Sunday, May 01, 2011


There are many things I like in Chaloemkiat's films, including:

1.The observation on female workers in HISTORY IN THE AIR (2009, 62 min) and "CHAY, GAYVAH-RAR 'N' THE MACHUPICCHU" (2010, 21 min)

2.The use of texts instead of direct voices, which unintentionally helps solving the problem of the imperfect sound systems, which is often found in alternative film screening venues in Bangkok.

Recently, I have found some problems with some films shown at Reading Room (such as RESIST by Teeranit Siangsanoh), films shown in the Siam Inception Program at Pridi Banomyong Institute (such as LOST by Yingsiwat Yamolyong), and films shown at BACC (such as HISTORY IN THE AIR), because I can't hear what the characters are saying. The sound volume is not low. It is loud, but the "speaking voices" is drowned by other noises in the films. The speaking voices in these films are frustratingly indistinct. I don't know if the problems result from the imperfect sound recordings by the filmmakers, or by the imperfect sound systems at the film screening venues, or by my imperfect ears.

I guess some cases result from the imperfect sound recordings or sound mixings by the filmmakers, and some cases result from the unfortunately bad matching between the film sound and the sound system at the venue. I know that some cases result from my own ears, because I couldn't hear what the interviewees were saying in the film CITIZEN TRAIN (2009, Arthawut Boonyuang + Kadnang Gohnoi) when it was shown in the Marathon Festival last year, but Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, who attended the same film screening, could hear it.

Whatever the cause of this problem, the filmmakers can help alleviate this problem by:

2.1 Reducing the speaking parts in their films

2.2 Using texts instead of voices, such as in Chaloemkiat Saeyong's films

2.3 Making subtitles, so that when we can't hear or understand the speaking voices, we can still follow what the characters are saying

3.The false endings

Chaloemkiat's films seem to have many endings before the real endings. The most obvious example is HISTORY IN THE AIR, which seems to have at least six endings in the film.

In HISTORY IN THE AIR, which is 62 minutes long,

3.1 The first ending happens at the second shot in the film, which occurs at the first second of the film. The first shot of this film shows a text saying "THIS IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY". The second shot of this film shows the word "END".

3.2 The second ending comes in at minute 18:28, when we see a text saying "Dedicated to Supaporn Konggrapee" appear on the screen, and then the film repeats all the Wikipedia texts which have already appeared in the first few minutes of this film.

3.3 The third ending occurs at minute 25, when we see what looks like the ending credit appear on the screen. I think this may be an unintentional parody of BLISSFULLY YOURS (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), because the opening credit of BLISSFULLY YOURS appears halfway into the film, while the ending credit of HISTORY IN THE AIR appears in the middle of the film.

3.4 The fourth ending occurs at minute 47, when the camera pans out to the runway, and the image of the runway is frozen for a while. The only thing that tells us that the frozen image does not occur by DVD malfunction is the soundtrack which keeps on moving.

3.5 The fifth ending occurs at minute 61, when we see the title of the film and some dedication texts appear on the screen, and then we see a black screen for about 30 seconds.

3.6 After the 30-second black screen, we see a very long text explaining why Chaloemkiat made this film. After this text, we reach the sixth ending, which is the real ending of this film.

4.The darkness, which occurs

4.1 At the end of PERU TIME (2008)


4.3 In the airport in the "time lapse scene" at minute 9 in HISTORY IN THE AIR

4.4 In the hotel room in CHAY, GAYVAH-RAR 'N' THE MACHUPICCHU. The room is not totally dark, but it is dimly lit.

4.5 In 3/4 of the film EMPLOYEES LEAVING THE LUMIERE FACTORY (2010). Darkness prevails in this film.

5.Chaloemkiat's films don't try to arouse emotions in the same way as other films.

Personally, I think it is interesting that there are many Thai filmmakers who make "atmospheric films", including Chaloemkiat, but their films are different. What makes Chaloemkiat's films different from other atmospheric Thai films includes the fact that Chaloemkiat's films do not arouse emotions in the same way as others.

The differences between these atmospheric Thai filmmakers may be observed by comparing their films concerning with sea. These films include:

5.1 AFTERNOON LANDSCAPE (2011, Chaloemkiat Saeyong)

This film might be one of my least favorite films of Chaloemkiat, but it helps point out what makes his films different from others'. The view of the sea in this film is almost devoid of emotions.

5.2 BIRTH OF THE SEANEMA (2004, Sasithorn Ariyavicha)
The sea in this film hypnotizes me.

5.3 DEATHLESS DISTANCE (2009, Taiki Sakpisit)
We hear a strange, powerful, haunting soundtrack when we see the image of the sea in this film. I think the strange soundtrack is one signature of Taiki's films.

5.4 THE ETERNAL LIGHT (2008, Tulapop Saenjaroen)
The sea in this film looks abstract and very beautiful, though these characteristics may not apply to other films by Tulapop.

5.5 FAKE FIELD (ทุ่งกำมะลอ) (2008, Paisit Punpruegsachart)
I'm not sure if this film shows some signatures of Paisit or not. I like the soundtrack of this film very much, though what I love in other films of Paisit is not the soundtrack.

5.6 JONAH WILL BE 35 IN THE YEAR 2010 (2009, Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa)

The sea in this film gives a poignant, melancholic feeling, which may be one characteristic of Wiwat's films.

5.7 NO ONE AT THE SEA (2005, Tossapol Boonsinsukh)

The sea in this film gives a very lonely feeling, which is one of the signatures of Tossapol's films

5.8 THE SAME OLD SEA (2008, Pisut Srimhok, 22 min)
Pisut Srimhok makes atmospheric documentary films, so the sea in this film is different from others because it is shown matter-of-factly to serve the documentary.

It is interesting to compare the sea in this film with the sea in I'M FINE THANK YOU AND YOU? (2008, Patana Chirawong, 87 min). Patana is also a documentary filmmaker, but he doesn't make atmospheric films like Pisut.
The sea in I'M FINE THANK YOU AND YOU? provides "the climax" for the film, but the sea in THE SAME OLD SEA doesn't concern with the emotional trajectory of the film. I think Patana's films tell stories, and may have "lessons" for the viewers, such as "you should help other people" or "you should be kind to other people", while Pisut's documentaries don't tell obvious stories and don't seem to have lessons for the viewers.

5.9 SCAR (2010, Arthawut Boonyuang)
The sea in this film "invites me to imagine some stories" concerning with the erotic story shown before the sea scene. However, this may or may not be a characteristic of Arthawut's film. I'm not sure.

5.10 WAKE UP TIME (2008, Chaiwat Wiansantia)

The sea in this film feels intimate, and gives a little bit warm, cozy feeling, which may be one characteristic of Chaiwat's films.

This is a photo from Chaloemkiat's graduation day. It is unlike other graduation day's photos I have ever seen in my whole life. I think this photo is a good representative of his films.

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