The Thai Film Archive's sixth annual Salaya International Documentary Film Festival opens at 1pm on Saturday with The Scala, a 50-minute made-for-TV piece by Thai filmmaker Aditya Assarat, who takes his cameras inside Siam Square's imperiled landmark cinema.
Although the Scala has been threatened with redevelopment plans for years, the latest word is that it will be in business through 2018, and maybe longer. But Aditya seems resigned to a future without the Scala, and is seemingly bidding it farewell.
Here's Aditya's synopsis:
I always like to watch movies at The Scala. It reminds me of my childhood when all the cinemas in Bangkok were standalone cinemas. At the time, I never thought it was anything special. But now that I am older, I have become nostalgic. There are many things about it I wanted to document: the staff, who are all old now, the space, which is very beautiful, and the ideal, of movie-watching as a special event. In a way, The Scala is similar to all of us who persevere, despite the difficulties, to celebrate cinema in the way we remember it to be.
The Scala opened its doors in 1970. It had one thousand seats and every night, they were filled. In those days, going to the movies was something special. The cinema was a place where people got dressed up, went on dates, and fell in love. But today, everything has changed. There is a multiplex in every mall and the young generation watch movies on their phone. But at The Scala, time has stood still. The cinema is still run by many of the same staff who have been there from the beginning. It is now the last remaining standalone cinema left in Bangkok. And soon, its time will come to an end too.
|The Scala will get just one screening during the sixth edition of Salaya Doc.|
Screening at the Busan fest last year, The Scala is part of a special Power of Asian Cinema package, co-produced by the Busan International Film Festival and Korean Broadcasting.
Other Salaya Doc programs are Sense and Sensibility, which groups together documentaries by female directors, and the Asean Documentary Competition, which has entries this year from Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
A major highlight is The Memory of Justice, a 1976 film that looked at wartime atrocities, by the Germans in World War II, and by the Americans in Vietnam. Running 278 minutes, the landmark documentary was recently restored and presented at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Another marathon screening will be Homeland: Iraq Year Zero, an award-winning chronicle of everyday life in Iraq before and after the U.S. invasion. It runs 334 minutes and will be presented in its entirety.
The fest is at the Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, from Saturday through Monday, and then from Tuesday shifts over to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, where it runs through April 3.
The schedule is embedded below. You can state your interest in attending the opening film and ceremony on the Facebook events page. For more details, please check the fest's Facebook page.