A New Perspective on Holiday Memories
Text: Marjo Rämö
Photo: Jenniina Palola
Translation: Heidi Hietaniemi
Finland has been taken over by a Thailand craze, as has been witnessed by Thai director Chalida Uabumrungjit, who is a member of the International Competition Jury. By the end of her very first day in Finland, she had already met a number Finns who had been to Thailand on holiday.
For the Finnish tourist, Thailand sums up in a few words: holiday, friendly people, buddhism, sex tourism and spicy cuisine.This year, there has been a new addition to the list: chicken flu.
Chalida doubts whether the Film Festival screenings on Thailand will make a fundamental difference on the Finns’ views on the country, but she hopes, however, that the films will provide a wider perspective on the Thai culture. In addition she promises that the 24 films on Thailand will present phenoma which the average tourist won’t encounter.
The festival week starts with historical film clips, which portray for example the royal glamour of Siam.
”In the first films, the audience will see the beautiful Thailand as they know it, with its buddhist temples and all”, Chalinda says.
The screenings at the end of the week and on the weekend will include documents and fiction from the 21st century , providing the Finnish audience with new aspects to the Thai culture.
Whenever traveling abroad, Chalida is constantly asked to comment on the sex tourism phenomenon which is often linked with her homecountry. Pink House, a fiction film by Suwan Huangsiriakul, examines the subject from a child prostitute’s point of view. Miami Strips - A Hollywood Dream by Lee Chatameticool is about a prostitute’s dream.
Thailand is known as home of Buddhism.
Chalida reminds us that the Thai culture is very conservative, and sex is a taboo that is not discussed publicly. Therefore the fiction film of a young boy’s sexual curiosities, by Pakpoom Wongpoom, is somewhat radical to the Thai audience. Chalida suspects, however, that in the country of the sauna-culture, where people are used to nudity, the film won’t be that shocking at all.
Chalida also brings up the fiction film My Elephant by Songyos Sukmakana, in which the hierarchy between a teacher and a student is threatened by the student’s talent. Chalida considers the film a perceptive depiction of the hierarchical system of the Thai society.
Festival News, Friday 5 March 2004