Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bodily Fluid Is Revolutionary: Thai queer shorts in New York City

MIX 24, the 24th MIX New York Queer Experimental Film Festival includes a line-up of shorts from Thailand that question "the legitimacy of Thai gender norms and Asian noe-imperialisms".

The program. called Bodily Fluid Is Revolutionary, showcases the recent work of Thai media artists who push the boundaries of sexual and political expression. The films are by such well-known names as Michael Shaowanasai, Thunska Pansittivorakul and Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, all of whom have been censored or banned by the Ministry of Culture for their debasement of Thai values. Additionally, there will be younger artists Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, Chama Lekpla, and Korn Kanogkekarin, "who gleefully carry on the queer tradition despite the climate of political unrest and social turmoil."

Curators are Dredge Kang, Nguyễn Tân Hoàng and Arnika Fuhrmann. They've taken their program name from the title of one of Ratchapoom's films.

Here's the program:

  • Ma Vie Incomplète et Inachevée (Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, 2007, 4 min., US premiere) – Grandmother desperately wants her granddaughter to appease her sexual need with her little tongue, but her desire won’t be easily satisfied as her own son’s, the girls’ father, also wants his daughter for the same purpose.
  • X (Korn Kanogkekarin, 2010, 5 min., US premiere) – X for symmetry. X for chromosome. X for erasure. X marks the spot.
  • After Shock (Wan Fa Suai [The day the sky was beautiful], Thunska Pansittivorakul, 2005, 12 min., NY premiere) – A silent foray across the skies, the streets, an amusement park, and the commercial areas of a small town ultimately takes us to the ocean. Across the water, we close in on a young man’s crotch. The film culminates in blood and semen.
  • Observation of the Monument (Michael Shaowanasai, 2008, 3 min., US premiere) – The viewer is positioned in the crowd, directed to look up at the one who is placed on the pedestal.
  • I’m Fine (Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, 2008, 3 min., US premiere) – The director/actor sits in a cage on a hot sunny day in front of Democracy Monument in Bangkok. She’s used to it; she’s doing fine.
  • Essence de Femme (Chama Lekpla, 2011, 16 min., US premiere) – What would it look like if humanity had no gender? A kathoey noi (baby tranny) shows us how to cook international chicken curry (curry is slang for prostitute in Thai). People have sex with places, the locations they inhabit. A girly boy and a girly girl play snooker and then get dirty. These three scenarios propose new modes of sexuality and relationality.
  • Look at Me! (Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, 2007, 5 min., B&W, US premiere) – On a stormy night, we catch glimpses of each other.
  • Don't Forget Me (Manatsak Dorkmai, 2003, 10 min., US premiere) – Archival footage of the October 6, 1976 massacre of pro-democracy student protestors in Bangkok is juxtaposed with a Siam Society visit to the Yellow Banana Leaf Ghosts tribe.
  • Burmese Man Dancing (Nok Paksnavin, 2008, 8 min., US premiere) – Images of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand are overlaid with Thai commentary about them. Subtitles are provided in an invented language.
  • Middle-Earth (Thunska Pansittivorakul, 2007, 8 min., US premiere) – “To show naked men is forbidden in Thailand, but the fact that we did show it on a big screen is a statement. It is my political expression. To just show it, without saying anything more, already means something. The authorities ban films for the silliest reasons, so here it is.”

The fest, running November 15 to 20 is at MIX Factory, 45 Bleecker Street. The Thai program is on November 29. Find out more at the Facebook event page.

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