Monday, October 13, 2014

Fan Chan, Nang Nak, Monrak Transistor, Mysterious Object, Santi-Veena added to Registry

The Culture Ministry and the Thai Film Archive have added another 25 films to the National Film Heritage Registry, running from 1897's visit to Stockholm by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to 2003's smash-hit childhood drama Fan Chan and including 1953's Santi-Veena, which was thought for years to be lost.

The oldest entry, King Rama V visits Stockholm, is footage that was found last year. According to Film Archive director Dome Sukwong it is one of the two oldest surviving filmed records of Thais. The other, a 2011 Registry entry, is Rama V's visit to Berne, Switzerland, also in 1897, by Francois-Henri Lavancy-Clarke. In Sweden, pioneering cinematographer Ernest Florman captured Chulalongkorn and King Oscar II greeting each other with kisses.

Established in 2011, the film registry now numbers 100 entries. The latest additions were announced by Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat on October 4 at the Archive.

This year's listing also includes Apichatpong Weerasekthakul's debut Mysterious Object at Noon, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Monrak Transistor and Nonzee Nimibutr's Nang Nak, Oscar-submitted social-issue dramas by M.C. Chatrichalerm Yukol and Bhandit Rittakol and two films with cinematography by pioneering auteur R.D. Pestonji.

Among Pestonji's films is the 1953 drama Santi-Veena, which had been feared lost.

Sanchai Chotirosseranee, deputy archive director, said that copies of Santi-Veena were recently discovered at Gosfilmofond in Russia and at the China Film Archive. "We are now trying to do digital restoration," Sanchai says.

A romantic drama, Santi-Veena was the first Thai film to win awards overseas, grabbing four prizes at the 1954 Asia-Pacific Film Festival in Tokyo, including best cinematography for Pestonji, who was awarded a Mitchell camera. In a quirk of history, he was charged $5,000 tax for the $16,000 camera. Also, the filmmakers were fined 1,000 baht by Thai authorities for failing to clear the film with censors before exhibiting it overseas. The camera is now the centerpiece of an exhibit with a wax figure of Pestonji at the archive's Thai Film Museum.

In the following list, Sanchai adds information about some of the lesser-known entries.

2014 Registry of Films as National Heritage

  1. King Rama V visits Stockholm, (ร. ๕ เสด็จประพาสกรุงสต็อกโฮล์ม ), 1897 – Cinematographer Ernest Florman filmed the meeting of Chulalongkorn and Sweden's King Oscar II. 
  2. Siamese Society, 1920 – A record of Siamese tradition and culture by noted travelogue maker Burton Holmes. 
  3. King Rama VII Visits Indochine (เสด็จอินโดจีน พ.ศ. ๒๔๗๓ ), 1930 – The film is also the first football match between the Siamese national side and Saigon's team.
  4. Sound Patch Work, 1930 – Introduces the first Thai radio station in Phaya Thai Palace.
  5. Past Pattani (ปัตตานีในอดีต ), 1936 – Depicts tourist attractions, the constitution ceremony and a boxing match between famous fighters Saman and Sompong. 
  6. Handful of Rice (ข้าวกํามือเดียว), 1940 – A Swedish filmmaking team was invited by high-society northerners. Shot in Chiang Mai, it shows the importance of Thai rice.
  7. Pry Ta Khean (พรายตะเคียน ), 1940 – The oldest surviving Thai ghost film includes many comic gags that are used in Thai horror comedies to this day.
  8. The Birthday Ceremony of Major General Luang Piboon Songkarm, the Prime Minister at The Parliament at Suan Kulap Palace (งานวันชาตะ นายพลตรีหลวงพิบูลสงคราม นายกรัฐมนตรี ณ ทําเนียบ วังสวนกุหลาบ ), 1941 
  9. Brother (พี่ชาย ), 1951 – Adapted from a stage play, the film starred many important Thai actors.
  10. Jumruen–Jimmy (จําเริญ -จิมมี่ , 1953 – World-champion boxer Jimmy arrives in Bangkok to face his opponent Jumruen.
  11. Santi–Veena (สันติ -วีณา , 1953 – Directed by Tawee "Kru Marut" na Bangchang with a screenplay by Vichit Kounavudhi and cinematography by R.D. Pestonji, it won three prizes at the 1954 Asia Pacific Film Festival in Tokyo, the first Thai film to be awarded overseas.
  12. Forever Yours (ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย, Chua Fah Din Salai), 1954 – Kru Marut with cinematographer R.D. Pestonji directed this adaptation of Malai Choopiniji's novel about adulterous young lovers chained together. 
  13. Poor Millionaire (เศรษฐีอนาถา ), 1956 – The winning Best Thai Film of the first national film awards in 1957.
  14. Envy Love (รักริษยา, Rak Ritsaya), 1957 – A romantic drama starring 1954 Miss Thailand Universe Ammara Assawanon, a.k.a. "the Thai Elizabeth Taylor".
  15. Rice Carriage, Threshing Rice, Rice Mill, Wedding in Southern Thailand, (หาบข้าว นวดข้าว สีข้าว แต่งงานภาคใต้ ), 1968-69 – A record of many interesting Thai rice customs.
  16. Virginity Market (ตลาดพรหมจารีย์ , Talad Prom Charee, 1973 – Veteran director Sakka Charuchinda's drama criticizes male hegemony in Thai society with a story about a fisherman who sells his stepdaughter to buy a new motor. 
  17. Chinatown Montage (สําเพ็ง, Sampeng), 1982 – Surapong Pinijkhar directs this pioneering experimental look at Bangkok's Chinatown, from morning to night.
  18. Silhouette of God (คนทรงเจ้า , Kon Song Jao), 1989 – Jazz Siam's social-issue drama for Five Star Production takes a critical view of black-magic beliefs in Thai society. Classic screen couple Santisuk Promsiri and Chintara Sukapatana star.
  19. The Elephant Keeper (คนเลี้ยงช้าง , Kon Liang Chang), 1990 – M.C. Chatrichalerm Yukol addresses environmental issues in this gritty action-drama about a mahout (Sorapong Chatree) who takes his elephant to work in the illegal timber trade. It was a submission to the Academy Awards.
  20. Rolling Stones, กลิ้งไว้ก่อนพ่อสอนไว้ , Gling Wai Kon Por Son Wai, 1991 – A famous teen film by director "King" Somching Srisuparp.
  21. Once Upon a Time ... In the Morning (กาลครั้งหนึ่งเมื่อเช้านี้ , Kalla Khrung Nueng ... Muea Chao Nee), 1994 – Another Oscar submission, Bhandit Rittakol's social-issue drama deals with children who run away from their divorcee mother (Chintara Sukapatana). They fall in with gangsters as they travel cross-country to find their father (Santisuk Promsiri).
  22. Nang Nak (นางนาก ), 1999 – Nonzee Nimibutr's adaptation of the famous ghost story of Mae Nak of Phra Khanong was a box-office hit and swept up most of the National Film Association Awards, the Netpac Award at Rotterdam and several prizes at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.
  23. Mysterious Object at Noon (ดอกฟ้าในมือมาร, Dokfa Nai Meuman), 2000 – Winner of awards in Fribourg, Yamagata and Vancouver, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's debut feature is an experimental documentary in which a film crew travels the length of Thailand, getting various folks to take part in an "exquisite corpse" storytelling exercise.
  24. Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์), 2001 – An Oscar submission and winner at festivals and the National Film Association Awards, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's sprawling musical-comedy-drama pays tribute to singer Suraphol Sombatcharoen with a story about a young man who goes AWOL from the army and leaves his wife in order to be a big luk thung star.
  25. Fan Chan (แฟนฉัน, a.k.a. My Girl), 2003 – The smash-hit childhood drama launched the careers of six young directors and led to the formation of the GTH studio.

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