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Apichatpong Weerasethakul
อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล

Regista Thailandese

Jirawan Kwanpech
Scuola di Media Design • Nuova accademia di belle arti • March 1, 2008

Jirawan Kwanpech • email: Jirawan.Kwanpech@gmail.com • Scuola Media Design


Indice

1 Premessa 3
2 Biografia 4
3 Sang Sattawat(luce del secolo) 6
• storia 7
• commento del regista 8
• intervista 9
• Sang Sattawat censor 15
4 Sud sanaeha 17
5 Filmografia

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Premessa
Apichatpong Weerasetkul (Aphichaːtpong Wiːraː’seːthakul, Thalandese: อภิ
ชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล, il Nomignolo thailendese è “เจ้ย” ma fuori dalla Thai-
landia viene chiamato “Joe”) nasce il 16 luglio 1970 a Bangkok. Da quando a inizia
a girare film e video, nei premi anni ’90, diventa uno dei pochi registi thailandesi
che lavora al di fuori del regido sistema dello studio Thai. Promuove attivamente,
inoltre, film sperimentali e indipendenti e al momento sta lavorando come produt-
tore a un lungometraggio sperimentale. Si è guadagnato una crescente fame inter-
nazionale con i suoi film e progetti artistici che sono stati presentati a mostre di
livello mondiale. Ha realizzato molti cortometraggi e quattro film. Con tre film
dalla visione estremamente originale, Weerasethakul è diventato uno dei più im-
portanti giovani registi internazionali e una figura chiave del cinema emergente
thailandese.
Tropical Malady, il suo sucesso film, ha vinto il premio della giuria a Cannes nel 2004

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Biografia:Biography
Apichatpong
Weerasethakul
อภิชาติพงศ์ วีระเศรษฐกุล

Regista Thailandese

E’ sbarcato nei lidi del cinema europeo come una vera scoperta, anche se ha un nome che
è facile da dimenticare (e quasi impossibile da leggere). Si è riscattato dall'anonimato gra-
zie a una filmografia che ne ha fatto una star tailandese che brilla di luce propria. Un
nuovo volto da scoprire per chi non lo conoscesse e un grande e sempre gradito ritorno
per chi lo ha già apprezzato. Maestro di quella sessualità torbida che non conosce limiti di
genere e di età, aspira definitivamente allo status di Autore e di regista di gran razza. In
una parola, Apichatpong Weerasethakul è un artista sorprendente e che merita la massima
attenzione.
Nato nella profonda Thailandia nel 1970, figlio di due medici, è cresciuto a stretto con-
tatto con l'ambiente ospedaliero. Studente prima di architettura e poi di cinema a Chi-
cago, ha esordito nel circuito cinematografico con una serie di cortometraggi che ancora
produce. Il primo di questa lunga serie di piccole perle è Bullet del 1993, cui seguiranno
Kitchen and Bedroom (1994) e 0016643225059 (1994).
Nel 2000, esordisce con il suo primo film Mysterious object at Noon, molto apprezzato
in Francia. La pellicola è un esperimento vero e proprio, che mischia documentario e fic-
tion e che racconta il viaggio dal paese di Thai a Bangkok, in cui il regista chiede alla
gente che incontra il modo di continuare una storia su un ragazzo portatore di handicap e
il suo insegnante. La vera conquista arriva però con Blissfully Yours, un altro
documentario-fiction dove un trio di immigrati clandestini si lascia andare ai piaceri
dell'eros in una foresta pluviale. Il film è unico nel suo genere. Si grida quasi al capola-
voro. I titoli di testa appaiono a mezz'ora dall'inizio del film, i movimenti dei personaggi
sono seguiti in tempo reale, scritte e disegni decorano la pellicola e la voce fuoricampo del
protagonista maschile crea un effetto frastornante. In patria, la censura esplode per una
sequenza decisamente hard, l'Europa invece vuole scavare più a fondo nei meandri della
mente di questo nuovo piccolo "scienziato cinematografico pazzo".
Nei film di Weerasethakul, quando scorrono i titoli di testa, non si legge mai "diretto da",
ma sempre " concepito da " , a dimostrazione del fatto che il regista ha un rapporto pene-
trante e quasi carnale con ognuna delle sue opere. Perturbante e decisamente stravagante,
anche la scelta di co-dirigere The Adventures of Iron Pussy, parodia degli 007, che ha
come protagonista un agente segreto transessuale.
Nel 2004 arriva Tropical Malady, coprodotto da Marco Muller e montato da Jacopo
Quadri, che riceve il Premio Speciale della Giuria a Cannes. Il film, che esplora la passi-
one di due amici e le singolari conseguenze che questa porterà, dà forma a un mondo

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sempre più esotico ed erotico, al limite fra l'avanguardia concettuale e la tradizione nazi-
onale.
Le sue trame si fanno più complesse, il regista ha finalmente un'ottima chance per farsi
tenere d'occhio da altri mondi cinematografici, suscitando una curiosità che ancora oggi,
nel 2006, con Syndromes and a Century, pellicola che parla di amore e corteggiamenti,
sembra essere ancora viva. In quest'ultimo film, il regista mette in scena i ricordi adoles-
cenziali dei suoi genitori, con il timidissimo dottor Toa che tenta di conquistare la sua
collega Tei. Weerasethakul si presta anche come attore, in una piccola parte e rispecchia e
rende vivo ciò che gli sta attorno immergendolo nella quotidianità più lucida e assorta
che si conosca come un Antonioni dagli occhi a mandorla.
Sempre pronto a riflettere su ciò che lo circonda, dalla globalizzazione all'omosessualità,
preme l'acceleratore su un bisogno di semplicità e nostalgia per una perduta innocenza,
sfogliando i toni lievi del vivere, rendendoli intimisti, e utilizzando immagini poetiche
che risvegliano sensazioni delicate e labili. Con la sua eccentricità, colpisce nel segno ed è
una svolta per il cinema tailandese, che sembra gridare, sotto tutti i fronti ed i generi:
«Anche io esisto!».

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Sang sattawat
แสงศตวรรษ
Luce del secolo
Syndromes and a Century

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SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY

35 mm/ 105 minutes/ Dolby SRD/ 2006 (Thai title: Sang Sattawat)

Thailand/Austria/France

SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY is a film in two parts which sometimes echo each
other. The two central characters are inspired by the film-maker's parents, in the years
before they became lovers. The first part focuses on a woman doctor, and is set in a space
reminiscent of the world in which the film-maker was born and raised. The second part
focuses on a male doctor, and is set in a more contemporary space much like the world
the film-maker lives in.

Awards

Best Film Award, 9th Deauville Asian Film Festival, France, 2007
Best Editor Award, Asian Film Award, Hong Kong, 2007
Special Mention, Fribourg International Film Festival, Switzerland, 2007
Honourable Mention, Adelaide Film Festival, Australia, 2007

stories
1

In a small country hospital, Dr Toey interviews Nohng, an army-trained doctor who is


about to start working in the hospital. Waiting nearby is Toa, who is shyly, hopelessly,
trying to court Toey.

Toey's daily routine in the hospital keeps her quite busy. An old monk who comes to her
with aching joints tries to cajole her into providing a range of prescription medicines for
his temple and the local community. She tries to recover an overdue debt. And she finds
herself thinking back to her encounters with the orchid expert Noom. He coveted a rare
wild tree orchid in the hospital grounds and took it to his botanical farm. There Toey met
a middle-aged woman named Jenjira, and they talked about the history of the farm - and
about love.

In the hospital's dental surgery, Dr Ple develops an unexplained attraction to a young


monk, Sakda, who once wanted to be a DJ. At night, dentist and patient talk about their
past lives - and about love.

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2

In a modern, urban hospital, Dr Toey is interviewing Nohng, an army-trained doctor


who is about to start working in the hospital. Waiting nearby is Toa, who is shyly, hope-
lessly, trying to court Toey. She remains unreceptive.

Left to his own devices by his supervisor Toey, Dr Nohng visits an old friend in the
physical therapy ward and is taken to a basement department where he meets two women
doctors: Nant, who sells T-shirts for the Red Cross, and Wan, who sometimes appears on
TV and has a taste for strong liquor. Wan tries to practice chakra healing on Off, a dis-
turbed young man who has suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

As the day draws to a close, Nohng meets his girlfriend Joy, who suggests that he should
move to a hospital in a new development area, due to open next year.

FILMMAKER'S NOTE

When I was a child, I lived in hospital environments for


twelve years. My parents were doctors who raised us
kids in a house provided by the small-town hospital
where they worked. My mother often brought me to
her office, a dimly lit room overlooking a children's
ward. This room was my playground, my station to
look at people. Nearby was a pond where patients and
relatives fed the fish. From the room's window, you
could see people having lunch and sleeping in the corri-
dor, out of the sun. In retrospect, everything seemed to move in slow motion.

Recently I went back to the hospital and found myself lost. Everything had changed and
the familiar spaces were gone. As a film-maker, I have been fascinated by the spaces of a
small town and its landscape. But I had never really looked at the place where my family
lived. Now, with my hometown changing rapidly and becoming more like Bangkok, my
memories of the lost spaces seem even more distant. With the waves of globalization af-
fecting the way we live and how we make films, my desire to make a real personal recol-
lection has become more intense.

Syndromes and a Century is a contribution to the New Crowned Hope festival, a project
that will explore how we remember, how our sense of happiness can be triggered by seem-
ingly insignificant things. It is an experiment in recreation of my parents' lives before I
was born, which also includes the lives of those who have touched me in the present day.
It will be an interpretation of distant lives and of architectures that I remain fond of,
along with contemporary ones that I have around me. Time is collapsed to mimic a pat-
tern of remembering and to manifest my belief in the idea of reincarnation. We are con-
stantly reborn, amassing our karma, and we learn from our successive lives in order to
one day finally experience a true happiness.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (written in 2005, before the start of production)

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Interview
MEMORIES, MYSTERIES

from an interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul by Tony Rayns (Bangkok, July 2006)

The film's English title is rather allusive. 'Syndromes' suggests a concern with human be-
havior, while 'a Century' suggests a concern with time. Is that how you saw it yourself?

Yes, this is the third film in which I've used the structure to explore dualities, and I think
it will be the last. The word 'Syndromes' could apply equally to Blissfully Yours or Tropi-
cal Malady : it does refer to human behavior, such as the way we fall in love. I don't in-
tend the word to have negative connotations; if falling in love is a kind of sickness, it's
one for which we all show symptoms. 'Century' for me conveys the sense of moving for-
ward. A century is more or less the same as a lifetime. I'm interested in the ways things
change over time, and in the ways they don't change. It seems to me that human affairs
remain fairly constant.

Blissfully Yours was, for me, a film about cinema and the way I see it. Tropical Malady is
more directly personal: it's about me. And this film is about my parents. I feel that I'm
achieving some kind of closure with this film, and the word 'Century' somehow chimes
with that.

Here the main duality is female/male ...

Yes, the first half is for my mother and the second for my father. The occasional repeti-
tions reflect my belief in reincarnation: people do repeat things. I probably started out
with larger dualities in mind - such as day/night, masculine/feminine - but the contrasts
aren't so stark in the finished film. It's just my mother and father.

The first half has a more 'period' feel than the second, but you haven't really tried to rec-
reate the environment in which you grew up. You didn't want period detail?

The town where I grew up is Khon Kaen (it's in the north-east of Thailand, near Laos);
it's where my father died, and my mother still lives there. I went back there to look for
locations, but the landscapes and hospital buildings that I remember simply don't exist
any more. So even if I'd wanted to recreate the past, it would not have been possible. We
shot the film in various places that evoked my childhood memories, but they're basically
contemporary. The first half of the film, centered on my mother, is less contemporary
than the second, but that's because places in Thailand do look more old-fashioned when
you leave Bangkok.
Memory is the central impulse in your
film-making?

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It may well be the only impulse! Everything is stored in our memory, and it's in the na-
ture of film to preserve things ... But I've never set out to recreate my memories exactly.
The mind doesn't work like a camera. The pleasure for me is not in remembering exactly
but in recapturing the feeling of the memory - and in blending that with the present.
That's been especially true in this film. In Tropical Malady I was following a full script
and trying to get things 'right'. But this film is not really about me, and so (thanks to the
generosity of my producers, who never objected) I had the freedom to build it bit by bit,
day by day. We shot the first half first, then took a break and rough-cut the footage before
shooting the second half. That helped very much to shape the rhythms in the second half,
some of the dialogue and so on. We changed a lot in the second half in response to places
we found while scouting for locations and little things that happened during the shoot.
For example, the room full of prosthetic limbs was something we came across by chance,
while scouting many hospitals. And the idea that the woman doctor would hide liquor in
one of the prosthetic limbs was spontaneous, too. It came into the film at most a few days
before we shot it.

So how many of the incidents and details in the film are based on memories and how
many on present-day accidents of discovery?

It's impossible to say exactly. Take the interview scene which opens both halves of the
film. The decision to use psychological-test questions in the interview came from the ac-
tress we cast: she may work in a toll-booth, but she has a Master's degree in Psychology.
The idea emerged in the workshops we did before shooting. But the question about what
"DDT" stands for comes directly from something my father told me. It was a question he
was asked by a teacher, and the answer in the film is the one he gave.

The behavior of the Buddhist monks reflects exactly what I remember seeing in my fa-
ther's clinic. Monks are not supposed to do things like play guitar, but such things do
happen. I have a childhood memory of seeing monks in my hometown, walking near
their temple, and thinking that they didn't look like monks at all. And Sakda told me
that when he was a monk, he behaved no differently from the way he did normally. The
monk he plays in this film is of course a continuation of his role in Tropical Malady . In
my original script, he changed into a tiger at night!

The idea of the singing dentist came from someone I met when I went back to Khon
Kaen to receive an award from my old university. One alumnus there was a dentist and
he had released an album of songs about dental health. I thought I'd put that in the film,
but when the time came to shoot, the guy wasn't available. So I cast someone else as the
dentist. Quite a few of the other characters and incidents in the film also came from
chance encounters during the research period: finding a beautiful man or woman and
deciding to put them in the film.

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What were the workshops you
mentioned?

For me, making a film is a welcome excuse to get out of Bangkok. In this case, we took
the main actors to Hua Hin to get them comfortable with each other. We just talked to-
gether and they did some on-camera interviews on video. Nobody except Sakda had ever
really acted before, and so Sakda became a kind of acting coach to the others.

What does the tree orchid mean to you?

It's a beautiful parasite, and a symbol of fertility. Its seeds are blown by the wind and it
attaches itself to the host it lands on. It's random and mysterious, like the film itself. As I
was growing up, my mother had a huge garden of orchids. And she shot home movies of
the family, so maybe there's more than one association there for me.

And the sun imagery?

The Thai title means "Light of the Century". The first half of the film is a kind of portrait
of the sun, or an account of the way we depend on the sun for our survival. The second
half of the film is dominated by artificial light. But the chakra healing in the second half
is also all about the sun: it's a way of channeling the sun's power into the body.

Finally, what are the bronze sculptures seen in the second half of the film?

They are important figures in the development of modern Thai medicine. Including the
sculptures in the film was a way of paying respect to them. In one sense, the film is a
tribute to those who passed on this century to us.

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credits

SAYOMBHU MUKDEEPROM (cinematographer)

Born in 1970, he graduated from the Communication Arts faculty of Chulalongkorn


University in Bangkok, majoring in motion picture and still photography. His first film as
cinematographer was Apichatpong's Blissfully Yours . Since then he has worked prolifi-
cally as a freelance DoP for both features and commercials. His feature credits include
Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's Sayew (co-directed by Kiat Sansanandana) and Midnight, My
Love and three films by Yongyoot Thongkongtoon: Iron Ladies , Iron Ladies 2 and
M.A.I.D.

LEE CHATAMETIKOOL (editor/post-production supervisor)

Lee is a film-maker and editor based in Bangkok. After studying in the USA, he returned
to Thailand in 2001 to work on Apichatpong's Blissfully Yours . He has since grown
alongside a new crop of independent film-makers in Thailand, editing debut features for
several directors. Standing apart from the mainstream film industry, he continues to focus
on innovative projects with an original approach. Exploring the art of weaving multi-
layered narratives has been his passion for the past five years. In 2003 he established his
own post-production company, Houdini Studio, to provide film editing and sound de-
sign services to Thailand's independent film-making community. In addition to editing

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and supervising the post-production of Apichatpong's films, he has worked on such films
as Kongdej Jaturanrasmee and Kiat Sansanandana's Sayew (2003), Pimpaka Towira's One
Night Husband (2003), Parkpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun's Shutter
(2004), Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's Midnight, My Love (2005), Wang Xiaoshuai's Shanghai
Dreams (2005), Anocha Suwichakornpong's Graceland (2006) and Pen-ek Ratanaruang's
Invisible Waves (2006).

AKRITCHALERM KALAYANAMITR (sound recordist)

Born in Bangkok, he has a BFA degree in Political Science/International Affairs from


Thammasat University and originally intended to join the diplomatic corps. But a strong
interest in film sidetracked him into studying film-making in the USA. After graduating
from film school in 2000, he was active in 'underground' film-making in Bay Area San
Francisco. On his return to Thailand he taught at the School of Audio Engineering and
worked with Apichatpong for the first time on Tropical Malady . His recent credits in-
clude Seth Grossman's The Elephant King , Anocha Suwichakornpong's Graceland , Pen-
ek Ratanaruang's Invisible Waves and Thom Fitzgerald's 3 Needles .

PANTHAM THONGSANG (co-producer)

Pantham first studied film at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and went on to


study at UCLA with a grant from the Asian Cultural Council. He joined the Thai music/
film major Grammy in 1986 and worked for the company in many capacities. In 1995,
he helped to set up Grammy's first film production division and worked as assistant di-
rector, line producer and producer on many films. In 2004 he made his debut as director
with the controversial I-Fak ( The Judgment ). In the same year he set up his own com-
pany Tifa, which co-produced Apichatpong's Tropical Malady .

CHARLES DE MEAUX (co-producer)

Charles de Meaux founded Anna Sanders Films in 1998 with Pierre Huyghe, Philippe
Parreno, and the Association for Diffusion of Contemporary Art (X.Douroux,
F.Gautherot). Dominique Gonzalez Foerster has also recently joined them. Anna Sanders
Films proposes to be a production tool for projects that are shaping new cinematic land-
scapes or, rather, the "moments in landscapes". As part of the program, Charles de Meaux
directed the feature films Le pont du trieur with Thibault de Montalembert as well as
Shimkent Hotel with Melvil Poupaud and Romain Duris. His next project, Stretch , will
be shot in Macau and produced by MK2. His other credits include producing/co-
producing Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Blissfully Yours and Tropical Malady .

NANTARAT SAWADDIKUL (as Dr Toey)

Born in Bangkok, 1977, she has a BA in Business Administration from Bangkok Univer-
sity and went on to take an MA in Education, majoring in Guidance and Counseling
Psychology. While studying she began working as a toll collector for the Expressway and
Transit Authority of Thailand, and has been working there ever since. She currently lives
with her mother and grandmother, with a dog and two cats. She hopes to make her own
short film one day.

JARUCHAI IAMARAM (as Dr Nohng)

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Born in Khon Kaen, 1973, he has a BA in Education from Khon Kaen University. He
went on to become a website programmer, and was for five years the webmaster of Sa-
nook, Thailand's most popular website. He then became assistant vice-president of M-
web. He's now a freelance, doing odd jobs and living with his son.

SOPHON PUKANOK (as Noom, the orchid expert)

Born in Petchaburi, 1970, he came to Bangkok at the age of 10. He studied Marketing
and then worked as an agent for the motor companies Toyota and Mercedes Benz. He
also worked as a sales supervisor for a supermarket and a real-estate company. But he was
always interested in hair-dressing and acquired the skills in his free time. He subsequently
opened his own hair salon and is now one of the most in-demand stylists at a salon in
downtown Bangkok. He's been in the hair business for 12 years.

ARKANAE CHERKAM (as Ple, the dentist)

Born in Kalasin (north-east Thailand), 1975, he grew up in Bangkok and studied Busi-
ness Administration at ABAC University. After graduating, he worked as a copy writer
and web designer. Later, on a friend's recommendation, he began working as an Accounts
Executive at a jewelry company. He now has his own jewelry shop in Jatujak Market in
Bangkok; you can find it at Lock 3, Soi 45.

SAKDA KAEWBUADEE (as Sakda, the monk)

Born in Kanchanaburi (north-east Thailand), 1978, he came to Bangkok after finishing


high school. He did many odd jobs, including stints selling KFC and working in a 7-
Eleven. Four years later he joined the army for one year and then ordained as a monk in
Patumtani. He later returned to Bangkok and worked in a communications company. It
was during that time that he met Apichatpong, who cast him as the country boy in
Tropical Malady . He has since appeared in many short films by Apichatpong.

NU NIMSOMBOON (as Toa)

Born in Bangkok, 1975, he studies Communication Arts at Rangsit University and went
on to take a Communication Arts diploma from St Martin's College of Art and Design
in London. Back in Thailand, he founded his own graphic design company called Slow-
motion. His clients include TCDC (Thailand Creative Design Centre), and he has de-
signed numerous CD sleeves and all the poster and promotional art for Pen-ek Ratanaru-
ang's Last Life in the Universe .

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The film “Sang Satawat” (“Syndromes and a Century”), recently sub-
mitted to the Censorship Board, was not approved for release in Thai-
land unless cuts are made. The Board would permit the release on the
condition that four cuts were excised. As a result, director Apichatpong
Weerasethakul decided to cancel commercial release of the film in
Thailand and stood firm that these cuts not be made. He has issued a
statement:

“I, a filmmaker, treat my works as my own sons or my daughters. When I conceived


them, they have their own lives to live. I don't mind if people are fond of them, or de-
spise them, as long as I created them with my best intentions and efforts. If these off-
spring of mine cannot live in their own country for whatever reasons, let them be free.
Since there are other places that warmly welcome them as who they are, there is no reason
to mutilate them from the fear of the system, or from greed. Otherwise there is no reason
for one to continue making art.”

Afterwards, the filmmaker’s representative contacted the Board and requested that the
print of the film submitted for consideration be returned, including a letter confirming
that the film would not be shown commercially and no appeal would be made. However,
the Board refused to return the print, and insisted that they would do so only if these
four cuts were removed by the Board itself.(see more details at
http://a-century.exteen.com)

Consequently, the detention of the print has sparked a widespread discussion especially
on the Internet. A large number of resentful people, NGO workers and scholars have
logged on to express their disagreement over the seemingly arbitrary censorship policies,
which they regard as a form of oppression that the state employs to restrict the people’s
freedom of expression. The Thai Censorship Board still operates on the basis of anti-

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quated legislation dating from the Film Act of 1930, which was the time this country was
still ruled by Absolute Monarchy.
http://www.bioscopemagazine.com/smf/index.php?topic=162.msg774..msg774

It eludes us all why Thai cinema has continued to be systematically straightjacketed even
though there have been several attempts by the film community of the past 30 years to
campaign for the complete overhaul of the aforementioned Film Act, whose essence func-
tions against the spirit of genuine democracy in all manners.

The shameful episode over “Syndromes and a Century”, a film that has brought much
favorable critical attention to Thai cinema, is taking place in 2007 as the new constitu-
tion is being drafted by the National Legislative Assembly. This presents an opportunity
to all of us, the local film community as well as film lovers from all over the world, to
demand and reclaim our basic human rights to freely receive of informations and rights
to express ourselves through cinema, which remains the only medium that’s still chained
to the wicked pillar of undemocratic practice.

We who sign our names here henceforth assert the ownership of our basic human rights
and the dignity of human beings under a democratic society. We demand the National
Legislative Assembly decree the movies a form of mass media, and that it be liberated
from the shackles of state intervention and restriction, the same as other mass media such
as radio, television and newspapers have long been set free.

We’re petitioning not only for a just decision for “Syndromes and a Century”, but also for
a long-needed modernization of Thai legislation concerning movie censorship. We de-
mand that the authority revise the legislation to abandon the practice of cutting and ban-
ning films, and instead to implement a rating system of the kind used in free countries.
This is the only way that Thai cinema and all cinema to be shown in Thailand can be
freed from the shackles of outdated legal vandalism.

Jirawan Kwanpech • email: Jirawan.Kwanpech@gmail.com • Scuola Media Design 16


Sud sanaeha
สุดเสน่หา
Blissfully Yours

The idea for Blissfully Yours was inspired by an incident that occurred in 1998 while I
was shooting my previous film at a downtown zoo in Bangkok. A policeman handcuffed
two teenage women and threw them into a police car. I eventually learned that they were
illegal Burmese immigrants. This was not an uncommon incident. It is an aspect of living
in Thailand that many people face.

So I have cast the sun as my main character in this film. It is the primary source of energy
for life, and at the same time, of destruction. It affects all the individuals in the story (a
man’s mysterious sunburn, the relentless heat), and can be viewed as an invisible oppres-
sive force around this area on the Thai-Burmese border. The second character is the jun-
gle, which confines the protagonists despite their desire to find freedom there. In this
story, I have chosen not to dwell on the political issues of the Thai-Burmese border, but
to focus on mundane and futile activities, which in themselves carry an underlying politi-
cal message.

The shooting went incredibly smoothly until we approached the second half of the film.
It was shot in the deep jungle of Khao Yai national park, one of the most pristine forest
reserves in Thailand. For a production team, it was like a remote training camp with re-
lentless heat. It was impossible to bring in a power generator and so we depended solely
on natural light. There were many days when we just trekked into the jungle and waited
for the sun. One day, in Thai tradition, we gave offerings (a pig’s head and a bottle of liq-
uor) to a forest goddess. And, in exchange, she gave us the sun.

A few days after the last scene was shot, the setting was destroyed by a big flood. A large
tree in the background plunged into the water and the stream turned muddy. We again
thanked the forest goddess for allowing us enough sun to capture the beautiful images in
our film.

!
!
!

Jirawan Kwanpech • email: Jirawan.Kwanpech@gmail.com • Scuola Media Design 17


Filmografia: Filmography
Lungometraggio: Feature films

• Mysterious Object at Noon (Dokfa nai meuman:ดอกฟ้าในมือมาร), (2000)


• 2nd Prize, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan, 2001
• NETPAC Special Mention Prize, Yamagata Documentary Film Festival,
2001
• Grand Prix - Woosuk Award, JeonJu International Film Festival, Korea,
2001
• Special Citation, "Dragons & Tigers," Vancouver Film Festival, Canada,
2000
• Blissfully Yours (Sud sanaeha:สุดเสน่หา) (2002)
• Le Prix Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival, France, 2002
• Golden Alexander Award – Best Film, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece,
2002
• Grand Prize, TOKYO FILMeX, Japan, 2002
• The Circle of Dutch Film Critics Award, Rotterdam International Film Fes-
tival 2003
• The International Critics Award (FIPRESCI Prize), Buenos Aires Film Fes-
tival 2003
• Silver Screen Award, Singapore International Film Festival 2003
• Best International Film Award, Images Festival, Canada 2004
• The Adventure of Iron Pussy (Hua jai tor ra nong:หัวใจทรนง), co-director (2003)
• Tropical Malady (Sud pralad:สัตว์ประหลาด!) (2004)
• Prix du Jury, Cannes Film Festival, France, 2004
• Age d’or Prize, Cinédécouvertes, Belgium, 2004
• Grand Prize, Tokyo Filmex, Japan, 2004
• Best Film, The xx International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Turin, Italy,
2005
• Special Jury Prize, The xx International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Tu-
rin, Italy, 2005
• Special Jury Prize, Singapore International Film Festival, Singapore, 2005
• Syndromes and a Century (Sang sattawat:แสงศตวรรษ) (2006)
• In competition, Venice Film Festival, Italy, 2006
• รางวัลภาพยนตร์ยอดเยี่ยม Lotus du Meuilleur Film-Grand Prix ในงานเทศกาล
ภาพยนตร์จากเอเชีย ครั้งที่ 9 ประเทศฝรั่งเศส
• Utopia (in development, scheduled for 2007)

Cortometraggi e installazioni video: Short films and installations

• Bullet (1993)
• 0116643225059 (1994)

Jirawan Kwanpech • email: Jirawan.Kwanpech@gmail.com • Scuola Media Design 18


• Kitchen and Bedroom (1994)
• Like the Relentless Fury of the Pounding Waves (1996)
• Rice Artist Michael Shaowanasai's Performance (1996)
• 100 Years of Thai Cinema (for Thai Film Foundation, 1997)
• thirdworld (1998)
• The Lungara Eating Jell-O (for World Artists for Tibet, 1998)
• Windows (1999)
• Malee and the Boy (1999)
• Boys at Noon (2000)
• Boys at Noon / Girls at Night (2000)
• Haunted Houses Project: Thailand (for Istanbul Biennial, 2001)
• Secret Love Affair (for Tirana) (2001)
• Narratives: Masumi Is a PC Operator / Fumiyo Is a Designer / I Was Sketching /
Swan's Blood (for Intercross Creative Center, 2001)
• Second Love in Hong Kong, co-director (2002)
• Golden Ship (for Memlingmuseum, 2002)
• This and Million More Lights (for 46664, 2003)
• GRAF: Tong / Love Song / Tone (2004)
• It Is Possible That Only Your Heart Is Not Enough to Find You a True Love: True
Love in Green / True Love in White (for Busan Biennial, 2004)
• Worldly Desires (for Jeonju International Film Festival, 2004)
• Ghost of Asia, co-director (for Tsunami Digital Short Films project, 2005)
• Waterfall (for Solar Cinematic Art Gallery/Curtas Vila do Conde International
Film Festival, 2006)
• Faith (for FACT/Liverpool Biennial, 2006)
• The Anthem (for LUX/Frieze Art Fair, 2006)
• Unknown Forces (for REDCAT, 2007)
• Luminous People (2007)
• Because (2007)
• My Mother's Garden (for Christian Dior, 2007)
• Meteorites (for Short Films for the King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 80th Birthday,
2007)

Riferimento: References
• Chaiworaporn, Anchalee (April 2006). " A Perceiver of Sense. " 11th Hong Kong
Independent Short Film & Video Awards.
• Lim, Li Min (November 2, 2006). A Thai director's elliptical view of the world,
International Herald Tribune
• Pansittivorakul,Thunska (May 19, 2006). " A Conversation with Apichatpong
Weerasethakul".

Jirawan Kwanpech • email: Jirawan.Kwanpech@gmail.com • Scuola Media Design 19


Jirawan Kwanpech • email: Jirawan.Kwanpech@gmail.com • Scuola Media Design 20