Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, the katoey filmmaker
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit is a katoey - a transgender person. And the Thai pejorative "dtoot" - derived from the Dustin Hoffman film Tootsie, for a man who dresses as a woman - does not bother her.
But what Tanwarin identifies herself as first and foremost, I think, is filmmaker. And her films are good.
Tanwarin was the winner of the top-prize R.D. Pestonji Award at this year's Thai Short Film and Video Festival with her I’m Fine Sa-Bai-Dee Kah, in which she installed herself in a cage near Bangkok's Democracy Monument, making a statement about society, politics and culture that is way more profound than any of the stunts David Blaine pulls.
I missed I’m Fine Sa-Bai-Dee Kah - I hope I get to see it sometime. But I did see Tanwarin's other film in the fest, Where's My Doll?, which was part of the Inspired by R.D. Pestonji program. Out of the whole package, I enjoyed hers the most - I thought that it best captured the essence of all of Pestonji's films. Remarkably, the director had said beforehand "I have never seen Ratana's works before. However, when I read his biography and films' information, I feel connected." Where's My Doll? won a special mention in the festival.
Earlier this year one of Tanwarin's shorts, Timeless memory and everything I've done for you was screened at the 3rd Sapporo International Short Film Festival.
Last year, I saw her feature, Phone Mood, which was screened as part of the 11th Thai Short Film and Video Festival's Digital Forum. I thought it made a lot of brilliant, entertaining observations on cellphones and society.
And Tanwarin isn't strictly indie. Last year, she had a flamboyant supporting role in Taweewat Wanta's supremely wacky comedy for Sahamongkol, The Sperm, playing a member of a heavy metal band who gradually transforms into a woman throughout the course of the film.
Anyhow, I write all this as a way of pointing to an interview with Tanwarin in BK Magazine. Also, Deknang has reprinted an interview and has loads of pictures.
In the BK Magazine Q&A, the candidate for a master's degree in performing arts reveals that she also works as an acting coach for two upcoming movies: Rachen Limtrakul's 4 Romances segment Joop (Kiss) with Love of Siam heartthrob Mario Maurer, and Nak Tae Teen Raberd, Poj Arnon’s upcoming teen football comedy.