Friday, January 15, 2010

Thunska's Reincarnate to make world premiere in Rotterdam

Thailand's cultural watchdogs probably had no idea what they were doing when they banned Thunska Pansittivorakul's This Area Is Under Quarantine from screening at last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok.

The experience has encouraged the maverick indie filmmaker, university teacher and Silpathorn Award winner, whose new feature Reincarnate is set to make its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Here's the description from the IFFR:

In separate sketches, Thunska Pansittivorakul shows the homosexual love between a teacher and pupil more explicitly than ever. Several cryptic scenes refer to the oppressive Thai political situation. A clear reaction to the new law that subjected his previous film, This Area Is Under Quarantine (2009), to censorship.

Here' s the synopsis from the film's press kit, which is available at

A teacher and his student go for a trip on this magical island where there are urban life and tourist attractions as well as a palace and temples. Moreover, a haunting past still gnaws, spreads, mates and mutates in a loop that can not be eliminated. It dissolves and mixes up with memories affecting the present and possessing the power that can destroy the future. In the vague atmosphere, the place slowly becomes deserted like a nightmare you want to wake away from but can not resist.

And the director's notes, also from the press kit:

August 2009, Kingdom of Thailand has issued a law forbidding films with these contains from screening in the country:

  1. Affect the royal institution and constitutional monarchy.
  2. Insult or bring disgrace on religions.
  3. Cause disharmony among the people.
  4. Affect inter-state relationship.
  5. Concern sexual intercourse.
  6. Contain a scene of sexual activities in which sexual organ is shown.

Moreover, the Board of Censorship can order for cuts or ban a film that [are] against morality, subvert the nation, and affect the security of the nation.

In a way this might be troublesome for commercial filmmakers. But for me this is a chance to do something I have been worried that I would never be able to do because I know that I can’t compromise with the latest censorship law anymore. Whatever you do, you can be judged that you are going against moral standards or sabotaging your own country. Meanwhile the politic situation has split us into many sides. Each side is only interested in its advantage. All of these give me hindsight that whatever happens right now is the collective consequence of our past. Not only it can’t be removed, it is also harming our people and spreading wider and wider that it can’t be easily brought to an end.

Shot on Si Chang island and in Trat province and Songkla, the film includes a documentary segment that gives production credit to Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

There's a trailer at YouTube and it's embedded below.

In addition to Reincarnate, other Thai films that are publicly listed on the IFFR website are:

  • Slice (Chuen) -- Kongkiat Komesiri's gruesome hard-boiled serial-killer thriller makes its international festival premiere in the Bright Future program.
  • Mundane History (Jao Nok Krajok) -- One of IFFR's earlier announced entries, Anocha Suwichakornpong's debut feature makes its European premiere in the VPRO Tiger Awards competition.
  • Nymph -- Pen-ek Ratanaruang's "hallucinating film ... set in a forest inhabited by female ghosts ... about a marriage that has cooled and then is shaken up when the man disappears into the forest for a brief period", is showing in the Spectrum section.

There is also Unreal Forest by Jakrawal Nilthamrong, which was made as part of IFFR's "Forget Africa" program.

The complete program goes online on January 21, with the festival running January 27 to February 7.

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