Posts Tagged ‘Thai cinema’

Die Tomorrow (2017) ****

Dir.: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit; Documentary/Fiction; Thailand 2017, 75 min.

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit (Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy) has turned her attention toward the big taboo: death.

It may surprise you to learn that two people die every second on this planet. And by the time this languid hybrid essay is over, 8442 people will no longer be with us. Her candid unsentimental approach seeks to normalise death as completely natural event. After all, it will happen to all of us. As Pink Floyd said: “I’m not afraid of dying, any time will do”. What we fear is pain and suffering. But Thamrongrattanarit assures us not to be afraid and soft piano music accompanies her gently lit filmic musings.

Nawapol intercuts her film with drole statistical interludes and documentary footage that informs six vignettes, each shot in a single unbroken take and filmed in 1:1 aspect ratio. These are based on real life cases reported in the Thai press. This is all intended to show how banal our lives can be – just hours away from the end. Even more dramatic is the suicide of a young man, who takes his own life – unbeknownst to his girlfriend who is talking to friend on her mobile about where they should go and have dinner. Fate is fickle and we can never be certain of when our time will be up. This is cleverly illustrated in the case of a young women, waiting in hospital for a heart transplant. “I’ll die before you,” she says, but then finds out he has booked a ticket on that fateful Malaysia Airlines flight that leaves the same afternoon. Another interviewee – a young schoolboy – claims to have been reassured about death after reading the internet site Reddit. We don’t actually see anyone die during the film. The closest we come to it are TV clips from the Challenger shuttle. 

What seems to interest Nawapol is the way one person’s death may affect their friends or loved ones. Die Tomorrow’s most poignant interviewee is a man nearing the age of 102 whose wife and children have already died. More recent footage sees him celebrate his 104th birthday. And one young school boy interviewed claims to have been reassured about his eventual after reading up on the subject in Reddit.

Thamrongrattanarit wanted to achieve calmness, “to give the audience the space and time to look thoughtfully at it”. She has certainly succeeded in making death just another process in life this thoughtful essay contemplation about how to take life seriously, and live it to the full – and above all to see death as another stage in our existence.  




Artes Mundi 8 Award | National Museum Cardiff

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM in Cardiff is playing host to the UK’s largest international art prize Artes Mundi. From the 26 October until 24 February 2019 the exhibition showcases the five finalists competing for this coveted award.

Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul has joined the list with his latest work INVISIBILITY, a short film melding cinema with contemporary art and riffing on the signature themes that permeated Cemetery of Splendour (2016) and his 2006 debut Syndromes and a Century. Also short-listed for this year’s Artes Mundi award is French-Moroccan artist and filmmaker, Bouchra Khalili. Her short film Twenty-Two Hours took part in this year’s BFI London Film Festival. 

In Twenty-Two Hours, Bouchra Khalili (left) considers how celebrated French writer Jean Genet was invited by the Black Panther Party to secretly visit them in in the U.S in 1970. The film features Doug Miranda, a former prominent member of the Black Panther Party. Echoing BlacKKKlansman, the film questions how we might transmit the historical voice of resistance into the present.

This year’s selection has been distilled from over 450 entries, from 86 countries. The judging committee includes Anthony Shapland, creative director of Cardiff’s g39 gallery. Artes Mundi is a charity founded in 2002.










Apichatpong’s work deals with memory, personal politics, and social issues in his native Thailand. With over 40 films under his belt, and still only 48, he is a Cannes Film Festival regular, where he won the Palme d’Or in 2010 for his fantasy drama Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and the Jury prize for Tropical Malady in 2004. Cemetery of Splendour (2015/above) was selected to World premiere in the arthouse Un Certain Regard sidebar, and his love story Blissfully Yours won the UCR award in 2002. His surreal and enigmatic open-ended outings evoke the essence of his homeland through mysterious narratives that often remain unsolved, and are best savoured rather than explained. These fables often have a political undercurrent that we can take or leave, depending on our mood. The past and the present co-exist, and while the focus is general Thai history and folklore, the features have a universal quality exploring love and loss, tradition and the supernatural. His rich reveries explore dreams, nature, and sexuality, alongside Western perceptions of Asia. His recent outing Ten Years in Thailand (2018) is a collaboration between three of his compatriots, and premiered during this year’s Sitges – Catalonia Film Festival.

Experimental in nature, Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) is a film of captivating beauty that blends facts and fiction in a story passed from one person to another, Blissfully Yours (2002)is a languid affair that sees two illegal Burmese immigrants enjoys a leisurely afternoon at a remote rural backwater, in the politically charged location between Thailand and Myanmar). One of them is suffering from the after affects of hiding from the authorities in a septic tank. Tropical Malady (2004) sees a love affair gently blossom in the twilight zone between reality and the spirit world, and Uncle Boonmee (2010) also deals in this dreamlike world when a dying man communes with his family, past and present, roaming to the north of Thailand where spends his final days in the birthplace of his first life. Syndromes and a Century (2006) and psychic drama Cemetery of Splendour (2016) both deal with patients and their carers in a rural hospital setting in lush jungle. Bangkok and a countryside clinic is also the backdrop to the unconsummated love story Syndromes and a Century, one of  Weerasethakul’s more accessible films. Music plays a vital role in his features. More often than not, his lulling melodies and soft refrains complement the dreamlike narratives that ask us to abandon ourselves to reverie – and go with the flow. In Mekong Hotel (2012) guitar music accompanies a shifting tale of fact and fiction between a vampire and her daughter in a hotel situated by the Mekong River. Ambient sound in also a used to recreate the intensely sensuous nature of the early scenes of Syndromes and a Century. Traditional folks songs also feature in this autobiographical work that explores the director’s early days at home with his medic parents.

Moroccan-French artist Bouchra Khalili works with film, video and mixed media. Her focus is on ethnic and political minorities examining the complex relationship between the individual and the community. She is also a Professor of Contemporary Art at The Oslo National Art Academy and a founding member of La Cinematheque de Tanger, an artist-run non-profit organisation based in Tangiers, Morocco. She was the recipient of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship from Harvard University (2017-2018). Her latest film installation is Twenty-Two Hours (2018).

The three other short-listed artists are: Anna Boghiguian, Otobong Nkanga and Trevor Paglen. The prize will be awarded in January 2019.




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