Monday, May 16, 2011

Agrarian Utopia, The Rocket and Stories from the North in New York

Along with the Blissfully Thai series at the Asia Society and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Primitive exhibition at the New Museum, there are also the films of Uruphong Raksasad in New York City.

His Agrarian Utopia will be at the Anthology Film Archives and his short film The Rocket is Stories from the North at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Agrarian Utopia starts on June 11 at the Anthology Film Archives. It won many awards at film festivals around the world in 2009 and 2010, and was honored at this year's Thailand National Film Awards and the Bangkok Critics Assembly Awards.

Here's the blurb from the Anthology Film Archives:

In Uruphong Raksasad’s ravishing documentary/fiction hybrid, two rural families, facing the seizure of their lands, come together to work the same rice paddy for a season, using pre-industrial farming methods. The title is, of course, ironic. The film shows a vanishing utopia that in reality is already essentially extinct: the plot of land was rented for the shoot, with Uruphong hiring locals to play the farmers. The serenely beautiful imagery – golden fields, time-lapse skies – bespeaks a nostalgia for a simpler time, but Agrarian Utopia is also clear-sighted and tough-minded in its assessment of the present-day economic and political realities that have transformed Thailand’s agricultural community – among other things, the film provides a partial back-story for the recent clashes in Bangkok between the Thai government and the red-shirt protesters.

The New York premiere is presented by the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar as part of their "Flaherty On the Road" initiative.

Meanwhile, the Museum of the Moving Image will show two of Uruphong's earlier films, his short, The Rocket and his short-film anthology on rural life, Stories from the North – fertile soil in which the seeds of Agrarian Utopia was planted. It's screening on June 5.

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