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Monday, October 12, 2009
From Pusan: Mundane History and New New Thai Cinema
The good news from the 14th Pusan International Film Festival is not the absence of monsoon shower or the fact that, so far, no one was actually dead or injured from the late, late, late night epic drinking sessions that have made this Korean port city legendary among visiting delegates, who’re ready to testify that the day in Pusan is short and the night is so very long.
No. The good news is this: Anocha Suwichakornpong’s “Jao Nok Krajok”, (English title: “Mundane History”), which is competing here in the New Currents section, is manifestly the most ambitious feature debut from a Thai filmmaker in years. The even better news is that, given that our new ratings system actually works and no primitive censorship impulses make their return from the constitutional grave, “Mundane History” will have its Thailand premier at the World Film Festival of Bangkok on Nov 6 at Paragon Cineplex.
I’ll write more about the film in the paper. But briefly, Anocha’s seemingly ordinary, astutely structured family drama is a movie with a cosmic aspiration: The story of a paralyzed son, his elusive father, and the male nurse hired to take care of the wheelchair-bound patient, slowly morphs and loops into a discussion of the human condition and the helplessness that every person – every civilisation – must face as a part of our evolutionary cycle. This human condition is biological, social, political and even astronomical; the film contains shots captured from the yellow-shirt demonstrations, as well as a shot of full-frontal nudity of the main character, both entirely relevant to the grand narrative of Anocha’s script.
To venture a little further, Anocha’s film is also confirming the arrival of the New New Thai Cinema, alongside talents like Aditya Assarat, who has two short filmsin Pusan, Chukiat Sakweerakul, Kongdej Jaturanrasmee and Uruphong Raksasat. Though disparate in style and interest, these young filmmakers are enriching the possibility of our cinematic expression, in many cases with a strong socio-political consciousness.
The Pusan Film Festival ends on Friday, Oct 16, and hopefully when the awards are announced there will be more good news for me to share with you.
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