Limitless Cinema in Broken English

January 25, 2010

APICHATPONG AND HIS INFLUENCES

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 10:52 pm

These are my comments in INDIAN AUTEUR’s website:
http://www.indianauteur.com/?p=976

–Thank you very much for your kind words, Kavita.

As for your questions:

1. Sadly, I think there is no real market for short filmmakers in Thailand right now. Some of these short filmmakers make films because they are film students in universities, and they have to make films as required by the film courses they are taking. But most of the short filmmakers in my list also make films just to satisfy their needs, which I think is a very good thing. I like the fact that they make films not because they want money, good grades, awards, or an entry into the mainstream film business, but they make films just because they want to make them.

It would be great if there is a market for them, but I can’t see it happen in Thailand now.

2. I guess most filmmakers in my list use their parents’ money. But what is interesting right now is that many short filmmakers in Thailand are funded by various projects, such as a no-smoking project, a promoting-good-people project, an AIDS-awareness project, a don’t-drive-drunk project, a supporting-minorities project, or something like that. In these cases, the short filmmakers have to make films to satisfy the project owners, so most of the resulting films are good, but not extremely controversial or extremely experimental.

I also like the fact that filmmaking nowadays seems to cost less and less, so Thai short filmmakers who can fund themselves are not limited to Bangkok bourgeois people any more. Nowadays we can see more and more films made by people from upcountry. I think the digital technology really help democratizing filmmaking in Thailand.

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–I guess Apichatpong inspire a lot of Thai independent filmmakers during the past ten years. I think there may be more than 50 Thai short filmmakers who are inspired by Apichatpong in one way or another. I guess some of them dare to make experimental films after seeing Apichatpong’s films. During the past ten years, there are also a number of Thai short films which are semi-documentary, semi-fiction, semi-experimental. I think some of them are inspired by Apichatpong’s films. I think one can even write a whole book about this topic – POST-APICHATPONG THAI FILMS, because there seem to be many Thai short films which remind us of Apichatpong.

Some trivia about this “influence” topic:

1. One of the first Thai films which are influenced by Apichatpong is BLACK-AND-WHITE FILM (2001, Montree Saelo, 6 minutes). This film is inspired by WINDOWS (1999, Apichatpong). I remember that I saw BLACK-AND-WHITE FILM and liked it a lot, but I can’t remember any details about this film now.

2.Chaiwat Wiansantia said in his interview in a Thai magazine called FUSE SHOWCASE VOL. 4 that Apichatpong is one of his favorite artists, and I think Chaiwat also make semi-documentary, semi-fiction, semi-experimental, semi-poetic films like Apichatpong. Chaiwat’s films also pay attention to nature like Apichatpong’s films.

3. Attapon Pamakho said in his interview in FUSE SHOWCASE VOL.3 that the forest scene in his gay film HASAN is inspired by TROPICAL MALADY.

4. In POLITICALLY LAWYER AND NARRATIVE CINEMA (Chaloemkiat Saeyong), the name Apichatpong is mentioned. I guess Chaloemkiat’s experimental films may partly be inspired by Apichatpong, too.

5.Sivaroj Kongsakul, an interesting Thai filmmaker, talked about what he learned from Apichatpong in Fuse Magazine vol. 26 (March, 2009). He talked that once Apichatpong told him to observe how the colors of leaves were changed according to the light reflecting on the leaves. That experience makes Sivaroj understand something about Apichatpong’s perspective and nature.

6. I guess Thai filmmakers who may be partly inspired by Apichatpong include Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Tanatchai Bandasak, Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, Nok Paksnavin, and Chaisiri Jiwarangsan. Something in SLEEPING BEAUTY (Chulayarnnon) and ENDLESS RHYME (Tanatchai) reminds me of the poetic quality of Apichatpong’s films. I’m not sure about Nawapol. Some of his films are very slow and atmospheric, such as SEE and “THERE, THERE” (2005, 28 min), but maybe Nawapol is inspired more by Tsai Ming-liang than by Apichatpong.

7.The Thai censorship on SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY caused a lot of anger for Thai filmmakers, and they made a few short films to protest them.

8. Tossapol Boonsinsukh is an interesting case. After I first saw his films in 2005, I assumed that he might be inspired by Apichatpong or Sasithorn Ariyavicha, because his films are very slow and atmospheric like the films of these two artists. After that, I had a chance to talk to him, and found that he might had never seen a film by Sasithorn. He also said that his favorite filmmakers include Prabda Yoon, Pen-ek, and Takeshi Kitano!?!?!

After knowing about this, I began to see the influence of Pen-ek on some films by Tossapol. It’s hard to describe this influence in words. It’s a kind of “cute feelings” or “cool feelings” found in the early films of Pen-ek. However, though I like most films by Pen-ek, I prefer Tossapol’s films to Pen-ek’s films, because I think the feelings in Tossapol’s films are not “forced”, but some feelings in Pen-ek’s films seem “forced”.

9.Phaisit Phanphruksachat is also an interesting case. He once worked with Apichatpong in MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON. After that, he made some films which are semi-documentary, semi-fiction, semi-experimental. One might (wrongly) assume that Phaisit may be influenced by Apichatpong. But some of my friends think that this is not the case. My friends also guess that MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON may be partly inspired by Phaisit, instead of the other way around. If Apichatpong is Thai Jean-Luc Godard, Phaisit is Thai Chris Marker.

This comparison does not mean I think Apichatpong’s films are like Godard’s films. I mean Apichatpong and Phaisit are both great Thai artists who may or may not influence each other. And Phaisit may even come into the scene a bit earlier than Apichatpong. However, I still haven’t had a chance to see Phaisit’s early films such as MADANG BO SAI (1999) and KLASS AND KIANG TALKING (year unknown), which is six-hour long.

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–As for my reply to Kavita above, I also want to add that most of the filmmakers in my list might use their parents’ money to make films because they are young. I arbitrarily choose only filmmakers whom I assume are not over 30 years old in this “young” director list. As for Thai independent filmmakers who are over 30 years old, there are also a few of them who are sponsored by foreign funds, the ones you often find accompanying many film festivals around the world. But there are also a group of Thai short filmmakers who use their own money to make great films, though their films are very low-budgeted. Some of these short filmmakers work as an office employee or a pharmacist by day (I have heard a rumor that one of them work as a janitor), and make films in their spare time. Manussak Dokmai, one of my most favorite Thai filmmakers, used to make four short films which cost only 2.4 US$ (80 baht) each. He just borrowed a camera from his friend to make them. He also used to live with only 0.3 US$ (13 baht) a day and suffered a lot from hunger at that time. I guess that’s one of the reasons why he won’t waste too much money making films. Weerasak Suyala, who is a policeman, made a very weird, unique, and funny film called THE PEN (2008), which is 60-minute long, but it costs only 50 US$ to make this cult film. Somehow I can’t help feeling very passionate for these low-budgeted filmmakers. 🙂

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1 Comment »

  1. I regret that I didn’t have a chance to see THE REVENGE OF A PESTLE (SAGGABUE LANG KAN) (2009, Weerasak Suyala, 11 min), because this film was shown on the same day as Lav Diaz’s retrospective. Many people who saw this film like it very much.

    Comment by celinejulie — January 27, 2010 @ 10:39 am


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