An Interview with Manutsak Dokmai (Director)
Fidelity to Myself Is Most Important in Filmmaking
Q: Tell me about the filmmaking process, starting from when you encountered the visuals.
MD: I work at a film archive, so I had the chance to see the images. Originally I’d embarked on film production through experimental film, so I was interested in giving it a try. First I came across the narration, which coincidentally comes from footage on the Yellow Banana Leaves Ghost (an ethnic minority group in northern Thailand) that was on the same tape. I was really lucky to have come across the narration. The music is a simple love song that uses simple instruments, and it was popular in the 1970s, when the incident happened. So after making the audio tape, I matched up the images. I like listening to music, so this is a work that fused together naturally, and the result is this kind of experimental documentary film.
Q: What are your thoughts behind this work?
MD: I’ve always liked reading books about history, and I’d had questions about why an incident like “Bloody Wednesday” happened. And as I read through a lot of different materials, I learned that there were a lot of confused points regarding this historical incident. In Thailand there’s a trend in society of trying to forget this incident, and not making it the topic of discussion, but I have questions about this too. The title of the film is also the title of the song, and of course it’s asking that you not forget this incident.
When making a film the most important thing is fidelity to myself. Perhaps I could have gotten some nice opportunities if I’d pushed myself further in making the work, but for me the most important thing is to do what I like, to do something that is true to myself. In that respect, it’s important for me to make films from an anti-Establishment perspective. I enjoy editing, but with this piece the more I edited, the more I felt pain from the images. It’s not a good method, but I included my own words in the work out of a feeling of being struck by the pain and striking back. For my next work, I’m thinking of filming from a right-wing perspective using a kind of ironic “paean to the right wing” approach.
(Compiled by Endo Akiko)
Interviewers: Endo Akiko, Ishii Rei / Interpreter: Takasugi Miwa
Photography: Suzuki Takafumi / Video: Ohara Yuki / 2005-10-10