Unreal Forest, Jakrawal Nilthamrong's experimental documentary made as part of the International Film Festival Rotterdam's Forget Africa program makes its Thai premiere at 6.30 tonight as part of the Digital Forum of the 14th Thai Short Film & Video Festival at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.
And Jakrawal expands on his concepts with the Unreal Forest video installation, photos and drawings from September 8 to 29 at the Numthong Gallery on the fourth floor of the BACC.
Here's the synopsis for the feature film:
Deep in the middle of an African forest, Tamaya, a shaman who can connect to the dark side, is paddling on a canoe across a big river, heading towards an unknown land. His body is covered in white powder – the one used in holy rites. At the shore, Lunggeaw, a 60-year-old man is waiting for him. They head towards a small village where Lunggeaw’s son was lying sick from a mysterious illness.
Tamaya promises the old man to find a way to cure his son. He covers the white magic powder on the sick boy’s body, and takes him into the woods.
A ritual is performed in the middle of the forest to evoke the powerful spirits. But Tamaya finds out his is not able to cure the boy from his fatal illness. He tells Lunggeaw the boy has death awaiting him, but that the spirits in the woods reveals that the boy’s soul belongs to a great waterfall, and so they need to transport him there so his spirit could return to see his father again in a different form.
The above is a story within a documentary-style film, which shows Zambian independent filmmakers working hard to finish a film under severe limitations in terms of filmmaking resources as well as their own cinematic expertise. They have to make this film from the story written by Thai filmmakers – a process set up by Dutch project initiators, looking to discover new cinematic gems from Africa.
Through the process of the filmmaking, the ancient folklores and Zambian filmmakers’ struggle are taking the viewers on a journey, tracing back to the historical roots connecting Africa and Asia in a never-before imagined way.
Produced by Extra Virgin, Unreal Forest has previously played in Rotterdam, Milan and Singapore. A trailer was posted back in March.