NEW YORK, April 27, 2011 – On the eve of Asia Society's film series Blissfully Thai (May 13 - June 17, 2011), Thai film director/producer Mingmongkol Sonakul sat down with series curator La Frances Hui to reflect on the development of Thai cinema since the late 1990s.
As the director of I-San Special (2002) and 3 Friends (2005, with Aditya Assarat and Pumin Chinaradee), and also a prolific producer who has worked on Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), Pimpaka Towira's One Night Husband (2003), Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Invisible Waves (2006), among others, Mingmongkol has a vast inside knowledge of current non-mainstream Thai cinema.
During this exclusive interview, Mingmongkol mapped out the key players who all emerged in the late '90s, when Thai film studios had lost their audience and few films were made each year, to create a vibrant and innovative film community. Aside from filmmakers like Apichatpong, Pen-ek, Nonzee Nimibutr, and Wisit Sasanatieng, Mingmongkol also credited producer Duangkamol Limcharoen, film critic Kong Rithdee, and the roles played by the Thai Film Archive, Thai Film Foundation, and the Thai Short Film and Video Festival for cultivating talent and creating a network of support.
While young filmmakers share the same fighting spirit that led to a reinvention of Thai cinema, individually they have pursued very different artistic visions, making Thai films some of the most diverse and exciting contemporary work anywhere in the world. Looking back at the late '90s, Mingmongkol credited the filmmakers' "fearless" attitude, which helped create a platform for Thai films to go "further and bigger."
Asia Society's Blissfully Thai film series is presented in association with Cineaste. Major support for this film series is provided by the Thai-US Partnership Program of Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thai Artists Alliance, and the New York State Council on the Arts.