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10/25 Press Conference featuring “Snap” from Competition Section


©2015 TIFF

When we first meet Pueng (newcomer Waruntorn Paonil), she is happily snapping selfies of herself, her meals and her travels, and uploading them immediately on Instagram with clever hashtags — establishing that, like most attractive young women of her generation, she’s living a great deal of her life online. She rarely puts down her cellphone, and when she’s not taking photos, she’s looking back through them. But Pueng does make time for her doting boyfriend, who clearly has a promising future. Yet when a face from her past comes into focus outside their café window, we immediately sense that she may not be as happy as she looks.
World premiering in the Competition section, the Thai film Snap is absolutely brimming with snaps, both old and new. As we meet Pueng’s friends from high school and journey with her back to her rural hometown for a wedding, a wealth of photos informs us about her formative years, from school yearbooks to family albums. And then there is the wedding photographer. He is the face seen from the café, and Pueng’s first love, Boy (Toni Rakkaen). He seems to be looking through his lens almost constantly, and the intimate-yet-distant profession suits his personality completely.
As Boy and Pueng take tentative steps to recapture their past, Snap has the surface sheen of a rather conventional romantic drama. But the film is set against a period of martial law in Thailand, and although the political machinations are never foregrounded, Pueng is pointedly the daughter of a military general, her boyfriend is a dashing lieutenant, and there are reminders of the nation’s turmoil everywhere.
At the press conference for Snap, prolific Thai writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee told reporters, “During the eight years covered by this film, there were two coup d’etats. We had many coups in the past, and the citizens and military were always in opposition. But these days, there are some people who support the coups. Against such a backdrop, I wanted to depict how people could build a relationship.”
Pop singer Waruntorn, making an impressive acting debut in the film, noted, “I’m attending university in the center of Bangkok, where all the coups and demonstrations have been taking place, and it affects me because they have to suspend classes. But my mom watches the news reports carefully so she can tell me when I need to go home early [if it may become dangerous].”
Kongdej, an international festival favorite since he moved from studio to independent filmmaking in 2011, is known for adopting different styles for each of his films, depending on the stories he tells. With Snap, he has created yet another look, conflating the innocence of the past with the bittersweet reality of the present, subtly contrasting both with the constant presence of martial law.
Asked about his relationship to still images as opposed to film, Kongdej confirmed that he views snapshots as a way to freeze memories, but said, “I wanted to show what Thai people are thinking about the situation right now. In the past, we used to take photos with film, but now we use digital. Yet there is this trend to age our photos, using applications like ‘Nostalgia.’”
Kongdej added that he was particularly intrigued by why more Thai women than men are using such applications. “I’m interested in what women are thinking when they post photos on Instagram and use SMS [all the time],” he laughed. “I was curious about which parts of their lives they were taking selfies or photos of, and how they were selecting those parts.”
“I think the director really understands women,” Waruntorn said. “There are a lot of stills on my Instagram, and maybe my personality is similar to Pueng’s. I saw the film for the first time last night, and somehow, it was painful for me.”
Ticha Wongtipkanon, who plays one of Pueng’s friends in the film, was quick to agree. “Yes, he really understands women,” she said. “I do upload photos every day to Instagram. I sometimes feel like he understands me better than I do myself.”
Like young women just about everywhere, those in Snap worry about work, marriage, babies, sex and growing older, but at 26, they already feel a heavy sense of nostalgia for the “sweet scene of the past.” Asks one character, “How come nothing’s as good as it used to be?”
The film reminds us that the answer is in how we have preserved and rewritten the past for ourselves. “The moments I wanted to capture most, I could not or did not take a photo,” lamented Kongdej. “The timing is always off for me. But I think a lot of people feel this way.”
[Karen Severns]

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)