Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Anocha and the resonance of Mundane History

Writer Philippa Short interviewed Mundane History director "Mai" Anocha Suwichakornpong for the travel website CNNGo. The piece was posted yesterday.

Here's a snip:

CNNGo: What do you think about the political situation and protests happening right now in Bangkok?

Anocha: I hope that peace and reconciliation will not become just two empty words. Both the government and the protesters should have more tolerance towards each other and value human life above all else. I’m disappointed with the stance that the government has taken. As a government, they have the power to set the agenda and negotiate with the protesters, especially now that it’s apparent that a crackdown is not the answer.

Moreover, they should allow freedom of speech by lifting the ban of websites and TV stations that are critical of their administration. Suppression is not a solution for long-lasting peace. It only breeds contempt and will prove fatal in the long run.

CNNGo: You describe the family in Mundane History as a microcosm of Thailand and the film as reflecting its ongoing political struggle. Do you think these aspects are accessible to those not familiar with Thai politics?

Anocha: Thailand is, by and large, a patriarchal society. It is men who control the power in this country, especially when it comes to politics. Right now, we are in the midst of a political crisis that has put the country on hold for the past four years.

It is true that the film had a particular resonance with audiences when it was screened in Bangkok, but although some of the nuances might escape those not familiar with Thai politics, I think that there are other themes in the film that have universal appeal. You can have no knowledge of Thai politics and still come away with something to think about after the film ends.

Read the rest for details about the film's fragmented narrative, the soundtrack that includes music by the Photo Sticker Machine and Malaysia's Furniture and that masturbation scene in the bathtub.

Mundane History (Jao Nok Krajok) is currently on the festival circuit, in competition at the Singapore International Film Festival, which ends Saturday, the Open Doek Film Festival in Belgium from Friday, April 23 to May 2, and at the Barcelona Asian Film Festival, April 30 to May 9.

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