Monday, May 4, 2009

Photo essay: Cine Bananas and Mae Nak Phra Khanong

The past couple of nights have been great for outdoor film screenings in Discovery Plaza at Siam Discovery Center.

For the Cine Bananas show that's part of the Bangkok ... Bananas!! arts festival, the National Film Archive and the Thai Film Foundation have hauled out all their toys, including lots of old movie projectors and short films.

What is it? A small projector is running at the back of this "peep show" box. When the short reel is done, you have to say if you figured out what it was they were showing.

Dubbing artists Suthichai Suthisak, Jirajitr Kanchanapangha and Thongchai Thammasorn performed the soundtrack for Mae Nak Phra Khanong, a 16mm film from 1958. The dubbers perform all the character voices and add such sound effects as gunshots, punches and water splashes.

Suthichai performed all the male roles while Jirajitr performed the female voices, including the titular ghost wife, Mae Nak.

During the reel change Thongchai Thammasorn sold patent medicines. Often, drug companies would tour the Thai countryside and give free outdoor film screenings and give a pitch for their products during the intermission.

The restored van in the background is made up to look like a drug company's movie vehicle.

A drug company showing films was depicted in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's musical comedy Monrak Transistor.

The late Preeya Rungruang starred in Mae Nak Phra Khanong. The story of the ghost wife has often been depicted on film and in Thai television series. Among the most famous films is 1999's Nang Nak by Nonzee Nimibutr. It's even been made into a cartoon.

The ghost's haunting cry of "Mak ... Mak ... Mak ...", tearfully pleading for her husband to not stop loving her, is now an audible memory.

The Cine Bananas film screenings run nightly at Discovery Plaza until May 10. Functions start at around 3.30pm, with peep shows, short animation screenings and displays of old projectors and cameras.

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