Friday, July 23, 2010

Newly promoted Thai Film Archive director dreams of a cinematheque

Dome Sukwong, Thailand's hard-working film archivist and historian, recently got a promotion as director of the Film Archive Public Organization of Thailand (Fapot).

Formerly chief archivist of the National Film Archive, Dome's unit in the Fine Arts Department was elevated last year to public organization status, which moves him to a higher rung on the bureaucratic ladder and in theory puts him in closer reach of much-needed funds for film preservation.

His budget is still limited, though, and he receives a pittance that doesn't come close to adequately funding the gargantuan task he's been working his whole life to get a handle on.

The Thai Film Archive compound in Salaya, though tidy and well maintained, is still under-equipped, with a film-storage facility that is bursting at the seams, the Sri Salaya theatre that will only hold a small audience and Thai Film Museum that is overflowing with artifacts and icons.

Shipping containers are being converted for more storage, library and office space, but these are only temporary.

Dome his bigger dreams – he wants to build a proper cinematheque, a massive 800-million-baht facility that would include a cinema, film school, libraries, exhibition space and film-restoration lab.

His plans are detailed in an article in today's Bangkok Post by Kong Rithdee:

We already have a blueprint, we already have a piece of land," says Dome. "A cinematheque is necessary just as libraries and museums are necessary in any nation. I believe that a Cinematheque – or Film House, if you prefer – is a boost to the cultural image of our country. It's a weapon for promoting intelligence and wisdom. When Thailand buys aircraft carriers or fighter jets, they have to be powerful, expensive and formidable because they would send a message to other countries. Likewise with cultural weapons, we have to invest, because it will show the world how we're seriously developing our citizens to become intelligent people."

The Fapot website for details on upcoming special events, including a discussion on July 31 of all the Mae Nak films including a screening of Pimpaka Towira's 1995 short. There are daily screenings, including a series on the movies by the six directors of the 2003 hit childhood comedy Fan Chan and Malaysian films, as well as weekly Sunday matinee screenings of The Adventure of Sudsakorn.

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