An Interview with the filmmakers of 10 Years Thailand


10 years Thailand is an anthology of short films based on the 2015 Hong Kong film Ten Years, its by Thai directors Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnnon Siriphol and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The omnibus imagines their country a decade from now, with the escalation of the military dictatorship that has taken over since 2014. Each work contributes an episode that taken together, sounds a warning about the current political situation.

The film will be having its Asian Premiere at the Busan International Film Festival 2018, having already made its bow at Cannes earlier this summer.

The omnibus includes Sunset by Aditya Assarat which places an art gallery in collision with the military whilst a romance occurs in between. Wisit Sasanatieng's Catopia shows a world with the last human alive living among Cat people, whilst Chulayarnnon Siriphol's Planetairum is an 80s pop video styled short about boy scouts enforcing a regime of conformity. The last piece for the film screened in Cannes was Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Song of the City, that unfolds in Khon Kaen under an imposing statue of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, that orchestrated a coup in 1957 and became Thailand's Prime Minister. 

We caught up with the directors Aditya Assarat, Chulayarnnon and producer Cattelya Paosrijaroen for an interview after their premiere at Cannes 2018.

What inspired your work in 10 Years Thailand? Were they based on real events or something more personal?


Chulayarnnon
: I was inspired by my childhood from the 80s to early 90s when we were still in the analogue age. Communication was top down and more centralized in origin. One of my strongest memories was watching movies from VHS tapes which were very low-res and had a lot of "noise" in the image. Today, you can watch films in a digital way, from many sources and always hi-res. So my short film will take audiences back to the past again.

AdityaMy film was inspired by a real incident that happened last year in Thailand. A group of soldiers and police went to an art gallery and demanded that some pictures in the exhibition be removed. When I saw it in the news, it was accompanied by a photo a bystander with a lone soldier standing in the art gallery. So I just wrote my film inspired from that photo.

How did the previous 10 Years film affect or influence the making of this Thai version? 



Aditya: Nothing really, except that as I'm also the producer of the film, so I was aware that our film should carry on the political "brand" of the original. It was my intention that all our films should address the future as it pertains to our current political conflicts. But in terms of the story, each director had freedom to tell their own story.

Were you aware of each other’s script or vision when making the anthology? Did you influence one another in the process?


ChulayarnnonNo.I was asked to make a short about Thailand a decade from now. I never shared ideas with any of the other directors at all until we were all completed.

AdityaNo, I wasn't aware of anyone's story until I saw the finished products. That's also when we decided the order that the films would be shown.

The original 10 Years ran into problems with the authorities. Did you have to be careful or consider this in your approach?


Chulayarnnon: Thai politics has many conflicts that continue today. I think that art and cinema gives a channel to say what is often prohibited from being said using the creativity of the medium. Cinema asks questions, but its still up to the audience to reflect and find the answers for themselves. The filmmaker doesn't need to be so direct.


AdityaYes, somewhat. That's why Thailand is not a completely free country. You don't ever feel completely free to voice your true opinion. There is social pressure to conform to mainstream thinking and you can run into quite a bit of trouble otherwise. So as filmmakers, you already know where the boundary lies, so you end up self-censoring.

Aside from the topics of the films, did you discuss tones and genres since you have very different approaches?





Aditya
: N
o, we didn't discuss anything. Just very general rules that each short needed to consider politics and they all needed to be about 20 minutes long. That's it.

What sort of impact did it have in Cannes? Was it a different for a Western audience?



Aditya: Cannes reaction was good. I don't think people have trouble understanding it. Dictatorship is easily understood by everyone.

Realistically, do you think you have a chance to show this in Thailand? 


Chulayarnnon
: Yes, we will show it for sure.


Aditya: I give it at 50/50 chance.

Cattleya: This project is also about the filmmakers or artists questioning themselves about the self-censorship or the limit of freedom of expression. We have the Motion Picture Rating System in Thailand from P, G, 13, 15, 18, 20 and 'BANNED'. Realistically, some previous films before were not allowed to screen publicly in Thailand, so lets see what will happen.

Is the film meant to be a warning or do you feel it is an accurate portrayal of the difficulty that will be found in Thailand in a few years time?




Chulayarnnon: Its impossible to make a film about the future without considering the present since the future is just a product of the present anyway. My short asks a question more than anything else. How will we live in the future? Or if we don't want to live in a society that I portray, what can we do about it?

Aditya: I think its both. Currently we have been under military dictatorship for four years.  The military has also rewritten the constitution to ensure that they will have control over the next government, even after elections and this constitution was voted for in a referendum by a majority of citizens. We have been so let down by previous elected governments that many intelligent, reasonable people actually prefer a dictatorship. So yes, our film is also a warning of the dark side of this choice.

If you could pick another Southeast Asian country to create a 10 Years anthology film, where would it be?

Chulayarnnon
: Singapore. It's interesting how Singaporeans see the future in consideration of different peoples, resources, technology, education, and politics - both local and international.

Aditya
: Maybe Myanmar. I don't really know much about what's going on there so I would want to learn more.

Cattleya: Cambodia or Indonesia.

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