Thai Indie Films

Written by Patrick Harney @pharnney

Bad Genius
Insects in the backyard
Tropical Maladay

Being an underdog in the Thai cinema industry, the growth of the Thai indie films is slow but far from being obsolete. With a new wave of directors achieving artistic success, this new crop of production houses have blossomed outside the traditional and often restrictive Thai studio system to create experimental short films, music videos and feature films. Below we have created a list of multiple Thai indie films you are sure to enjoy.

Bad Genius

Class exam scene on the set of Bad Genius

Starting off the list comes a feature film based on a true story about a top tier student who has the idea to start an exam cheating business. With the business being a success among their local school. They subsequently try to take on one of the biggest admission tests outside the country. The feature film itself is a fast paced, heist like movie which could compare itself to being similar to the notorious “Oceans 11”. Considering the director has had experience in music videos and shooting for advertising gave this movie the cinematography it needed. As the main character Lynn chooses to cheat with no guilt in exchange for “money”, the production house value is up there with the Hollywood standards and suits the thriller genre perfectly.

Insects in the backyard

Woman gazing an amazing sunset on the set of Insects in the backyard

Straying away from the norm of cinema is a feature film where directors took a different direction of this plot line. A story of a family unit full of brother and sisters find themselves lost within their own world. Confused about themselves and the love they try to search for brings the family back together, empathizing with one another. The feature film does not portray the culture of Thailand but rather the people who exist in it. Director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit took a deeper route into portraying the daily lives of these young adults in a city of their own. Although shot mostly in cities around southern Thailand the production house had the movie shoot on  several site locations of traditional Thai homes, neighborhoods, old condo buildings, and beautiful southern landscapes of mountains and water marks thus making this feature film not only a deep drama but a remarkable scenic masterpiece.

Tropical Malady

Man behind tropical bush staring out on the set of Tropical Malady

Saving the best for last, Tropical Malady has won countless awards for feature films. Director Apichatpong’s visionary film exists in dual realms, and with this split storyline a fractured love story is interrupted by a feverish night-time odyssey in the heart of the jungle where shape-shifting spirits and tigers take over. Showing when modern and ancient collide, the story is exciting and a powerful tale of desire and danger. We see the lush silent landscapes and the bustling city life, from dance hall karaoke to the cinema to the solitude of a quiet lake.

This 2 part film is aimed to get audiences guessing of what’s going to happen next and is a story about Thailand’s changing form of want and need. It forces reflection on questions like what form or body comprises love, is it purely physical or something more? The director’s experimental narrative style is bold to put into action. But in the end, it is praised by many viewers and can be compared to many famous movies.

If you want to know more about the film industry in Thailand then you must read our Film Industry in Thailand – A Producer’s Guide article.
Thumbnail photo by  Ian Dooley on Unsplash
Bad Genius photo from Coconuts Bangkok
Tropical Maladay photo from Spectrum Culture

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