During the period of political instability that led to the coups d’état in 2014, the independent cinema has become an alternative space for exploring political issues. With political issues having long been a taboo subject in Thai cinema, particularly during times of military control, many of the filmmakers choose to portray the issue in a subtle form. For this paper, I would like to take a closer look at some of the recent documentary independent films that were made and internationally shown after the 2014 coup d’état, particularly the most recent films, including By the River (Nontawat Numbenchapol, 2013), Railway Sleepers (Sompot Chidgasornpongse, 2016), and Phantom of Illumination (Wattanapume Laisuwanchai, 2017), and how each of them offers a subtle commentary on political issues and complex social issues as well as critiques of the Thai middle class. These films portray mostly the ordinary lives of country people that have become a fascination for Thai middle-class festival-goers as well as international audiences. The meditation on the mundane and the ordinary through visual imagery has also suggested a new construction of knowledge beyond storytelling and the symbolic system that comes with it. These films have opened up new realms of imagery and experience that help to reveal the complexity of the issues they attempt to portray.
Sopawan Boonnimitra, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Peerachai Kerdsint, Bangkok University, Thailand
Stream: Visual Communication
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