Pawat Panangkasiri, the director of In the Shadow of the Naga (Nak Prok), has hopes that his film might someday be screened in Thailand, despite the Buddhism-related taboos it breaks.
In the Shadow of the Naga was announced last week as one of the Asian titles in the Contemporary World Cinema program at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The crime drama involves three robbers who hide their loot on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, and when they return to retrieve it, they find a monastery has been built on the spot. So they become ordained as monks as they figure out a way to get their buried treasure. The stars are Somchai Khemklad (Killer Tattoo, Ray MacDonald (Fun Bar Karaoke) and Pitisak Yaowananon (Ai-Fak).
With the main theme described as "monks with guns", Nak Prok was completed last year and has since been sitting unreleased on the shelf at Sahamongkol Film International, where executives are fearful of stirring up a controversy with Thailand's Buddhist institutions, according to a story by Parinyaporn Pajee in today's Daily Xpress.
In an interview, Pawat says his film shows Buddhism in a positive light. Here's his quote:
My intention is to question why we feel we have to cover up bad things that happen in the monkhood. If we don’t fix them, surely we are leaving our religion open to exploitation.”
Since completing Nak Prok, Pawat made his sophomore feature, Orahan Summer, a comedy about bratty boys spending their school vacation as novice monks. It was released earlier this year by AG Entertainment.
And he’s re-edited Nak Prok and organized private screenings for friends and monks. “Their reaction was good. They understand my intention,” Pawat told the Daily Xpress.
(Cannes Film Market promotional image via Twitch)