The ghost legend of Mae Nak of Phra Khanong has often been told on film -- the most celebrated by Nonzee Nimibutr in 1999's Nang Nak, as well as British director Mark Duffield's Ghost of Mae Nak and most recently in the cartoon feature Nak.
But there's also Mae Nak, a 1998 short film by Pimpaka Towira, her directorial debut, which told the legend from the viewpoint of the ghost, rather from the perspective of terrorized villagers, scared of the vengeful spirit of the woman who died in childbirth. The film won a Special Jury Prize from the Image Forum Festival in Japan. Pimpaka would then go on to work as a film critic at The Nation, program an early edition of the Bangkok Film Festival and then make her feature-film debut with One Night Husband in 2003. Her most recent film, 2007's The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong is on the festival circuit. And she's recently been busy programming the Bangkok International Film Festival and starting up Extra Virgin, an indie production and distribution company. Kong Rithdee recently caught up with Pimpaka for an article in the Bangkok Post's Muse magazine (cache).
I think it's pretty rare that Pimpaka's Mae Nak gets exhibited, but it will be shown along with Nonzee Nimibutr's version in a program at the University of California Riverside called "The Supernatural in Southeast Asian Studies". Capturing the spirit of Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and All Souls Day, the program runs from October 31 to November 2, and features film screenings, discussions and lectures by scholars in the fields of women’s studies, film and media studies, Southeast Asian studies and religious studies.
Nang Nak screens on Halloween night, October 31, and Mae Nak will be shown the next morning, followed by a discussion with Pimpaka.
Other films will be When the Tenth Month Comes by Dang Nhat Minh (recently picked for CNN's list of Best Asian Films of All Time) and Friends in High Places, a documentary by Lindsey Merrison about Burmese nat worship.
(Via Media Newswire)