early example of French poetic realism, and was originally released only a few weeks before the director died of tuberculosis. Ugetsu, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, is a key example of the Japanese kaidan-eiga (‘ghost story’) genre. (Mizoguchi also made one of the first kaidan-eiga films, in 1926; like his contemporary, Yasujiro Ozu, his career spanned Japanese cinema’s two golden ages, the 1920s and 1950s.)

11 October 2022

Nostalgia


Nostalgia

In Weerapat Sakolvaree’s new short film Nostalgia, a young man discovers that, whenever he fires a shooting-star toy into the sky, he becomes receptive to sounds that regress progressively further into Bangkok’s violent past. Like Chris Marker’s La jetée (‘the jetty’), the ironically-titled Nostalgia is comprised of a series of still photographs, though it also includes archive newsreel footage of the 6th October 1976 massacre.

Standing at the roadside in Din Daeng, the protagonist hears “fireworks and a lot of motorcycles.” These are sounds of the clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police that took place there last August. (Police fired rubber bullets at protesters on 10th, 11th, 13th, and 15th August 2021.) At Siam Square, he hears the sound of riot police deploying water cannon against protesters on 16th October 2020. At Lumpini Park, the sound of the 19th May 2010 military crackdown fills his ears, followed by the ‘Black May’ 1992 massacre at Democracy Monument, and the 6th October 1976 massacre at Thammasat University.

These locations are, to use the Dutch artist Armando’s term, ‘guilty landscapes’: silent witnesses to past traumas. Like the origami bird in Panya Zhu’s White Bird (นกตัวนั้นยังสบายดีไหม), the toy in Nostalgia is a conduit for sonic echoes of historical violence, which form an audio collage in Weerapat’s film. Nostalgia is also similar to Chai Chaiyachit and Chisanucha Kongwailap’s Re-presentation (ผีมะขาม ไพร่ฟ้า ประชาธิปไตย ในคืนที่ลมพัดหวน), which likewise revisits Bangkok’s ‘guilty landscapes’. Nostalgia and Re-presentation both end with shots of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, hinting at the established hierarchies underlying Thai politics. In Nostalgia, the Throne Hall is seen from behind iron railings, a reminder that the building was closed to the public by royal decree.

Nostalgia was one of the standout films from this month’s Wildtype 2022 screening programme, shown as part of the Angry Young Citizen strand. It was screened at four venues on 1st October: Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok, Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration, Lorem Ipsum in Hat Yai, and the Khon Kaen branch of TCDC. It was also shown at Bookhemian in Phuket on 8th October.

Movie Night at One Nimman


Movie Night at One Nimman Movie Night at One Nimman

A season of outdoor film screenings is being held at One Nimman in Chiang Mai, with classic Thai films projected in 35mm every Wednesday evening. Movie Night at One Nimman (เชียงใหม่ กลางแปลง) began on 21st September with Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์). Of the films already scheduled, the highlight is Wisit Sasanatieng’s Tears of the Black Tiger (ฟ้าทะลายโจร), screening on 26th October.

Wisit’s Citizen Dog (หมานคร) and Nonzee Nimibutr’s Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters [sic] (2499 อันธพาลครองเมือง) will also be shown, when the season continues next month. Monrak Transistor and Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters were both also included in the recent กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง (‘Bangkok open air’) season.

06 October 2022

6th October 1976 Filmography


By the Time It Gets Dark / Sun Rises When Day Breaks / Salang Bunnag
46 Years, 46 Films

Today is the 46th anniversary of the 6th October 1976 Thammasat University massacre. Coincidentally, the tragedy has since been referenced in forty-six films, documentaries, and music videos, which are all listed in this filmography. Many of these titles are discussed in Thai Cinema Uncensored, which features a comprehensive survey of Thai political cinema.

02 October 2022

Wildtype 2022


Wildtype 2022
Develop Viriyaporn Who Dared in Three Worlds

Wildtype, a two-day programme of new short films, began yesterday. Like last year’s event, Wildtype 2022 includes a strand dedicated to political documentaries, which is this year titled Politicx. Wildtype, curated by Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, is an offshoot of Sonthaya Subyen’s Filmvirus group.

Politicx begins with Kanyarat Theerakrittayakorn’s Develop Viriyaporn Who Dared in Three Worlds (เจริญวิริญาพรมาหาทำใน 3 โลก), a quest to reveal the true identity of the mysterious Viriyaporn Boonprasert, the pseudonymous director whose satirical films have perplexed Thailand’s close-knit cinephile community. There’s no Scooby Doo-style unmasking moment, though plausible suspicions are raised, followed by bemused denials.

Red Poetry: Verse 1
Red's Scar

The most directly political films in Politicx are both named after the pro-democracy red-shirt movement. Supamok Silarak’s Red Poetry: Verse 1 (เราไป ไหน ได้) documents the activities (or, in art terms, happenings) of Vitthaya Klangnil and Yotsunthon Ruttapradit, who formed the group Artn’t. The film shows the Thai flag they exhibited, with transparent material in place of the central blue stripe. Vitthaya is also shown carving “112” into his chest, in protest at the lèse-majesté (article 112) charges they faced. In the heartbreaking Red’s Scar (บาดแผลสีแดง), Nutcha Tantivitayapitak interviews a protester falsely accused of arson following the 2010 massacre. Tragically, his mother and son both died while he was in jail.

Wildtype 2022 runs until 9th October. Politicx was shown yesterday at Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok and Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration. It will be shown again on 8th October at Mueang Thong Rama in Phayao and Bookhemian in Phuket.

31 August 2022

Battleship Potemkin


Battleship Potemkin

The classic Battleship Potemkin (Бронено́сец «Потёмкин») will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya on 7th September. The film is an agitprop dramatisation of the 1905 Russian Revolution, though it also demonstrates director Sergei Eisenstein’s revolutionary montage editing technique, and the ‘Odessa steps’ massacre is arguably the most famous sequence in silent cinema.

The archive’s 16mm print was donated by the embassy of the Soviet Union and first shown as part of the หนังดีที่สุดในโลก (‘greatest films in the world’) programme, one of the inaugural events of the Thailand Cultural Centre in 1987. The print is an unrestored, edited version (just under an hour long), with an English-language voice-over that fills in the gaps in the narrative.

Battleship Potemkin was previously screened at the archive in 2011, with live music by Nipat Chaisap. It was shown twice at Bangkok Screening Room, in 2018 (with a soundtrack by the Pet Shop Boys) and 2020 (with live music by Viveka).

16 July 2022

Come Here


Come Here

A group of four young friends, on vacation in Kanchanaburi, arrive at the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, only to discover that it’s closed for renovation. After their initial disappointment, they decide to explore the woodlands surrounding the museum instead, and their interest in the World War II ‘death railway’ soon wanes. Their (improvised) dialogue is deliberately inconsequential, highlighting the contrast between the area’s dark historical past and the oblivious group’s contemporary preoccupations.

Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Come Here (ใจจำลอง) is one of a handful of recent Thai films that explore what the Dutch artist Armando called ‘guilty landscapes’: tranquil spaces that bore silent witness to past violence. (Anocha’s black-and-white cinematography is a reminder of the area’s historical significance, and another contrast to the film’s youthful protagonists.) Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (จดหมายถงลงบญม) and Thunska Pansittivorakul’s Santikhiri Sonata (สันติคีรี โซนาตา) also examine Thailand’s ‘guilty landscapes’ (as discussed in Thai Cinema Uncensored), though Come Here has a closer connection to Taiki Sakpisit’s Seeing in the Dark, which also begins at the site of a state memorial.

Come Here also includes archive footage of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and Dusit Zoo, two Bangkok landmarks that were closed to the public by royal decree. (Taiki’s Shadow and Act and Sorayos Prapapan’s Prelude of the Moving Zoo were also filmed at Dusit Zoo and, like Sorayos, Anocha captures the zoo’s final day of operation.) The zoo footage in Come Here seems unrelated to the film’s main narrative, though there is much that remains unexplained. Most puzzling is a subplot in which a young woman wanders around in distress, before morphing into a man, in a sequence inspired by An American Werewolf in London (and perhaps Michael Jackson’s Black or White music video).

Anocha is one of the most original voices in independent Thai cinema; her films Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก) and By the Time It Gets Dark (ดาวคะนอง)—and Krabi, 2562 (กระบี่ ๒๕๖๒), codirected by Ben Rivers—are truly unique. Like Come Here, Mundane History and By the Time It Gets Dark also draw on Thailand’s political history and feature repetition as a narrative device. Come Here feels less profound by comparison, though perhaps that’s inevitable, as its subtext of historical amnesia remains hidden beneath the surface.

10 July 2022

Kaali


Kaali

Indian filmmaker Leena Manimekalai is facing potential blasphemy charges after public outrage over the poster for her film Kaali. Manimekalai, who is based in Canada, portrays the Hindu goddess Kali in the short film, which was shown at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto on 2nd July. In the film’s poster, Kali is depicted smoking a cigarette and waving an LGBTQ rainbow flag. Complaints have been lodged with police in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

05 July 2022

Thai Cinema Uncensored


Sojourn

Thai Cinema Uncensored is reviewed in the new issue of Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia (volume 37, number 2), on pages 374-377. In her review, Annette Hamilton writes: “This is a great read not just for those interested in film, but for anyone trying to understand the nexus between culture and politics in Thailand in recent times.” She concludes: “This book is a valuable addition to Thai cinema studies. It is well-written and instructive.” (The book has previously been reviewed by the Bangkok Post newspaper, Art Review and The Big Chilli magazines, and the 101 World website.)

Thai Cinema Uncensored


The 101 World

The Thai news website The 101 World reviewed Thai Cinema Uncensored on 21st January 2021. (The book has also been reviewed by the Bangkok Post newspaper, and Art Review and The Big Chilli magazines.)

In his 101 World review, headlined “ภาพยนตร์ไทยไม่ต้องห้าม” (‘Thai movies are not forbidden’), Matt Changsupan writes: “สิ่งที่ทำให้ Thai Cinema Uncensored แข็งแรงขึ้นในการนำเสนอเรื่องของการเซนเซอร์ในภาพยนตร์ไทย นอกจากข้อมูลที่อัปเดตมากๆ... ได้ให้ภาพของการตั้งคำถามเกี่ยวกับการเมืองการปกครองร่วมสมัยผ่านภาพยนตร์ได้อย่างค่อนข้างครบถ้วน” (‘what are the strengths of Thai Cinema Uncensored in its discussion of Thai film censorship? In addition to its very up-to-date content... it provides a rather complete picture of the questioning of contemporary politics through film’).

02 July 2022

Mob 2020-2021


Moving Images Screening Night

Mob 2020-2021

The third Moving Images Screening Night (คืนฉายภาพเคลื่อนไหว) took place at Doc Club and Pub in Bangkok on 30th June. (The first Moving Images Screening Night, on 28th April, featured Jittarin Wuthiphan’s powerful short film Still on My Mind, his record of a mob in Phuket attacking a man they accused of disrespecting King Rama IX. The second event, on 25th May, included Suwaporn Worrasit’s Ratchadamnoen Route View 2482+.) Each screening is divided into two themed programmes, which for the third event were Eclipse and Lucid Memory.

The highlight of the evening was Supong Jitmuang’s Mob 2020-2021, a chronicle of the current student protest movement. Supong told me that the film is “handmade”, emphasising the intricate nature of this two-hour documentary. Audience members received a Moving Images Screening Night brochure (Phase 01: Program Book), which the organisers also describe as “handmade”: a zine-style publication with a limited print run. Mob 2020-2021 postcards were also available.

Mob 2020-2021 covers the first twelve months of the anti-government protest movement. Supong and his camera were at Thammasat University on 19th September 2020, for the overnight rally that later occupied Sanam Luang. On 14th October 2020, he filmed the march to Government House, after which a state of emergency was declared. On 17th November 2020, he was on the front line when protesters used inflatable ducks to protect themselves from water cannon fired by riot police. (Sorayos Prapapan’s short film Yellow Duck Against Dictatorship documents the same event.)

The protests intensified last summer, and Mob 2020-2021 shows the rally at Democracy Monument on 18th July 2021 marking the first anniversary of the anti-government campaign. Last August, there were almost daily confrontations between riot police and protesters, but rather than filming each event, Supong summarises them in a general written caption noting the “multiple continuous clashes that lasted many weeks” (Hopefully, the ongoing Sound of ‘Din’ Daeng documentary series will cover this period, and the violent tactics employed by the riot police, in more detail.)

The closest equivalent to Mob 2020-2021 is probably Ing Kanjanavanit’s Bangkok Joyride (บางกอกจอยไรด์) though, of course, the two directors are from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Two renditions of Do You Hear the People Sing? in Mob 2020-2021, for example, serve as a counterpoint to Bangkok Joyride’s fetishisation of the national anthem. Bangkok Joyride and Mob 2020-2021 both provide an exhaustive record of street politics, though Mob 2020-2021 is a more objective account.

Mob 2020-2021 is the first feature-length documentary covering the recent protest movement. (The only other example, The Evil of Time’s Growth, focuses solely on the Thalufah group.) It’s an invaluable record of a profound social and political change in Thailand. Supong’s film also includes a written timeline of the protests, and its matter-of-fact neutrality is maintained throughout, except for a single reference to the “parasitic” government.

01 July 2022

กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง



A three-week festival of open-air film screenings will take place around Bangkok later this month. The event, กรุงเทพ กลางแปลง (‘Bangkok open air’), is the brainchild of the city’s popular new governor, Chardchart Sittipunt, who was elected last month. (His unelected predecessor, appointed by the 2014 junta, had been in office for the past six years.)

The festival includes recent and classic films, all screening at outdoor venues between 7th and 31st July. Highlights include Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters [sic] (2499 อันธพาลครองเมือง) on 7th July at Lan Khon Mueang Square; and Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์) on 7th July at True Digital Park, and (with an introduction by director Pen-ek Ratanaruang) on 15th July at Khlong Toei Youth Center. (Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters was previously shown at an outdoor screening in 2010. Monrak Transistor had previous outdoor screenings in 2011 and 2018.)

29 June 2022

Boiled Angels:
The Trial of Mike Diana


Boiled Angels

Boiled Angel / Answer Me!

In 1994, cartoonist Mike Diana was convicted of producing and distributing obscene material, after Florida police obtained copies of his zine Boiled Angel (issues 7 and 8). Its twisted humour was certainly provocative—zine bible Factsheet Five described it as “designed to turn your stomach”—though this was precisely Diana’s intention. As he says in the excellent documentary Boiled Angels: The Trial of Mike Diana: “My goal was to make the most offensive zine ever made.”

Following the guilty verdict, Diana was denied bail. After four days in custody, he was fined $3,000 and sentenced to 1,248 hours of community service. The documentary, by horror director Frank Henenlotter, features interviews with Diana, his family, and the defence and prosecution attorneys. It’s a thorough recounting of Diana’s trial, and it also gives plenty of historical background on the Comics Code and the underground comix movement.

Diana’s case was very similar to that of Mark Laliberté, whose comic zine Headtrip (issues 1 and 2) was accused of obscenity in Canada. Laliberté and Diana had traded zines, and Laliberté’s copies of Boiled Angel were also cited in the Headtrip obscenity trial. The failure to secure a conviction in Canada perhaps made the US authorities all the more eager to prosecute Diana in Florida. (At least, that’s what Laliberté alleges in the documentary.)

Zap Comix / Nasty Tales / Meng and Ecker

Although Diana is the only artist ever convicted of obscenity in the US, there have been other prosecutions of comic art. Booksellers in New York were fined for stocking Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix (specifically the ‘family values’ parody Joe Blow in issue 4; charges against Zap’s publishers, the Print Mint, were later dropped). In a similar case in the State of Washington, booksellers were prosecuted in relation to Jim Goad’s zine Answer Me! (issue 4, with a cover illustration by Mike Diana), though they were eventually acquitted.

There have also been a handful of obscenity cases against comics in the UK. Charges against Oz magazine (issue 28) and the Nasty Tales comic (issue 1) were both related to Robert Crumb cartoons, and Crumb’s book My Troubles with Women was seized by customs in 1996. (In all three cases, the charges were eventually dropped or overturned.) David Britton was found guilty on obscenity charges relating to his novel Lord Horror and his comic Meng and Ecker (issue 1); the charge against the novel was overturned on appeal, though the conviction of the comic was upheld.

24 June 2022

Keep ’em in the East:
Kazan, Kubrick, and the Postwar New York Film Renaissance


Keep 'em in the East

Ironically, some of the greatest films from the so-called New Hollywood era (The Godfather, The French Connection, Annie Hall) were made on location in New York rather than in Los Angeles. New York City established a film commission in 1966 (the first in the country), leading to an immediate and dramatic increase in film production, which has since become known as the New York film renaissance. Richard Koszarski’s Keep ’em in the East: Kazan, Kubrick, and the Postwar New York Film Renaissance offers a revisionist history of the 1940s and ’50s New York film scene, arguing that the roots of the renaissance stretch back long before 1966.

Koszarski discusses the documentary-like police procedural thrillers filmed on the streets of New York (The House on 92nd Street, The Naked City, Boomerang!), demonstrating that, although this style evolved alongside Neo-Realism, it was not directly influenced by Italian cinema. Only one Neo-Realist film, Rome, Open City (Roma cittá aperta), had been released in the US during the peak period of the New York docu-dramas, thus their similar modes of production were largely coincidental.

The book’s final chapters alternate between the production histories of Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront and Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss, which (incredibly) were among only three films made in New York in the winter of 1953 (the other being Hansel and Gretel). Interestingly, he reveals that Killer’s Kiss (under its original title, Kiss Me, Kill Me) was censored by four minutes by the MPAA, and that a further three minutes were cut by either Kubrick or the film’s distributor, United Artists, before its theatrical release.

15 June 2022

My Own Private Idaho


My Own Private Idaho

Gus van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho opens at House Samyan in Bangkok this week. The film is an essential example of New Queer Cinema, the term coined by B. Ruby Rich to describe a wave of independent gay filmmakers in the early 1990s. It was previously shown at the (much missed) Bangkok Screening Room in 2019, as part of their LGBT+ Film Festival, and the upcoming screenings coincide with Pride Month. My Own Private Idaho will be shown at House on 17th, 18th, 19th, 24th, 25th, and 26th June.

09 June 2022

“A young man 23 years old by the name of Stanley Kubrick...”


Stanley Kubrick

The story behind the premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire has been published by the organiser of the Venice Film Festival, La Biennale di Venezia. Kubrick’s first feature was shown out of competition in Venice in 1952, after Joseph Burstyn recommended it in a letter to the event’s director, Antonio Petrucci. Burstyn assured him that the film, “made by a young man 23 years old by the name of Stanley Kubrick... could be the great surprise of your Festival.” (He neglected to mention that he was the film’s US distributor: he was lobbying Petrucci, under the guise of a friendly recommendation.)

Petrucci cabled Kubrick, declining to show the film in competition due to its “LENGTH AND CHARACTER”. (Fear and Desire is barely an hour long, and Petrucci may have felt that it didn’t qualify as feature-length.) Instead, he agreed to screen it as part of a sidebar programme, though this prompted a surprisingly indignant reply from Kubrick, who asked for further clarification: “you can well understand the state of confusion I am presently in. Is there anything you can do to shed some light on my problem?”

The correspondence between Burstyn, Petrucci, and Kubrick—posted on La Biennale di Venezia’s website yesterday—was unearthed during research for a new book by Gian Piero Brunetta (author of The History of Italian Cinema), the foremost historian of Italian film. The Venice screening of Fear and Desire, under the working title Shape of Fear, was first reported by James Fenwick in Stanley Kubrick Produces.

30 May 2022

Bai Pid


Bai Pid Tears of the Black Tiger

Bai Pid (ใบปิด), an exhibition of Thai film posters, opened at the Woof Pack building in Bangkok last week. Organised by Doc Club and Pub (the boutique cinema and bar at Woof Pack) and the Thai Film Archive (the film museum at Salaya, near Bangkok), the exhibition features more than fifty vintage Thai posters, and some of the original paintings that they were based on. Most of the works are included in a large, glossy catalogue, Thai Cinema Poster Exhibition, edited by Chonnatee Pimnam and Suparp Rimtheparthip.

Bai Pid opened on 25th May, and runs until 17th July. It includes painted reproductions of posters for classic Thai films—notably A Man Called Tone (โทน) and Monrak Lukthung (มนต์รักลูกทุ่ง)—and Thai releases of American movies, such as จอว์ส (the Thai-language title of Jaws). A painting by Banhan Thaitanaboon based on his Tropical Malady: The Book poster (unveiled at the 2018 Bangkok Art Book Fair) is also on show, and Banhan designed the Bai Pid exhibition poster.

Tone

The highlight of the exhibition is surely Somboonsuk Niyomsiri’s original painting for his Tears of the Black Tiger (ฟ้าทะลายโจร) poster, previously on display at the Film Archive’s Wisit Sasanatieng retrospective. Somboonsuk (also known as Piak Poster) directed more than two dozen films, including a A Man Called Tone, though he also had a prolific career as a poster artist. (A Man Called Tone will be screened at Doc Club and Pub on 5th June.) Wisit, director of Tears of the Black Tiger, created the posters for the 2008 and 2009 Bangkok International Film Festival.

The poster artists who emerged after Somboonsuk were either taught by him or influenced by his style. He ran his studio like a Renaissance workshop, creating posters bearing the master’s signature yet produced with the assistance of apprentice artists under his supervision. For the Monrak Lukthung poster, for example, Somboonsuk painted the two lead actors (Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat, Thai cinema’s greatest stars) while his assistants worked on the background. The poster for A Man Called Tone also bears Somboonsuk’s signature—effectively a brand logo for his studio—though it was painted entirely by Banhan.

There have only been two previous exhibitions of Thai poster art: Thai Film Posters (ใบปิดหนังไทย, 1984) in Bangok, and Eyegasm: The Art of Thai Movie Posters (2012) in Palm Springs, California. Gilbert Brownstone’s Affiches de cinéma thaï (‘Thai film posters’), published in three languages (French, English, and Thai) in 1974, was the first book on the subject. There’s a short essay on Thai film posters in Thai Cinema, and vintage posters are illustrated in Dome Sukwong’s A Century of Thai Cinema and Philip Jablon’s Thailand’s Movie Theatres.