STOP10: You've Got Me Stumped by Kiattisak Kingkaew

You've got me stumped, directed by Kiattisak Kingkaew, was screened as part of the 22nd Thai Short Film and Video Festival 2018.

The film tells of a dilemma faced by Toey, a good student nominated for the Royal Student Award, as he tries to come to terms with his sexuality and abnormal fetish.

While we might be stumped in the understanding of a sexual interest towards amputees, the terms Acrotomophilia and Apotemnophilia are no stranger to Kiattisak Kingkaew.

SINdie's Christine Seow spoke to director Kiattisak about his work.

What is the inspiration behind your film?

I’m quite a shy guy and I always keep myself in a safe space. I usually don't express my opinion, but in a film, I would like to. It’s a safe place for me to share something on my mind.

So in this film, I want to show the things that smoulder in my heart. The story and characters are collected from many pieces of the situation in my life. I was an excellent student that was chosen to represent the ‘Royal Student Award’ of the school. I also have a non-general sexual orientation.

Other people think these two characteristics couldn’t be the same person, especially people in my social circle who believe in the binary concept. But why couldn’t I be like that? So I realised that there is an idea that covers Thai people. This is because role models portrayed through education are not from diverse backgrounds.

What was interesting to me was the sex scene between Toey and Pete, in which there was a ghost story on a radio programme playing offscreen. What was the motivation behind that?

The sex scene is a recollection from my life. During my virgin experience, a ghost story on a radio was playing. It’s a little bit weird but also the sexiest memory of my life.

When I think of the scene, I would like to highlight the feeling of the story in a short manner and intended it to impact audiences. Toey and Pete may find it normal but others might think it’s very strange.

Also, the ghost is the one who has no body, who have lost all stumps and organs. I wondered if there is no one better than the ghost that could represent the idea of getting stumped.

What does an amputation (e.g. the amputated leg/finger) signify to Toey? How does that stimulate him sexually?

Through research, it shows that ‘Acrotomophilia’ is an individual sexual interest in amputees. Like a fetish, it’s a normal desire. There are many people who are attracted by non-general sexual desires but are unable to tell others. Some can’t even think about it as it is viewed negatively by our culture.

It is Toey's safe zone and the way he expresses himself. His sexual desire is an imperfect part of him and might be putting him in a bad situation if it is revealed. Thus Toey has no choice, he must choose who he will be. The excellent guy or the pervert guy.

I've read an article stating that you would like to amputate your body in order to find your true self. What do you mean by that?

When I made the movie, it was like an operation on myself. I saw how I was growing up, and how much I changed. I was the one who followed convention. I grew up in a country where people had no questions to anything. I felt against too many different things but haven’t told anyone. I tried to suppress that feeling. Until I met a new environment that allowed me to share and criticise everything. So I wanted to discover what made me like that. What made me pretend to believe it? What was I afraid of?

There is a term of ‘Apotemnophilia’ which is opposite to an ‘Acrotomophilia’. Apotemnophilia is a person who has an intense desire for amputation on his own limbs. So I imply that that would be me, someone who wants to cut their limb. I might be an amputee or imperfect but it’s my true self that I want to live with.

Toey seems to have a lot of ongoing dilemmas regarding his sexuality as well as being a nominee for the Royal Student Award. Do you think that being awarded as a student representative and being gay is mutually exclusive in our society?

No one might question Toey's sexuality as long as he pretends that he has no problem with the ideal system. In Thai society, they believe that if you are gay or LGBTQ you should be the good person. If you are gay and you aren’t a good guy, you will be worse than the other one.

The problem is not the diversity of sex but it is the diversity of opinion. So if you question the ideal system or if you pay attention to the liberal politics, you will be judged like you have an abnormal mentality. Also, the qualification of an awarded student must be best at every point even regarding your mental health.

The film seems to point out many issues; Toey's sexuality, his relationship with his brother and possibly father, as well as his dynamics with the school/his teacher, all of which are not addressed by the end of the film. If you could address one issue, what would your stance on it be?

If I will address one issue, it will be an education problem because it’s the social issue that has an effect on our personal lives. The school is a representation of society. It is a place of power to control you and change your thoughts to the way society prefers, where you don't question anything. They'll force you to change even your hair, your nails, your eyeglasses.

But eventually, Toey will reject this societal education because he has own thinking.

The interview with Kiattisak has been edited for length and clarity.

Written by Christine Seow
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