Weird and freaky II

15 05 2018

As part of its Cannes Review, the Film Stage blog refers to the Ten Years International Project which seeks to give articstic and political voice to Asian filmmakers. The first is Ten Years Thailand featuring Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wisit Sasanatieng, Aditya Assarat, and Chulayarnnon Siriphol.

Aditya’s opening salvo “could easily take place in the present. Shot in black-and-white, it is set in a small art gallery that is hosting a photography exhibition. A group of soldiers arrive and order the pictures to be taken down despite the curator and artist’s protests that there is nothing problematic on show.” The only moment of “optimism” is a young soldier’s romance with a member of the cleaning staff at the gallery.

From there, things “get weirder and more sinister…”. Cat heads hunting down humans in a weird metaphor of the current political situation and then a “futuristic boy scout group led by a woman in a pink military uniform lives in a brightly colorful compound reminiscent of Teletubbyland.” This land has massive surveillance. Thailand knows a pink man, it knows men in uniform and surveillance is a fact of life, so the links to Thailand as an unreality land come to mind.

Then there’s Apichatpong’s short, set in a park that appeared in his last feature, Cemetery of Splendour, where he portrays the grim and melancholy specter of military domination, epitomized in a park (country) that is being remade (reform) by bulldozers (the dictatorship) and watched over by a statue of Marshal Sarit Thanarat. As the film ends, a character is solemn as he looks to the statue, There seems little that suggests hope for reform by 2028.


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