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MALILA is a Thai independent film project produced by G Motif Production and Amfine Production. Am Fine Production is a film production established by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit. In the past few years, Am Fine Production has produced 'It Gets Better', an award-winning critically acclaimed film.
According to this co-production, we see a huge potential from this Malila project in regards to the mood of fine art of which is strongly reflected the uniqueness of Thai, as well as the prospect to penetrate our expertise into the film industry in the near future.
Malila is a story of love, life and death between a gay couple combined with a traditional Thai Bai Sri art and Buddhist philosophy. The story is divided into two parts. The first part is about love, longing and recalling the painful memories. Two gay men who once were lovers are trying to heal the pain of their contemporary lives by reviving their old romance through the fabricating of the traditional Thai Bai Sri: a traditional Thai ornament which is made of banana leaves and flowers and symbolizes love and virtue. The second part is about the journey of two wandering monks through the forest and cemetery along Thai-Burmese border. The purpose of the wandering is to practice the Asupakhamathan or “meditation with corpses” in order to be free from the pain of life. Both parts, which share the same protagonist, reflect and contradict each other. It is a binary opposition between love and death; beauty and mortality; Bai Sri and corpses.
Pitch is a gay man who sees his love life falling apart because of his incurable cancer. To heal himself spiritually, Pitch dedicates the time he has left to make Bai Sri, traditional Thai ornament made of banana leaves and flowers used in Thai blessing and ordination ceremony. For him, the Bai Sri will symbolize his love and spirit. One day, Pitch comes back to his hometown to host an ordination ceremony. Here he meets Shane, his ex-boyfriend for the first time after the break up. In the past, since Pitch wanted to leave his hometown and move to Bangkok, Shane decided to marry a woman. After the wedding, Shane inherited a part of his family’s land to garden jasmines. One day his daughter was killed by a python, and this tragic loss ended up by breaking the bond between Shane and his wife. Shane was left alone and has become miserable ever since. Also his jasmine garden was deserted. When Shane meets Pitch and his Bai Sri, he feels nostalgic for the love they once had and wants to change his life. First, Shane wants to resurrect his jasmine garden. Then, he wants to be ordained to become a monk for a short period in order to dedicate the merit to his dead daughter. After that, he plans to spend the rest of his life with Pitch. By that, Pitch keeps his effort in making the Bai Sri for Shane's ornament ceremony. Pitch also hides his sickness from Shane and lures Shane that they can have a bright future together. However, the plan cuts short since Pitch is worsen by his sickness and Shane finds out about Pitch’s cancer. Maddening by Pitch's fake promise and being afraid of losing another person in his life to the hand of death, Shane decides to destroy Pitch's Bai Sri, leaves Pitch and plans to become a monk for the rest of his life. While Shane is trying to find the peace of mind through the monkhood, Pitch dies. When Shane knows about this, the memories of all the love ones in his life come back to haunt him.PART 2
On the hill of the Thai-Burmese border, where the conflict between the soldiers and the minority groups are always erupting, the monk Shane wanders with the other older monk, Sanchai. In Thailand, there is a kind of monk who wanders through the hill, the forest and the cemetery as a form of meditation. Caused by the death of his daughter and his lover, Pitch Shane wanders with Sanchai in order to be free from the pain of love. This wandering as meditating is a serious hardship. Shane and Sanchai must endure the physical pain and the mental pain. The journey in the forest makes Sanchai ill while Shane is unsure about his decision to perform this practice. Then, they reach their goal: the cemetery. At this place, Shane practices Asupakhamathan, a form of meditation which the monk must look at corpses for a very long time in order to contemplate the uncertainty of life. Shane can't help vomitting and almost passes out. The image of the corpse becomes illusion making him think of Pitch’s body. One night, Monk Sanchai is worsen by his sickness and becomes unconscious. Shane tries to help but instead it opens his physical desire he has for his mentor. Monk Sanchai gets up without noticing what happens and continues Asupakhamathan. Shane sees Monk Sanchai cries his heart out to the body and begins to lose faith. Shane also sees the same corpse but for his version, the corpse appears to be Pitch in a very sick condition crying out for the love he never has. To earn forgiveness, Shane caresses Pitch's body which soon reveals its original state, a corpse. While Shane reaches the goal of Asupakhamathan, Sanchai dies from his sickness. This is the third time that the important persons in Shane's life passed away suddenly, but this time Shane calmly understands the fragility and suffering in human's life.
I see MALILA as a poem intertwined by Buddhist philosophy, Thai culture, and gay love. From my culture, these three things, of course, cannot go together and that is the aspect that I like to challenge. I love to play with the comparison/contrast/conflict between these three elements. Telling gay love story with Buddhist philosophy is like putting a spin to a very conservative value. Having said that, I have no intention to attack Thai culture or Bhuddism. This film is a way that I dream of the state of utopia where every contradicted elements can co-exist peacefully and tenderly.
I wish to present the fragility in human. These characters are aware of everything, truly understand what happened in their lives but somehow are unable to control their souls to be free from the suffering. This is the mystery that I see in life and I want to explore it in cinema.
THE ART OF BAISRI
Bai Sri is a beautifully shaped ornament made of Banana leaves and flowers. It is widely used in Southeast Asia in sacred ceremony from the ancient time. Bai Sri is believed to be the tool in connecting human beings with their spirits.
What this art fascinates me is not the beauty in a Thai traditional way but the fragility and the mortality of it. The Bai Sri is not anything that can last long but flowers which will be withered in a short period. I am really surprised by this contrast.
In this film, there will be a part that I will present the fabrication of this art from start to finish. The film will start with an extreme close up of leaves and little petals, twisted and turned to be various figures by human hands. Petal to petal becomes Bai Sri
Like any magical realism, Bai Sri is not only flowers but has an magical impact on human. When the story continues, Bai Sri will be emphasized as if it has a life of its own. It will also connect with character's emotion, narrative incidents, and delicate spiritual image. The fragility and mortality of Bai Sri will be presented outstandingly in the scene that it is destroyed. It will be told with a long take of characters throwing the destroyed Bai Sri into a river. What we are going to see is the withering thing, but not in beautiful way. It will realistically decay, fall to pieces, be disgusting and beautiful in the same time as life
ASUPAKAMATHAN (Meditation with Corpses)
Several years ago, I was ordained as a Buddhist monk for one month. At that time, I had to sleep in a very interesting room. This room was decorated with a human-size glass box which has a skeleton inside. On the wall, there were photos of monk's corpses in various states. Instead of being afraid of, I was seduced by these images and I could peacefully and calmly sleeping this room.
I think the experience in that room can be compared to Asupakamathan. Asupakamathan is one of the most important meditation practices in Buddhist tradition. The goal of the practice is to reach nirvana. I want to present Asupakamathan in a very cinematic way. I want to show a corpse on a screen in a way that have not been done before. This is a corpse, not a ghost. There is no horror effect, scary sound or exciting montage. It's just a corpse in its natural state. In my film there will be scenes that both the protagonist and the spactators gazing the corpses together. The long take and the point of view shots gazing at corpses will bring the unexpected experience to the cinemagoers in an unexpected way.
Like the unexpected death of Marion Crane in Hitchcock's Psycho, the death of Pitch, the protagonist in the first part of Malila, will change the film into another direction. His absence will also haunt the rest of the film.
The film is divided into two parts – not only in narrative but also in style. The first part is told like a romantic love story. The contemporary storyline will be poetically juxtaposed with fragments of memories and nostalgic flashback. I will choose to film in natural light, especially in the morning and evenning, as known as, the magic hour. The tenderness of natural lighting will make the film calmly and poetically. My inspiration comes from the visual element in Terrence Malick's film which combines the natural light with camera movement and the character's emotion.
The second part will be told in a different style. While the narrative in the first part is told like a memory, the narrative in the second part is very chronological and has no flashback. The pacing is slower. I also want to present the story with minimalism. It's just two characters walking through nature. The lighting is natural and there is not much of camera movement. Most of the visual will be told with a static shot. Characters will become a part of the calmness in nature.
Altough the two parts are divided seperately, they also connect through the character's development and visual-audio direction. In my direction, the memory of the first part will grow in the second part. I will use the visual and especially the sound design to show the connection in details between the first part and the second part
Born in Nakhon Phanom,north-eastern Province of Thailand, in 1981. Anucha Boonyawatana is the Thai independent film director and also founder of G-Motif Production,one of the largest video production company in Thailand. His final academic year film "Down The River", combination of Buddhist philosophy and Thai art and a love story of a gay couple, won Young Thai Artist Award and has been shown at several film festivals. He collaborated with TUC, Thai-American Public Health Agency(under the US government) and UNESCO to direct the online movie “Love Audition1,2” aim to promote health and relationships among Thai gay teenagers.FILMOGRAPHY
In 2012 his short film “Erotic Fragments No.1,2,3” wa s competed for Golden Berlin Bear in the 62th Berlin International Film Festival.
2011 Erotic Fragments No.1,2,3
The 62th Berlin International Film Festival - The Berlinale Shorts Competition.
The 15th Thai Short Film & Video Festival - Special Mention Prize
The 26th Mix Milano Film Festival,Italy
The 18th LesGaiCineMad Madrid International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Spain
Cinema Queer Film Festival,Sweden
The 8th InDPanda International Short Film Festival,Hong Kong
Kandy International Film Festival,Sri Lanka
Asian Queer Film Festival, Japan
2010 Love Audition 2
2007 Love Audition 1
2006 The Sun Lover
2006 Boy’s Love
2004 Down the River
Young Thai Artist Awards Grand Prize in Film Category
Vichitmatra Award :The 8th Thai Short Film & Video Festival
Kodak Film School Competition Award:The 8th Thai Short Film & Video Festival
Asianna International Film Festival, South Korea
The 10th Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Festival,Hongkong
The 4th Q! Film Festival, Indonesia
Bangkok International Film Festival, Thailand
Tout a fait Thai, France
The 2nd InDPanda Short Film Festival, Hongkong
Asian Queer Film Festival, Japan
2002 The White Diary
2001 Scarlet Desire
John Badalu has been working in the media since 1994. From an Account Executive in an ad agency, festival programmer/consultant to producer. He was also a freelance journalist for a few years between 2000-2004. He is one of the founders of Q! Film Festival in Indonesia - the first ever controversial queer film festival in the predominantly muslim country. He has co-produced a few films like Parts of The Heart (Paul Agusta, 2012, premiered in Rotterdam), Peculiar Vacation and Other Illnesses (Yosep Anggi Noen, 2012, premiered at Filmmakers of The Present Competition in Locarno Film Festival) and What They Don't Talk About When They Talk About Love (Mouly Surya, 2013, Premiered at World Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival). Badalu has served as a jury in prestigeous festival like Berlin Film Festival, Bangkok International Film Festival, and Rome Asian Film Festival.
Thitipan was working as international project director for musical housed in Muang Thai Rachadalai Theatre e.g. Cats(2007), Cinderella(2008), Chicago(2009), The Gazillion Bubble Show(2011) and Trockadero(2012)(housed in Siam Paragon).He is one of the founder of Amfine Production producing the first feature film “It Gets Better”. In 2012, Thitipan write, direct and produce his own online movie “Love Next Door”.
Graduated from Faculty of Arts of Chulalongkorn University, Donsaron Kovitvanitcha does many jobs in Thailand's independent film scene. He works as a film writer, critic, and journalist for many magazines in Thailand such as FILMAX. He also works as an independent film producer, focusing on producing films from new talented Thai film director. He is the co-producer of 'Boundary', a creative documentary film by Nontawat Numbenchapol which was screened at Forum Section of Berlin International Film Festival in 2013. He also co-produced 'Mother', a film by young new Thai director Vorakorn Ruetaivanichkul, which was invited to Vancouver International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival in 2012.
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit was born in 23 October 1973 in Korat, Thailand, majored in French and English from Khon Kaen University. Tanwarin then found the ways to express her artistic ability in her first short film “Ring” in 2001 and few more in later years as an acting coach, scriptwriter and director until her first feature film “Insects in the Backyard” in 2010 that she directed and starred. While Insects in the Backyard was banned by Thai rating committee for the reason that the film contains an allusion to patricide and prostitution, it was recognized by international festival such as Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 and Tanwarin has also been invited to speak about human rights and gay characters in films. Tanwarin became one of a rising Thai directors as she directed mainstream films such as Tai Hong (2010) and Hug Na Sarakham (2011). In 2011 Tanwarin became one of the founders of Amfine Production producing the very first feature film “It Gets Better” released in Bangkok, Thailand in 14 February 2012. Today Tanwarin is a President of Thai Film Director Association aiming to strengthen Thai film industry, proposing policies that support creating business opportunities for Thai filmmakers and offering variety of film concepts for viewers.
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