Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice - Himizu (Japan, 2011)
Born in Nakorn Rajasrima in 1973, Tanwarin, a graduate in French from Khon Kaen University and a former English teacher at a northeastern college before becoming a filmmaker, is a versatile and talented director, scriptwriter, producer, actor and acting coach. He has made several award-winning short films before moving to the big screen.
His debut feature film “Insects in the Backyard” (2010) was the first Thai movie to be banned after the first screening at Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 and Thailand’s premier screening at World Film Festival of Bangkok. The film was banned from general release under the Film Act B. E. 2551 by the rating committee under the Office of National Culture Commission in reason of containing an allusion to patricide and prostitution. "Insects in the Backyard" is a drama about a transvestite father, played by Tanwarin, whose teenage daughter and son have a confused sense of their own sexuality, and both enter the sex trade. The movie has vivid depictions of sexual acts. There's also a dream sequence of the son killing his father, which caused a negative reaction from censors.
In his latest film, It Gets Better (2012), Tanwarin takes a broader, more commercially appealing and far more subtle approach to addressing the issues of transsexuals than she did in her first feature. The film was a success and won many awards including Best Film from Thai Film Director Association. It was nominated for several Thailand National Film Association Awards including Best Film and Best Director.
The theme of homosexuality and taboo love may run close to his heart, but Tanwarin, who started dressing as a woman since high-school, or at least whenever he had a chance, is a filmmaker with a broader range of interest. His first short film, Waen (The Ring) in 2001, was named one of the 100 Thai Films Thai People Should Watch by the National Film Archive. He was also selected as the president of the Thai Film Director Association in 2012.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice : a Japanese film, Himizu (2011) selected by Mr. Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, an acclaimed Thai director of It Gets Better, Hug Na Sarakam , and Insects in the Backyard.
Himizu is a 2011 Japanese drama film based on a manga of the same name by Furuya Minoru and directed by Sono Sion, the controversial cult director whose previous works include Love Exposure, Noriko’s Dinner Table and Cold Fish. The film competed in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in 2011. At the festival, Sometani Shota and Nikaido Fumi received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor and Actress for their work in the film.
Sono Sion made his debut as a poet at only 17 years old. Afterwards, he enrolled at Hosei University, but left school in mid-course and began making 8 mm films. In 1987 he won the Grand Prize at the PIA Film Festival for his film A Man’s Hanamichi. Following his win he received a fellowship with PIA and wrote, directed and starred in numerous films which contained underachievers, serial killers and other outsiders. It was not until the 2001 film Suicide Circle when he truly became a well-known cult director. Suicide Circle is a satirical film dealing with pop culture, mass suicides, and a bewildered middle aged police detective.
Suicide Circle was a massive success and has set the tone for the rest of his films. He has continued to explore the darker side of modern Japan with a series of extreme titles including Strange Circus (2005) which features sexual and mental abuse and incest, a sequel to Suicide Circle , Noriko’s Dinner Table (2006) which deals with alienation and suicide, Love Exposure (2008) which can only be described as a religion-psycho-sexual mind melt and the psychological horror/comedy Cold Fish (2010).
Love Exposure and Cold Fish were the first two installments of his ‘hate trilogy’ which he finished off with Guilty of Romance (2011). While the hate trilogy is typical Sono with its dark themes, extreme situations, and violence, he tackled even grimmer subject matter with his adaptation of the manga Himizu (2011) which was shot in North Eastern Japan just after the earthquake and tsunami.
Although Sono shares the trait of being prolific and indulging in extreme cinema and focusing on outsiders, most of his stories share a greater interest in everyday life and the little people who exist in it. Even if the films take a turn into the darkest of territory with the blackest of humour and contain some of the goriest and most violent sequences on modern celluloid, the emotions, thinking and actions of the characters remain believable. No matter how horrific a film might become, the audience still recognise parts of themselves, the neglected shadow selves and the bits they try to suppress or wish that they had access to. The horror of living in an atomised society where everyone does not really know the darkness that exists in themselves and others that is the absurdity of life.
Event Date: 20 September 2014
Location: Auditorium, 5th floor
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