Ownership and right to ownership
This age-old question is debated in Prabda Yoon's new feature, which has just premiered at The Tokyo International Film Festival
Despite typhoon Lan’s best efforts to disrupt life in the Japanese capital last week, the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival kicked off as scheduled on Wednesday successfully with the screening of a 10-minute excerpt from Chinese auteur Chen Kaige’s latest, “Legend of the Demon Cat”, slated for release next year, and Fumihiko Sori’s live action version of the well-known anime “Full Metal Alchemist”.
Thai movies were once again in evidence at this year’s event, with three selected for screening in festival programmes outside the main competition. The Asian Future competition, which focuses on first and second time Asian filmmakers, saw the premiere on Sunday of Prabda Yoon’s second feature “Someone from Nowhere”. Also showing in the section are Wichanon Somunjarn’s “In April the Following Year, There was a Fire” and Kirsten Tan’s “Pop-Aye”. Cinema enthusiasts will remember that in 2015, Pimpaka Towira’s “The Island Funeral” picked up the Best Asian Future Film Award.
A low-budget project produced by Cattleya Paosrijaroen and Soros Sukhum’s 185 Films, “Someone from Nowhere” takes place in a single room. At a condominium somewhere in Bangkok, Napatsorn (Chayanit Chansangavej), a young woman in her 20s, is about to go to work when she finds a man (Peerapol Kijreunpiromsuk) lying injured in front of her door.
As the man enters her room, Napatsorn starts to realise that he isn’t there by accident. He intends to reclaim his ownership of the room, even though Napatsorn insists she bought the studio apartment and is the rightful owner. The confrontation between the two culminates in an unexpected situation.
“This film stems from an idea that has been with me for a long time”, says Prabda of his inspiration for the feature. “I wanted to write a story about someone who takes over the front doorstep of other people’s houses and then intrudes, developing a relationship with the owner without the two knowing each other before.”
“Somewhere from Nowhere” is in essence a film about ownership and the right to ownership, a situation that can happen to both an individual and a nation. “As an artist, I use the film to question ownership of imagination and the borders between truth and reality. And even while I was writing the screenplay, disputes flared up all over the world, like with Japan’s ownership of an island,” Prabda explains.
One of the most important props is the print of Henri Rousseau’s painting “The Snake Charmer”.
“Rousseau had very an interesting background. He wasn’t trained professionally as an artist and I think it’s interesting how he never went anywhere, but was able to paint things he had never seen in his real life. It fits with the concept of the film. I also like his works and finally I am able to use his work in my film,” Prabda says.
Just as in his previous picture, “Motel Mist”, Prabda decided to work with new faces rather than big stars, choosing for “Someone From Nowhere”, Chayanit “Pat” Chansangavej, a new generation actress from GDH’s television series “Project S”.
Chayanit, who is making her feature film debut in “Someone from Nowhere”, came to Tokyo to walk the red carpet, but left early as she was committed to filming a TV show in Korea.
“This film has many limitations in time and budget. I had very short time for the casting process. I had seen Chayanit’s work and asked her to come for the casting. I decided very fast that it had to be her,” Prabda says.
The mysterious man is portrayed by stage actor Peerapol “Apom” Kijreunpiromsuk.
“I had seen Apom’s performance and felt he would understand the concept of this film, and I asked Apom and Chayanit to act together. They had the kind of on-screen chemistry I was looking for so I decided to choose them.”
Apom adds that working with Prabda was a dream. “Some directors are not always clear about what they want to do, but with Prabda, we talked about what he wanted in the film before we started work. Prabda guided me well during the filming and working with him was easy.”
The world premiere of “Someone from Nowhere” at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills was packed. Ishizaka Kenji, the programming director of Asian Future section at Tokyo International Film Festival. said he was excited to have one of Prabda’s works in his selection.
“His books have been translated into Japanese and we all are very interested to see what he comes up with for the big screen. Maybe he can create a trend like Apichatpong Weerasethakul. I think it will be interesting to see what he makes in the future.”
“We are so proud to have Prabda film in the selection as the movie is very charismatic. It is very unique, very artistic and I enjoyed it a lot,” added Yoshi Yatabe, the programming director of Main competition section of Tokyo International Film Festival.
“He is already a well-known Thai writer and through his film, the Japanese audience will discover more about him.”
The 30th Tokyo International Film Festival ends on Friday with the announcement of the winners in all programmes. The film that takes home the Best Asian Future Film Award will also receive US$10,000 (Bt340,000).