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Journey into the heart

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Premiered at Berlin International Film Festival 2021, Anocha Suwichakornpong’s fourth feature film is the story of a group young people visiting the historical places along Kanchanaburi’s Death Railway.

As a female Thai filmmaker whose works are recognized internationally and locally where she has just recently received Silpatorn Award from The Ministry of Culture's Office of Contemporary Arts, Anocha Suwichakornpong’s new film is one of two Thai films in this year’s Berlin International Film Festival which the first half of the festival which is the virtual part that only film professionals and press can watch the films in the line-up, which the second part of the festival which happened from 9-20 June is for the audience to enjoy watching films in outdoor screening during summer in the city of Berlin. 

Anocha Suwichakornpong ‘Come Here’ or ‘Jai Jumlong’ is the first time for Anocha to have her film premiere at Berlin International Film Festival in Forum section. 

“I want to film something quick.” Anocha tells us about her fourth feature film, which is a smaller piece comparing to her previous films. “After I finish ‘By the Time It Gets Dark’, I felt tired, so I want to make something that is not too complicated in making, with few shooting days and few casts.”, says Anocha. 

Anocha decided to film ‘Come Here’ as a film that she can finish and release quickly to allow for fluidity and improvisation. “The film was shot within 5 days and is not longer than 70 minutes. We don’t have screenplay, so we did workshop with the actors.” Anocha talks about how she wants her fourth feature film to be. 

Between 2018-2019, Anocha was invited by Harvard University to be visiting lecturer on Art, Film, and Visual Studies, which was the time that she started editing all the footages. “I went to Harvard University to teach in 2018, I was very busy with teaching so I couldn’t have time to edit the footage. Then I had another project ‘Krabi, 2562’ that I co-directed with Ben Rivers, so I had to focus on ‘Krabi, 2562’. After I finish the film, I resumed working with the editing of ‘Come Here’. Last year, there was a lockdown so I had time to work on it.”. 

‘Come Here’ tells the story of four friends from same theater company who take a trip to Kanchanaburi province. There, they drink, smoke weed, talking, and fall in love.  

“I went to Kanchanaburi province and I had some memories of it. I went to Hellfire Pass and I felt very sad. I had the feeling that I want to make a film from those experiences, so I came up with the story of a group of actors visiting Kanchanaburi.”, Anocha talks about the background of choosing Kanchanaburi and the famous ‘Death Railway’ as location of the film. 

“I want it to be a clash between location which is historical place and characters which are young people of the present days. The choice of filming this film as black and white makes it feel ambiguous that which era these characters are in. I want to make it to be timeless, to be something that can happen in any era.”, says Anocha about her choice in filming ‘Come Here’ as black and white, so the audience in the future may question when actually the story of this film takes place. 

‘Come Here’ is the second time that actress Apinya Sakuljaroensuk works with Anocha’ after ‘By the Time It Gets Dark’. This time, her co-actors are Sirat Intarachote who is well known from films such as ‘App War’, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri who received universal acclaim from his acting in Netflix series ‘Girl From Nowhere Season 2’ , professional stage actress Waywiree Ittianunkul and artist and architect Sornrapat Patharakorn who has ‘Come Here’ as his acting debut.  “I brought professional actress like Saipan Apinya to work with Sornrapat, who is an artist and never acts before. Too Sirat were in some films. Waywiree is stage actress. We cast people with various acting background, as I am interested to see how it is going to be when they perform together. During the workshop, we asked Sirat, Sornrapat and Bhumibhat to switch their roles as we didn’t have screenplay. We had only treatment and we didn’t decide who was going to play which role, until one point that we know who.”, says Anocha about the process in working with the casts.  

Saipan Apinya Sakuljaroensuk and Sirat Intarachote (App War) play the character of 'Saipan' and 'Too', stage actors who are from the same theatre company.

Anocha has attended the physical screening in Berlin on 20 June “I am in Berlin for DAAD’s residency program, so I could be there at the physical screening of ‘Come Here’.” Anocha is awarded the DAAD Artist-in-Berlin program, which she is invited to live and work in Berlin for 6 months, so she is one of the few filmmakers from outside Europe who attended the screening at Berlin International Film Festival physically this year. 

‘Come Here’ is a film made for viewing in cinemas, which the director hopes that the audience will be able to experience this film on big screen. “I can understand why there needs to be online screenings under this circumstance,  but it may not fit for every film. I made this film to be viewed on big screen. With online screening, you may not experience sound and picture as I hope it to be.” After the physical screening at Berlin International Film Festival, ‘Come Here’ is expected to have its theatrical release in Thailand by the end of this year. 

Published : June 27, 2021

By : Special to Nationthailand by Donsaron Kovitvanitcha