Focus – Anocha Suwichakornpong

Some of the most generous films in the world today are being made by Anocha Suwichakornpong. The great Thai filmmaker is the subject of the Focus section at the 6th edition of the Olhar de Cinema – Curitiba International Film Festival, which will take place June 7th-15th in the capital of the Brazilian state of Paraná.

The festival will present both of Suwichakornpong’s features, Mundane History (2009) and By the Time It Gets Dark (2016) – the second of which is receiving its Brazilian premiere – as well as a selection of her brilliant short and medium-length films. In addition to Suwichakornpong’s films, Olhar de Cinema will screen the recent World Cinema Project-sponsored restoration of Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), the celebrated Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s debut feature, which Suwichakornpong has selected to screen together with the international premiere of her beautiful early medium-length Ghosts (2005). The director herself will appear at Olhar de Cinema for screenings and a Masterclass between June 10th and 13th.

Suwichakornpong was born in 1976 in Thailand’s Chonburi Province. She lived in England during the 1990s, studied cinema in the United States at Columbia University, and has always brought a traveler’s eye to her delicate films, which constantly transform themselves to incorporate new stories and characters. Her early Graceland (2006) became the first Thai short film ever selected for Cannes, and her debut feature Mundane History (2009) won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam a few years afterwards. She has also had films premiere at other prestigious festivals such as Oberhausen and Locarno, where By the Time It Gets Dark – a fiction film about a filmmaker researching recent Thai political history – premiered in the International Competition.

She has become an essential figure among contemporary independent Thai filmmakers, several of whom have worked with her through her production company Electric Eel Films (http://www.electriceelfilms.com), which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Suwichakornpong has also recently cofounded Purin Pictures (https://www.purinpictures.org), an initiative devoted to producing films from throughout Southeast Asia.

“Anocha Suwichakornpong is a contemporary filmmaker who works with contemporary themes,” says festival director Antônio Junior. “The weight of history, the legacy of political activism against oppressive forces, the inability to act at times, and the beauty of simply living in the world even during painful moments all resonate in echoing, complementary ways throughout her films. She depicts our world with a mixture of memory and resistance, past and present, and the real and fantastic, embodying tendencies found both in fiction and in documentary cinema ever since the medium’s inception. Up to now, Anocha has been an alchemist in search of creating particular structures to realize the unique potentials in her characters and stories. And she is still inventing.”

Suwichakornpong herself continues, “I’m very happy and excited to have a retrospective in Olhar de Cinema. This will be my first visit to Brazil, a country that I would like to know better, perhaps through its cinema and the histories, lives, and dreams of its people. Cinema is a way of connecting oneself with the world and a means of archiving memories. Above all else, though, cinema is about sharing. I propose that we share moments together to create a collective memory that extends beyond borders and boundaries, a memory resilient to all forms of repression and discrimination. Let us live and remember.”

The list of films confirmed for the Focus is below. All films are directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong, unless otherwise noted.

 

By the Time It Gets Dark (Dao khanong) (Thailand/Netherlands/France/Qatar, 2016, 105min; copy provided by Luxbox)

Nightfall (Thailand, 2016, 16min, co-directed by Suwichakornpong and by Tulapop Saenjaroen; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Overseas (Pohn talay) (Thailand, 2012, 16min, co-directed by Suwichakornpong and by Wichanon Somunjarn; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Lunch (Singapore, 2010, 28min; originally part of the omnibus feature Breakfast Lunch Dinner; copy provided by Wormwood Films Pte. Ltd. and Tay Bee Pin)

Mundane History (Jao nok krajok) (Thailand, 2009, 79min; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Like. Real. Love. (Thailand, 2008, 40min; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Black Mirror (Thailand, 2008, 3min; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Graceland (Thailand, 2006, 18min; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Ghosts (Thailand/U.S.A., 2005, 35min; copy provided by Electric Eel Films)

Mysterious Object at Noon (Dokfa nai meuman) (Thailand, 2000, 84min, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul; copy provided by the Cineteca di Bologna)

 

The Focus has been curated by Aaron Cutler, one of the three features programmers for the Olhar de Cinema – Curitiba International Film Festival.

The festival’s full program will be announced on May 12th. Information about the 6th edition of the festival can be found at http://olhardecinema.com.br/2017/en/.