See also: The BK Film Awards 2017

How has the Thai film industry performed over the past year?

Just like everyone else, I’ll say it was not a good year. A couple of years ago there were so many movies like Pee Mak Phra Khanong [2013] that fetched huge revenues at the box office. This could just be part of a cycle. The Thai movie industry boomed 20 years ago and was good for about 10 years before slumping. Right now Thai commercial movies have a bad reputation among viewers due to an extended track record of disappointment. With prices at the cinema going up and up, people really have to make the right choice. If you go to a good cinema, B500 might not be enough for two people nowadays. Thai movies aren’t the only casualties. Hollywood is affected, too. Many international films don’t make money, like Jackie [2016], even if that’s not a reflection of their quality. Some Thai films make only B500,000 in cinemas.

What impact does the limited number of cinema operators have on Thai film? 

They are part of the problem. We have only two main cinema operators and our tastes are controlled by them, which means lots of Hollywood blockbusters. The operators choose which movies to screen and the length of time they’ll be showing. When a big superhero film arrives, the cinemas will prioritize it. You could say this is the right decision from a business perspective, as they need to make money. It’s not good in terms of culture, though. That’s why there is an ongoing conversation about whether we should set a Thai screening quota, like what happens in South Korea or France. But it might be too late to be effective now.  

Why do you think that is?

We missed the opportunity to set a clear vision for the Thai film industry 10 years ago when the scene was buzzing thanks to directors like Nonzee Nimibutr and Pen-ek Ratanaruang, the rise of GTH and Phra Nakorn Film. We need a more sustainable long-term vision to support new filmmakers, establish audiences with varied tastes and introduce alternative cinemas. It’s not enough to move along year by year and adjust according to what’s flopped. That just results in more failed blockbusters.  

What do you think about this year’s Oscars? 

It’s getting more and more boring. Sure, it’s fun to see all these big stars interacting in a glitzy atmosphere. But the Oscars is really just one standard; it’s far from the only benchmark for what makes a great film. All trends are pointing towards La La Land sweeping this year’s awards, but personally I would prefer Moonlight for its portrayal of the unseen gay, black male experience. 

What are your favorite Thai films of the past year?

The Supannahong Awards are doing a good job in selecting movies with wide-ranging appeal—they’re certainly more diverse than the Oscars. But they can only work with what they’ve got. If I had to pick a few, aside from my movie, I would say Wandering by Boonsong Nakphoo, By the Time It Gets Dark by Anocha Suwichakornpong and Motel Mist by Prabda Yoon were all highlights. 

Watch the trailer for Island Funeral: