[…] In a way, the stories evaporate and we find ourselves constantly going in and out of them, in and out the present narration, in and out the different films. Thus, film and time share this incompleteness as they are made from the same suggestive material; for both, it is a question of projection.
[…] This is a cinema that is far from the idea of the documentary (and from the misunderstanding of the objective documentarist); a cinema that exalts its proper essence: imagination.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
In the first part of the movie, we follow a filmmaker preparing her script through an interview with her subject: a writer who participated in the student protests against the dictator in Thailand in 1976, which lead to a horrible massacre that has tragically been forgotten today. Dao Khanong is a work about time, memory, and filmmaking. At a certain moment, the old writer starts to question the filmmaker in return about her motivations. This overturning marks the beginning of a diffraction and multiplication of paths and characters in the movie. The linear narrative starts to break up and we jump from one story to another, from one point in time to another, from one film to another.
Houses and apartments seem to represent the interior of the characters themselves from which they look into the past. Here, contemplation and confessions emerge as moments that punctuate a narrative marked by scenes of movement: in the car, on the scooter, and by foot. One may experience some frustration not being able to follow each of the stories. In a way, the stories evaporate and we find ourselves constantly going in and out of them, in and out the present narration, in and out the different films. Thus, film and time share this incompleteness as they are made from the same suggestive material; for both, it is a question of projection. Anocha Suwichakornpong doesn’t completely abandon the linear nature of the stories but she plays with it, and the lines are no longer only paths to follow but also paths to be imagined, as is the case when we realise we are lost.
Nevertheless, these scattered lines are connected by minor elements: mushrooms, the moon, garbage, the details of daily life, which play the role of a basso continuo. The coherence of this world is not absent, but silently present far off from the apparent picture of our projects and our will. One character, a simple waitress, is the only connecting figure to inhabit the entire film and the only character that is rooted in reality, and meaningfully outside of the world of film production. She is a “dream-cleaner”, in a way, or the light resistance against the flights of projections. Yet, she is also in search of some higher meaning in her life of small jobs, and buddhism seems to become her own projection…
«This film is my love letter to cinema» – Anocha Suwichakornpong tells us during the press conference. In her letter, in which she quotes Le voyage dans la lune by Georges Méliès, she places projection at the heart of cinema and at the heart of life. Even a tragic historic event like the student massacre of 1976 cannot help but become a subject of reconstruction. This is a cinema that is far from the idea of the documentary (and from the misunderstanding of the objective documentarist); a cinema that exalts its proper essence: imagination. Getting lost in the town Dao Khanong, and in the film Dao Khanong, is just the beginning of the voyage.
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Dao Khanong – By the Time It Gets Dark | Film | Anocha Suwichakornpong | THA-NL-FR-QAT 2016 | 105’ | Festival del film Locarno 2016 | Concorso internazionale
First published: August 11, 2016