BANGKOK — A film about Thai-farang love during the Vietnam War, the making of a retro cowboy action flick, and a Cold War propaganda vilifying Communism are just some of the entries added to the national registry.
Ten films deemed culturally and historically significant or in danger of disappearing were filed to the nation’s film registry on Sunday, which celebrates Thai Film Preservation Day.
Orawan Chawasilp, a public relations officer at the Thai Film Archive, said that the chosen 10 films include both submissions from the public and those chosen by their panel of experts.
“The films chosen by us are largely footage that people don’t even know exist, but that we think is historically valuable,” Orawan said. “For example, the 1967 behind-the-scenes footage of ‘Nuea Kla’ show us what it was like to film a movie back in the day, with all of its difficulties.”
Also notable is a 1929 documentary of a Siamese Boy Scout delegate visiting Japan, and a 1975 one documenting then-prime minister Kukrij Pramoj’s trip to Communist China that ended years of hostility between the two nations.
This year’s 10 additions mark 10 years of the National Heritage film registry, which now has 210 films.
1“Visit of Siamese Boy Scout to Japan” (1929)
The oldest film added to the registry this year is a 16mm reel showing Siam’s Boy Scouts participating in camp activities in the Land of the Rising Sun. King Rama VI founded the Boy Scouts (look sua or “Tiger Cubs” in Thai) in 1911 as a children’s branch of the paramilitary Wild Tiger Corps.
2“Orders and Curses” (Kum Sung, Kum Saap, 1951)
This 16mm reel from the height of the Cold War is an anti-Communist propaganda film – one of the country’s first – made in the style of an old Hollywood movie.
3“Thai Information Service Film” (1954)
This short from the 50s is a rare example of newsreels that were shown just before films in theaters, in an era before home TVs were widely available. The clip shows Rama IX giving a speech, a foreing film star visiting Thailand, and hippos, elephants, and bears in a zoo.
4“Behind the Scenes of ‘Nua Klao’” (1967)
Huge film crews, gunfight stunts, and crowds milling behind light reflectors hoping for a glimpse of heartthrob Mitr Chaibancha are just some of the scenes shown in a rare look on the set during Thailand’s Golden Age of Cinema.
5“E Taen” (1968)
Directed by Prince Anusorn Mongkolkarn, the classic film “E Taen” has many tropes about class differences in Thai society, which can still be seen in today’s films and soaps.
6“MR Kukrit Pramoj Visits China” (1975)
The famed statesman lands on a Thai Airways plane then attends a banquet with Chinese deputy premier Deng Xiaoping in this historic footage, which documents the beginning of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Communist China.
7“Youthful Days” (Wai Ra Rerng, 1984)
Youthful Days shows what it was like to be a Thai teenager in the 80s, railing against the education system and listening to the latest cassettes.
8“That Woman’s Name is Boonrod” (Phu Ying Khon Nan Chue Boonrod, 1985)
1972: U-Tapao Airport. Boonrod works at a restaurant just across from the base full of US military, when one day Bob walks in.
During the Vietnam War, the large number of US military stationed in Thailand created demand for pubs, bars, and “rental wive.”
“The film is an announcement of the dignity of Thai women, full of flesh, blood, and never out of style,” the Thai Film Archive wrote.
9“Forget It, I Don’t Care (Chung Mun, Chun Mai Care, 1986)
Thai Film Archive describes “Don’t Care” as a record of Bangkok life during Thailand’s post-Cold War economic boom.
10“Time in the Bottle” (Wela Nai Kuad Kaew, 1991)
Six teens navigate their loves lives, Kahlil Gibran’s writings, and Jim Croce’s hit that gave the film its name – all while trying to come to terms with the 1973 popular uprising against the military government.
“We aren’t demanding a big house. We aren’t demanding a big car. We aren’t demanding a hundred million cash in the bank. We just want justice from the employer,” a young labor rights activist yells in the trailer.
The Thai Film Archive will soon upload the documentary-style shorts and films on the YouTube channel, and will organize a film screening of the full-length feature films in the registry in January.