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‘Thailand’ through the eyes of non-Thai filmmakers

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In addition its current “Drug In Film” project, the Thai Film Archive is also holding a program of historical and contemporary films about Thailand as seen through the eyes of non-Thai filmmakers.

The series, dubbed “Exotic Thailand”, will run through July and August, and features 15 films made in Thailand by international directors, including historical works like “Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness” (1927), “A Handful of Rice” (1940) and “Yutthana-Siriporn” (1963), as well as “Butterfly Man” (2002), “Soi Cowboy” (2009), “Only God Forgives” (2013), “The Forest” (2017) and “Pop-Aye” (2017).

Over the past 100 years, the image of Siam – later Thailand – has been captured, presented and represented in countless films made by international filmmakers who arrived with their cameras and preconceptions. How did they see Thailand? What were the representative images of our “exotic” Kingdom (elephants, monks, beautiful women)? And how is reality reflected, invented or distorted through those eyes?

'Thailand' through the eyes of non-Thai filmmakers | News by The Thaiger

“Nangsao Suwan” (“Suvarna of Siam”)

Thailand has been a popular location for decades and the destination of coice for “Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness” (1927) and “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974). One of the first films shot in Siam was “Nangsao Suwan” (“Suvarna of Siam”) in 1922, by American filmmaker Henry MacRae and featured a Thai cast. The film has since been lost and all that remains are a few stills.

In 1927, Merian C Cooper came here to make “Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness”, a proto-disaster film featuring a rampaging herd of wild elephants wreaking havoc on rural villages (Cooper would return to the US and later made the original “King Kong” in 1933). It’s interesting to note that elephants, among other symbols, would continue to be used as a representative of Thailand in almost every film made by foreigners.

The Swedish film “A Handful of Rice” (1940) presented our agricultural society and rural existence through a docudrama narrative. Meanwhile, “Yutthana Siriporn” (1963) is a German film that presents the urban landscape of Bangkok in the 1960s and a Buddhist rite.

'Thailand' through the eyes of non-Thai filmmakers | News by The Thaiger

“The Man with the Golden Gun” – James Bond heads to Phuket and Phang Nga Bay – 1974

In later decades, the image of Thailand seen through the foreign lens is a rich mix of honest perspective and romantic Orientalism, accented by the arrival of GIs during the Vietnam War with key images including elephants, monks, Buddhism, postcard-perfect beaches, Siamese smiles, bars, ghosts, women of the night and seedy neighbourhoods. James Bond had his adventure here in “The Man with the Golden Gun”, which made Khao Tapu in Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island) an ultimate icon of cinematic Thailand.

'Thailand' through the eyes of non-Thai filmmakers | News by The Thaiger

“Hangover II “

“The Elephant King” (2006) is a sober portrait of two brothers in Chiang Mai, while “The Hangover Part II” (2011) is a less sober, wildly exaggerated exoticisation of the Kingdom.

Arthouse film “Soi Cowboy” (2009) puts a spin on the relationship between a Thai woman and a European man. Some of these films show Thailand in a way that no Thai films are interested in showing, and while some may present an exoticised view, others offer a clear-eyed gaze at what this country and its people really look like.

The exotic means both serenity and danger, and there are several films that tackle both extremes, such as the Singaporean-directed “Pop-Aye” (2017), which tells the story of a Thai man on a mission to bring an elephant back to its hometown; “Only God Forgives” (2013), starring Ryan Gosling and Vitthaya Pansringam in a blood-soaked gangster thriller (no real elephants in the film, but the lead Thai character is named Chang or Elephant); and “Lost in Thailand” (2014), a Chinese road movie that launched a craze of tourism to the North of Thailand.

'Thailand' through the eyes of non-Thai filmmakers | News by The Thaiger

“Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness” (1927)

The “Exotic Thailand” program also features a number of films produced by Tom Waller, a Thai director/producer of Irish descent who offers a unique viewpoint on the Thai narrative. For instance his “Mindfulness and Murder” (2011), a film about a monk who investigates a murder in a temple; “Butterfly Man” (2002), about a British tourist and a Thai masseuse; and “Ghost of Nak” (2005), a Mae Nak legend directed by an English director.

On August 17, a special talk session with Tom Waller and Wikanda Phromkhunthong, a film lecturer at Mahidol University, will discuss the “exotic” quality of Thailand from past to present, and how Thailand has been represented on the cinema screen over the past 100 years.

Program

July 4, 5.30pm: Lost in Thailand (China, 2012)

July 6, 1pm: A Handful of Rice (Sweden, 1940)

July 16, 1pm: Yutthana-Siriporn (Germany, 1963)

Aug 1, Ghost of Nak (Thailand, Directed by Mike Duffield, 2005)

Aug 3, 1pm: Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (USA, 1927)

Aug 3, 3pm: The Forest (Thailand, directed by Paul Spurrier, 2016)

Aug 7, 5.30pm: Bangkok Dangerous (Thailand, directed by Oxide and Danny Pang, 1999)

Aug 17, 1pm: Soi Cowboy (Thailand, directed by Thomas Clay, 2009)

Followed by a panel discussion with Tom Waller (producer) and Wikanda Phromkhunthong (scholar)

Aug 24, 1pm: Pop-Aye (Singapore, Thailand, directed by Kirsten Tan, 2017)

Aug 24, 3pm: The Elephant King (Thailand, directed by Seth Grossman, 2006)

Aug 25, 1pm: The Hangover Part II (USA, 2011)

Aug 25, 3pm: The Man with the Golden Gun (UK, 1974)

Aug 29, 5.30pm: Butterfly Man (Thailand, Directed by Kaprice Kea, 2002)

SOURCE: The Nation

Check out the list of some other films made by foreigners in Thailand HERE.

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Bangkok

Thai “net idol” arrested on attempted murder charges over alleged Bangkok shooting

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai “net idol” arrested on attempted murder charges over alleged Bangkok shooting | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: เสี่ยโป้ อานนท์

Police arrested internet “idol” and self-professed gambler Apirak “Sia Po” Chat-anon who allegedly shot 2 men outside a massage parlour on Bangkok. Sia Po had turned himself in to police, saying he was at the shooting, but wasn’t carrying a firearm. Police arrested him on charges of attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm, carrying the gun in public and firing shots.

The shooting happened around 10:30pm Tuesday night outside the Saree Sauna & Shop on Ratchaphurek Road in the Phasicharoen district, injuring 2 men. Reports don’t go into detail about the men’s conditions, or if they have been interviewed by police.

Sia Po told police he is a regular customer at the massage shop and was there on Tuesday with 3 of his friends while his brother was out on an “appointment” with 2 “rival” men at a nearby liquor store. Apparently, it didn’t go well. Sia Po’s brother along with 10 friends met up with him at the massage shop, but then the rival group arrived with possibly around 200 people. Sia Po says the rival men pointed guns at them and he estimates 60 shots were fired.

Sia Po claims he didn’t have a firearm and says he quickly fled the scene. He asked police to review surveillance camera footage. Police searched his family’s home and did not find any illegal weapons or other evidence.

The Bangkok Post once called Sia Po the “Gambler King.” Sia Po has advocated for the legalisation of gambling and the government even asked him to be an advisor on a committee reviewing the gambling law.

Sia Po is also a former boxer and a so-called “net idol.” Various Facebook pages and accounts are under Sia Po’s name. One account posts photos of himself with stacks of cash, many 1,000 and 500 baht bank notes, saying that he will pay girls who “make me happy.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post| Facebook

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Bangkok

2 shot outside Bangkok massage parlour

Caitlin Ashworth

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2 shot outside Bangkok massage parlour | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: วิเวก เตาปูน อาสากู้ชีพ

Police are investigating a shooting at a Bangkok massage parlour where a person was shot in the neck and another person shot in the backside. Police have not identified the shooter, but a post by a Facebook user accused an alleged “well known gambler” of shooting the 2 people.

Police were called at 3am Wednesday to the Saree Sauna & Spa on Ratchapruek in the Phasi Charoen, a Bangkok district just across the west side of the Chao Phraya. A fight allegedly broke out around 10:30pm Tuesday between the 3 people. A person then allegedly pulled out a gun and shot the other 2.

The suspect has not been identified by police at this stage. Investigators are collecting more evidence and reviewing surveillance camera footage before naming a suspect and issuing an arrest warrant.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

Opposition MP slashes his arm in protest at treatment of anti-government activists

Maya Taylor

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Opposition MP slashes his arm in protest at treatment of anti-government activists | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Naew Na

An opposition party MP has slashed his arm in front of officials in Parliament, in protest at the treatment of political activists. Visan Techatirawat, a partY member of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, says the gesture was his own personal protest to oppose the government’s action against peaceful protesters at a rally in the capital on October 17. Police remain accused of using high-powered water cannons laced with chemicals to disperse the gathering, although police chiefs have denied using any chemicals.

Visan slashed his left hand and arm 3 times on the second day of a parliamentary debate aimed at finding a way out of the current political impasse. He says that, while he’s been in politics since 1986, he still doesn’t know how to solve the political problems facing the country and would rather shed his own blood than have the young protesters have to shed theirs.

Opposition MP slashes his arm in protest at treatment of anti-government activists | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

It’s understood the opposition politician used a fruit knife he’d borrowed from a maid in the parliament building. He says he did not announce his plans to anyone, including his family, before carrying out the act.

Nation Thailand reports that officials and others who witnessed the act were left shocked, with Parliament President, Chuan Leekpai, calling on first-aiders to help. Visan was subsequently taken to hospital and later apologised for the shock he caused. He says the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha must listen to the protesters, rather than resorting to the use of force and standing behind the fence of legal barriers put in place by the unelected NCPO.

Since mid-July, anti-government protesters, primarily students and the younger population, have been taking to the streets with a list of demands. They include the PM’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament, and fresh elections. They are also calling for a re-write of the 2017 constitution and for reform of the monarchy.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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