08 December 2022

Lawrence of Arabia


lawrenceofarabia

Bangkok’s Prince Theatre hotel will screen the classic Hollywood epic Lawrence of Arabia on 10th December. It was previously shown at the Prince Theatre in 2020, and has played at various other Bangkok cinemas over the last decade: at Cinema Winehouse in 2015 and 2018, the Scala cinema in 2016, and Bangkok Screening Room in 2017

The Prince Theatre was established as a cinema in 1917, and was converted into a film-themed hotel a year after its centenary, in 2018. The cinema screen has been retained, though the auditorium is now the hotel bar.

06 December 2022

The Passion of Joan of Arc


The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’Arc) will be shown at Doc Club and Pub this month. The boutique Bangkok cinema will be screening Carl Dreyer’s silent classic on 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 20th, 23rd December, and Christmas Day this year; and 2nd, 12th, 18th, 24th and 30th January next year. (Jean Rouch’s documentary Chronicle of a Summer/Chronique d’un été is also showing this month at the same venue.)

The Passion of Joan of Arc has been shown numerous times in Bangkok over the past decade: an open-air screening in 2018 at Bangkok Underground Cinema, a gala Silent Film Festival screening at the Scala cinema, at Jam Ciné Club, and a 2012 Design Nation open-air screening. It was also shown at Bangkok Screening Room (which established the cinema space now occupied by Doc Club) in 2020.

02 December 2022

No God No King Only Human



No God No King Only Human, edited and published by Korn Karava, was launched at the 2022 Bangkok Art Book Fair last week. Limited to 500 numbered copies (mine being no. 340), it features photographs of anti-government, pro-reform protests taken over the past two years.

Visually speaking, the protests are inherently photogenic, with swirling tear gas deployed by riot police and fireworks used as projectiles by demonstrators. (Nontawat Numbenchapol’s Thalugaz documentary Rarely Make History includes equally spectacular imagery.) But, as the book reminds us, this is the aesthetics of violence, and other photographs document the impact of rubber bullets fired by the police.

There have been other books with photographs of the protests, such as There’s Always Spring (เมื่อถึงเวลาดอกไม้จะบาน), EBB, and #WhatsHappeningInThailand, all of which are small, slim paperbacks. No God No King Only Human, on the other hand, is a lavish coffee-table book. (It’s the first in a potential series of volumes on the protest movement.)

The title is a slogan adapted from the video game BioShock. (Appropriating popular culture is a notable aspect of the demonstrations, from the three-finger salute taken from The Hunger Games to the Bottom Blues song 12345 I Love You.) The title of Elevenfinger’s CD No God No King Only Humans is based on the same slogan.

The Greatest Films of All Time


Sight and Sound

Sight and Sound magazine has announced the results of its 2022 critics’ and directors’ polls, The Greatest Films of All Time. There have been dozens of similar polls, based on votes by either critics or the public—Dateline Bangkok has featured every greatest-film list published since 2005—though Sight and Sound’s list is the first and most authoritative of them all. The magazine compiled its original list in 1952, with Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) being the inaugural winner. For fifty years, starting in 1962, Citizen Kane was in first place, until it was overtaken by Vertigo in 2012.

This year’s result is much more surprising, with Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the top of the new list. As Laura Mulvey writes in the magazine’s latest issue (vol. 33, no. 1), “Vertigo had been gradually closing in on Citizen Kane for decades; Jeanne Dielman has appeared from nowhere.” 2001: A Space Odyssey came first in the directors’ poll, replacing Tokyo Story (東京物語), and the full results of both polls are included in the new issue of the magazine.

Sight and Sound

The Sight and Sound critics’ top ten is as follows:

1. Jeanne Dielman
2. Vertigo
3. Citizen Kane
4. Tokyo Story
5. In the Mood for Love
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Beau travail
8. Mulholland Drive
9. Man with a Movie Camera
10. Singin’ in the Rain

29 November 2022

Mob Type —
บันทึกการต่อสู้ของประชาชน ผ่านศิลปะตัวอักษร


Mob Type 33712

The design collective PrachathipaType—a pun on prachathipatai, the Thai word for ‘democracy’—specialises in pro-democracy typefaces. Working with some of the organsiations leading the recent anti-government protests, they have effectively created the visual identity of the reform movement. The new book Mob Type – บันทึกการต่อสู้ของประชาชน ผ่านศิลปะตัวอักษร (‘recording the people’s struggle through the art of lettering’) is a collection of these type specimens and logos, and it was launched at the 2022 Bangkok Art Book Fair (which ran from 25th–27th November at Bangkok CityCity Gallery).

PrachathipaType designed a new font, PrachathipaTape (ประชาธิปะเทป), for Rap Against Dictatorship’s music video Homeland (บ้านเกิดเมืองนอน). They also collaborated with the band on แบบเรียนพยัญชนะไทย (‘Thai consonant textbook’). Their 33712 typeface (named after the 33.712 billion baht allocated for the monarchy in the national budget) was used to recreate a notice from a leaked photograph published by the German newspaper Bild (‘picture’) in 2019. The 33712 typeface also appears in Rap Against Dictatorship’s music video Budget (งบประมาณ).

Patani Colonial Territory


Patani Colonial Territory Patani Colonial Territory

Thai police yesterday raided a coffee shop in Yala province and seized sets of a new card game, Patani Colonial Territory. The officers arrived at the cafe, in Bannang Sata market, at 5pm. The owner initially refused to cooperate with them, as a search warrant had not been obtained, though after several hours of questioning at the local police station, the game was confiscated pending an investigation.

The game was designed as an educational tool, to provoke discussion about the contested history of the Patani region. (‘Patani’ refers to a formerly independent Malay Muslim sultanate that is now part of Thailand. Therefore, beyond the southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat—which comprise the Patani region—‘Patani’ is regarded as a controversial, politicised term with separatist connotations.)

Patani Colonial Territory was produced by the game company Chachiluk in collaboration with the book publisher KOPI, funded by the Progressive Movement’s Common School project. Fifty sets of the game (each of which is a pack of fifty-two cards) have been distributed as part of a soft launch, with plans for a more widespread release in a few months’ time. The game has been criticised by the royalist Thai Pakdee Party whose leader, Warong Dechgitvigrom, lodged a complaint against it at the Ministry of Interior yesterday.

The Patani region was represented by a major exhibition in 2017, Patani Semasa (ปาตานี ร่วมสมัย), though the organisers considered it too sensitive to release an exhibition catalogue at the time. (It was eventually published in Malaysia when the exhibition transferred there in 2019.) Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh’s art also deals with Patani politics and society, and a monograph of his work, The Patani Art of Struggle (ศิลปะปาตานี วิถีแห่งการดิ้นรน), was published in 2020.

28 November 2022

There’s Always Spring



There’s Always Spring (เมื่อถึงเวลาดอกไม้จะบาน), published last month by Mob Data Thailand, provides a record of the current anti-government protest movement. Mob Data Thailand collates details of all rallies held throughout the country, and the book highlights the major demonstrations that have taken place over the last two years.

There’s Always Spring is particularly valuable as a record of the origins of the protest movement, which was triggered by the dissolution of the Future Forward Party in February 2020. This is in contrast to other books on the protests, namely EBB and #WhatsHappeningInThailand, which focus only on the period from mid-2020 onwards.

What all three books have in common are their optimistic titles. There’s Always Spring suggests that the winter of repression is coming to an end. (Its epilogue, Winter Never Lasts Forever/ไม่มีอะไรคงอยู่ตลอดไป, states this more directly.) Similarly, EBB refers to ‘ebb and flow’ (the sense that receding waves, like persecuted protesters, will eventually return), and #WhatsHappeningInThailand’s subtitle is และแล้วความหวังก็ปรากฏ (‘and then hope appeared’).

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, and on 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th December, and Boxing Day; and 9th January 2022. 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.

24 November 2022

A Message from Ukraine:
Speeches, 2019–2022


A Message from Ukraine

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky has recorded daily video addresses to his people and delivered more than 100 speeches to international forums. A Message from Ukraine: Speeches, 2019–2022, an authorised anthology sold to raise money for the war effort, reprints sixteen of his speeches in translation, beginning with his inaugural parliamentary address after his landslide election victory in 2019.

Whichever country he addresses as he pleads for military support, Zelensky—or rather, his chief speechwriter, Dmytro Lytvyn—tailors his message to suit his audience. So, he quoted Winston Churchill to the British parliament and Martin Luther King to the US Congress. His historical analogies are also tailor-made. Speaking to the German Bundestag, he compared Russia’s gas pipline to the Berlin Wall; addressing the Israeli Knesset, he cited Russian propaganda that evoked the Holocaust.

In his introduction to the book, Zelensky describes his message as “abrupt, intense, jarring.” The contrast with his former career, as a comedy actor, couldn’t be more stark. (Life imitated art, after he played an unlikely president in his sitcom Servant of the People/Слуга народу.) Of course, he writes with optimistic fervour about victory over Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling A Message from Ukraine “a book about how we can build the future.”

22 November 2022

“What can’t be fixed is the mental illness of the prime minister...”


Ehud Olmert

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and winner of the country’s 1st November election, has won his defamation case against another former PM, Ehud Olmert. Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court yesterday awarded Netanyahu 62,000 shekels ($17,850) in compensation, though this was less than 10% of the 837,000 shekels he had sued for.

In an interview with Gadi Sukenik on the show המהדורה המרכזית (‘the main edition’), Olmert said that Netanyahu was mentally ill: “What can’t be fixed is the mental illness of the prime minister and his wife and son.” The interview was broadcast by Democrat TV on 12th April last year. In a second interview nine days later, on Keshet 12’s Ofira and Berkovich (אופירה וברקוביץ') show, he refused to retract the claim and scoffed at the prospect of being sued by Netanyahu.

19 November 2022

APEC 2022


Giant Swing

The regional APEC summit is currently taking place in Bangkok, and anti-government protesters yesterday held a demonstration near Democracy Monument. They also beheaded Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in effigy with a cardboard guillotine attached to the Giant Swing. (The stunt was photographed by Prachatai and filmed by Khaosod English.)

Riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, one of whom was blinded in one eye after being hit by a rubber bullet at close range. (Similarly, Tanat Thanakitamnuay was also blinded after being hit by a rubber bullet at a protest last year.) This was the first use of rubber bullets by riot police since June.

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.

14 November 2022

Bangkok Art Biennale 2022:
Chaos:Calm


Bangkok Art Biennale 2022

After Beyond Bliss (สุขสะพรั่ง พลังอาร์ต) in 2018 and Escape Routes (ศิลป์สร้าง ทางสุข) in 2020, the third Bangkok Art Biennale’s theme is Chaos:Calm (โกลาหล:สงบสุข). As in previous years, the Biennale (บางกอก อาร์ต เบียนนาเล่) is being held at multiple venues around the city, from galleries to temples. The event opened on 22nd October, and runs until 23rd February next year.

A video installation by Wantanee Siripattananantakul, The Web of Time, is one of the highlights of the 200 artworks on display. The half-hour, two-channel video, on show at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC), comprises three short films linking human history and the natural world. As the Biennale catalogue explains, in one segment an African grey parrot “becomes like a medium casting a watchful eye on the events happening in the world.” The parrot and its silhouette observe news footage of recent protests, including a report by BBC correspondent Jonathan Head on anti-government demonstrations in Siam Square.

Andres Serrano was one of the featured artists in 2020, and this year’s event includes another controversial American photographer: Robert Mapplethorpe. A handful of Mapplethorpe’s portraits—though not his more explict works, of course—are on display in a self-contained gallery within the QSNCC exhibition. Works by the provocative British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman are on show in a similar space: etchings and meticulous miniature dioramas that continue their career-long fascination with Francisco Goya’s The Disasters of War (Los desastres de la guerra).

11 November 2022

Confidence Man:
The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America


Confidence Man

Dozens of books have been written about Donald Trump. Seventeen of them have been reviewed on Dateline Bangkok: Fire and Fury, Too Much and Never Enough, Fear, Rage, Peril, I Alone Can Fix It, A Very Stable Genius, Inside Trump’s White House, The United States of Trump, Trump’s Enemies, The Trump White House, The Room Where It Happened, Team of Five, American Carnage, TrumpNation, and The Cost. Maggie Haberman’s Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America was the most eagerly anticipated of them all, and is likely to be one of the few Trump titles that stand the test of time.

Confidence Man, like post-Trump America, is split in two. Trump’s presidency is covered in the second half, while the first explores his formative influences. An early memory—of an engineer being ignored at the opening of a bridge he designed—led to perhaps the closest thing to a Trump doctrine: “I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” This event, recalled by Trump in a 1980 interview, is doubly revealing. Firstly, it was being made a “sucker”, roasted by President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, that fuelled his presidential ambitions. Also, almost every detail of Trump’s bridge anecdote was inaccurate, showing him to be “an unreliable narrator of his own history from its early moments.”

Haberman has covered Trump since his days as a New York tabloid mainstay in the 1990s. Throughout his presidency, writing for The New York Times, she was the best-sourced White House correspondent, and her reputation elevates Confidence Man above previous Trump books. (For comparison, Haberman’s coverage of Trump is as authoritative as that of UK political journalists Tim Shipman on Brexit and Andrew Rawnsley on New Labour.) The book’s scoops include the first direct confirmation that Trump contemplated refusing to vacate the White House: “He informed aides he had no intention of departing the White House for Biden. “I'm just not going to leave,” he told one.”

Trump’s term of office was so extraordinary—Haberman describes him as “unlike any president in American history”—that one book can barely do it justice. Numerous major incidents, that deserve their own chapters, are mentioned only in passing. The Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example (during which “senior Trump aides said they felt physically sick”), is relegated to a single paragraph. So Bob Woodward’s trilogy (Fear, Rage, and Peril) is a more comprehensive account of the Trump presidency, but Confidence Man is the definitive Trump biography.

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 online 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 online this evening. A soldier rummages through an old man’s meagre possessions in this dialogue-free, black-and-white film. The man watches impassively, apparently oblivious to the trespassing soldier, and spends his time sleeping and swimming, which symbolise freedom for the director. Although the drama is allegorical, 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 online 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. (It will also be shown at the Film Archive on 17th December.)

On 22nd November there will be online 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. Similarly, Sumeth Suwanneth’s documentary Lost, and Life Goes On (เลือนแต่ไม่ลืม), commemorating the 1992 ‘Black May’ massacre, will be shown online on 30th November. (It will also be screened at the Film Archive on 18th December.)

07 November 2022

King Protection Group


Amarat Chokepamitkul

A royalist pressure group has filed lèse-majesté charges against Move Forward MP Amarat Chokepamitkul. She spoke in parliament on 2nd November about the Criminal Court’s reluctance to issue summonses for royal travel and financial documents, thus preventing them from being admitted as exculpatory evidence in lèse-majesté trials. Her statement was cut short by Chuan Leekpai, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Amarat shared an online video of her speech from Matichon, which the King Protection Group submitted to police the next day. (Their complaint seemingly disregards an MP’s right of parliamentary privilege.) Last month, the same pressure group filed charges against the rapper P9D, alleging that his song Kuay Rai A (ควยไรอะ) violated the lèse-majesté law.

06 November 2022

อีกไม่นาน นานแค่ไหน



Two Thai bands, Getsunova and Three Men Down, collaborated on the single อีกไม่นาน นานแค่ไหน (‘how long is ‘soon’?’), released this time last year. The title is a despairing reply to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s lyric “ขอเวลาอีกไม่นาน” (‘give us a little more time’) from his propaganda song Returning Happiness to the Thai Kingdom (คืนความสุขให้ประเทศไทย). Prayut’s song promised that his junta would not outstay its welcome; the bands’ response is: after all these years, how much longer will it be?

Like Paeng Surachet’s กล้ามาก เก่งมาก ขอบใจ (‘very brave, very good, thank you’), อีกไม่นาน นานแค่ไหน uses heartbreak as a political metaphor. Paeng’s song is about splitting up with an unfaithful partner, though it could also be read as a statement of the singer’s feelings about the monarchy. Similarly, อีกไม่นาน นานแค่ไหน describes the agony of waiting for a girlfriend to change her wayward behaviour, just as Thailand waits in vain for Prayut to improve the country:

“เธอขอเวลาปรับปรุงตัวเองข้อเสียทุกอย่าง
แค่ขอเวลาไม่นาน
เธอสัญญา เธอสัญญา จะทำตามอย่างว่ามา
ฉันก็รอ ฉันก็รอ อดทนอย่างไม่ท้อ
ยอมให้โอกาส ปล่อยเธอทำผิดซ้ำๆ
ให้ฉันต้องเจ็บและช้ำจนใจมันเริ่มหมดหวัง
เพราะผ่านมานานแสนนาน”

(‘she asked for time to improve herself
only asked for a short time
she promised she’d do as she said
I waited patiently without giving up
I let her make the same mistakes over and over
it hurts so much and my heart’s lost all hope
because a long time has passed’).

In the อีกไม่นาน นานแค่ไหน music video, three young children present their progressive ideas to improve Thai society, only to be dismissed by their conservative teachers. The three kids look remarkably like younger versions of anti-government protest leaders Panusaya Sithjirawattanakul, Parit Chirawak, and Arnon Nampa: could the video be an origin story for the protest movement? A schoolchild’s progressive policy ideas dismissed by an authoritarian teacher was also the central theme of Duangporn Pakavirojkul’s short film Demockrazy (ประชาทิปตาย).

31 October 2022

TrumpNation:
The Art of Being the Donald


TrumpNation

Timothy L. O’Brien’s book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald was first published in 2005, when Donald Trump’s self-cultivated public image was that of a billionaire real-estate developer. Citing three anonymous sources, O’Brien claimed that Trump was worth, at most, a quarter of a billion dollars, writing (on p. 154): “Three people with direct knowledge of Donald’s finances... told me that they thought his net worth was somewhere between $150 million and $250 million. By anyone’s standards this still qualified Donald as comfortably wealthy, but none of these people thought he was remotely close to being a billionaire.”

Trump sued O’Brien and the publisher, Warner Books, for defamation, seeking an astronomical and absurdly unrealistic $5 billion in damages. In his deposition, he made the audacious claim that his net worth “goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” a remark that has since been widely quoted. The case was dismissed not because Trump proved his billionaire status—he didn’t—but because O’Brien proved that his estimate of Trump’s net worth had not been malicious. (The book is written in a tabloid style—with spoof trivia quizzes, for example—though it’s based on interviews with Trump and access to Trump Organization records.)

Trump later sued Michael Wolff to prevent the publication of Fire and Fury and his brother sued their niece, Mary Trump, to block the release of Too Much and Never Enough. In both cases, the lawsuits backfired, as the publication dates were brought forward. He withdrew a lawsuit against comedian Bill Maher, who had joked that he was the son of an orangutan, and his new $475 million lawsuit against CNN is equally unrealistic. On the other hand, Trump’s wife, Melania, has had more success as a libel litigant, winning $3 million from the Daily Mail and undisclosed “substantial damages” from The Daily Telegraph.

TrumpNation was reprinted with a new introduction in 2016, when Trump won the Republican presidential nomination. It’s the sixteenth Trump book reviewed on Dateline Bangkok, the others being Fire and Fury, Too Much and Never Enough, Fear, Rage, Peril, I Alone Can Fix It, A Very Stable Genius, Inside Trump’s White House, The United States of Trump, Trump’s Enemies, The Trump White House, The Room Where It Happened, Team of Five, American Carnage, and The Cost

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.)

22 October 2022

สมุดระบายสีเสรีภาพ



สมุดระบายสีเสรีภาพ (‘freedom colouring book’), written by Suwicha and illustrated by PHAR (both of which are pen names), isn’t a regular children’s colouring book. It was released this month by the band The Commoner, and it introduces young children to Thai politics, with illustrations of anthropomorphised animals representing anti-government protesters.

The concept is presumably modelled on the set of children’s picture books released last year by Family Club (and the additional new titles from the Mirror Foundation), which also present progressive political issues in a child-friendly way. สมุดระบายสีเสรีภาพ is especially similar to The Adventures of Little Duck (เป็ดน้อย) from that series, and both books show water cannon being deployed against the protesters.

As สมุดระบายสีเสรีภาพ is a colouring book, its illustrations are all black-and-white line drawings. The exception is the cover, with its symbolic colour scheme: an elephant character (seen elsewhere in the book driving a tank and squirting water at the protesters) is painted blue, and numerous prostrate onlookers are all yellow. (Both colours have political significance in Thailand.)