Monday, October 01, 2012

SALENG (2012, Wasunan Hutawach + Ukrit Pornsampansuk + Chulayarnnon Siriphol, documentary, 25min, A+)

SALENG (2012, Wasunan Hutawach + Ukrit Pornsampansuk + Chulayarnnon Siriphol, documentary, 25min, A+)

You can watch this film without English subtitles here:

Things I like very much in this film include:

1.How the film portrays the saleng people (people who buy recyclable garbage from houses) as ordinary people. The film treats its subjects as ordinary people, not second-class people, and show their lifestyle objectively. I mean the film doesn't try at all to make us feel pity for these people.

2.Though the film doesn't try to make us feel pity for these people, the film still shows us how difficult their lives are. These people have to work hard to support their families. Some of them have to do many jobs in order to make ends meet.

However, though their lives are difficult, their happy faces and their smiles in the film surprise me a lot. It seems to me that though their lives might be much more difficult than mine, they in fact might be happier than me, or may be not. The film doesn't try to say anything about this. The film just shows us their real faces, and when they seem to smile happily while giving interviews in the film, the viewers are left to conclude by themselves how happy the lives of these people are.

It's not only the saleng people that have difficult lives. Even the middlemen or the garbage dealers who buy garbage from saleng have difficult lives, too. One middlewoman in the film says that working with garbage means she doesn't have many chances to go outside the workplace and enjoy other activities, because she has to take a bath first, and after taking a bath, she feels too tired to go out.

3.The film shows us almost the whole process of this saleng business, starting from buying garbage from houses, selling it to the middleman (which in this film are two middlewomen), and re-selling it to the recycle factory.

4.I'm very surprised to learn from this film that there are many women who work as saleng. I used to assume that most of them are men. One female saleng in this film gives a good explanation that being a woman is an advantage in this business, because most people who sell garbage to saleng are housewives, and these housewives feel much more comfortable and safe to allow female saleng to enter their houses.

5.I like how the film gently portrays the environment around and inside the houses of these saleng people, especially at the beginning of the film. The film lets us look at the atmosphere in their lives. By showing us the atmosphere/environment of these saleng people, these saleng people become much more "human" in the film, instead of being just "a subject of the topic".

6.I like the voices of these saleng people very much when they shout for their business in the streets, and I like it that the film ends with a voice of these. Some of them should try singing, I guess. The voices of these saleng people also reminds me of the film SINGAPORE GAGA (2005, Tan Pin Pin, documentary).

7.There is something which affects me unintentionally in the film. Before I watched this film, I had assumed that most saleng people would sell books in a good condition to secondhand book shops first, and then sell the rest of the books to garbage middlemen. But this film shows us that the saleng people, or at least some of them, destroy books in a good condition instantly by ripping the cover off these books.

To know the fact about this recycle business makes me feel strangely sad. There is nothing wrong about this business. It just reminds me of one truth of the world, of nature, or of human life, that "Everything is temporary". To see books in a good condition in this film being destroyed reminds me of the strange sadness I feel when I saw the documentary WHEEL OF TIME (2003, Werner Herzog) and the film HUGO (2011, Martin Scorsese). In WHEEL OF TIME, we see an extremely beautiful sand mandala being created and destroyed to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.
In HUGO, we see that some films made by Georges Méliès are destroyed and recycled to make women's shoes.

Though the film SALENG isn't made to try to say something about this, this is unintentionally the most touching thing for me in the film. Good books, great films, everything, including our own lives, will one day turn to dust.


1.BANGKOK BEAUTY (2000, Wisit Sasanatieng)
2.CITIES ON SPEED -- CAIRO GARBAGE (2009, Mikala Krogh, Denmark)
3.GARBAGE PICKING เก็บขยะขาย (2010, Wachara Kanha, documentary, 19min)
4.THE GLEANERS AND I (2000, Agnes Varda, documentary)
5.ISLE OF FLOWERS (1989, Jorge Furtado, Brazil)
6.MANUFACTURED LANSCAPE (2006, Jennifer Baichwal, documentary)
7.OCEANS (2009, Jacques Perrin + Jacques Cluzaud, documentary)
The scene of the garbage floating in the ocean is the most impressive scene for me in this film.
8.THE PATH (2006, Ishtar Yazin Gutierrez, Costa Rica)
9.PINK HOME บ้านสีชมพู (2000, Suwan Houngsirisakul, 17min)
10.PUSHED (2010, Florian Schneider, Germany, documentary)
11.RUBBISH โลกขยะ (1997, Monchai Noikumsin, 25min)
12.SALENG (2012, (2012, Wasunan Hutawach + Ukrit Pornsampansuk + Chulayarnnon Siriphol, documentary, 25min)
13.SEVEN DUMPSTERS AND A CORPSE (2007, Thomas Haemmerli, Switzerland, documentary)
14.TAKE GRANNY MORN TO THE GARDEN พายายหมอนไปชมสวน (2011, Wachara Kanha, 30min)
15.WASTE LAND (2010, Lucy Walker, Brazil, documentary)
16.WASTELAND (2007, Megan Cossey, Thailand, documentary, 13min)
17.WORKINGMAN'S DEATH (2005, Michael Glawogger, documentary)

APPENDIX 2: Wasunan Hutawach's films in my preferential order:

1.LET'S EAT (2011, 11min)
2.DAW (2009, 7min)
3.LOVE ME LOVE MY DOG (2010, 8min)
4.A RAILROAD ENGINEER (2011, 8min)
5.THIS WAY (2010, 5min)
6.SMALL WORLD (2008, 17min)
7.SALENG (2012, (2012, Wasunan Hutawach + Ukrit Pornsampansuk + Chulayarnnon Siriphol, documentary, 25min)
8.THE VISITORS (2011, 2min)
9.HELL FACTORY (2008, 5min)

No comments: