Friday, August 23, 2013

Short 17 preview: Sivaroj breaks an egg, Pimpaka makes a trilogy

Eggs are a running theme of the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, with the posters usually featuring egg shapes. This year’s design has a female body with a camera for a head ready to break out of her egg-like womb.

The symbolism is apt, especially as many directors, even the guys, have said that the films are their babies and making them is like giving birth.

Continuing with the theme of eggs, there’s the festival bumper, a short clip that precedes each screening at the festival. Frequent attendees will see it dozens of times during the fest's two-week run. A new bumper is made each year, usually by established directors who got their start at the fest, and they almost always incorporate eggs.

Yolking it up this year is "Karn" Sivaroj Kongsakul, whose award-winning short films Always and Silencio made their debuts at the fest. He’s since cracked on with longer films, with his 2011 debut feature Eternity (Tee Rak) winning the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam fest.

Karn’s two-minute bumper, embedded below, features a girl sitting in front of a white background holding a single egg in her hand.

“I love this work,” she says. “I have been doing it. I have fought for it. Either successful or unsuccessful, it’s a way of life.”

She then drops the egg and looks at where it splattered on the floor, which is basically all a filmmaker can do once they’ve completed their work and thrown it up on big screens for everyone to see.

As the saying goes, you have break a few eggs to make an omelette, and Karn’s made his share.

Apart from Karn’s bumper and the usual dozens of Thai shorts in competition in this year’s festival, there are a few other local ingredients in the mix.

Veteran producer-director Pimpaka Towira offers her cheerily titled Death Trilogy, a compilation of three shorts she’s made since 2010.

My Father involves the political situation that year, and has a railway worker from upcountry who is forced to quit his job because of a protest letter he wrote. He then heads off to Bangkok in search of justice and joins the red-shirt rally. After the rally’s end, he returns home a loser with a deep wound in his heart from his failures.

The Mother from last year has a grieving mum at the funeral of her 13-year-old daughter. Haunted by the girl’s mysterious passing, the mother is in search of answers.

The trio is completed by Pimpaka’s latest film, Malaria and Mosquitoes, which finds a widowed Karen woman caught in the limbo of statelessness.

It screens at 5 on Saturday and 6.45pm Thursday.

Another program worth mentioning is the Digital Forum, which started a few years back as a spotlight for digital media. In this category, the meaning of short film is stretched to medium length and sometimes far beyond.

That’s the case with the 222-minute Thawathosamat, Punlop Horharin’s examination of Thailand’s shifting religions, from animism to Hinduism and Buddhism and how these beliefs mixed and became the conception of the nation. It screens at 1 tomorrow.

More succinct but just as philosophical is the 34-minute 1674.38 How the Earth Around Us by Wairin Mathong, which has a student transferred to a new school and struggling to keep up as the world whizzes by. It screens at 3 on Sunday.

There are several other entries in the Digital Forum, but they and many other Thai shorts don’t have English subtitles, so please check the program before you enter the screenings and then cause a disruption by quickly exiting when you realize you can't understand what's being said. Usually there’s two screenings going on, so if one doesn’t have subtitles, it’s a good bet the other one will.

The Thai Short Film and Video Festival runs until September 1 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (closed Mondays). Check the festival's Facebook page for the schedule.

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