|Special Invitation Films|
THAILAND / 2009 / Thai / Color / Video / 122 min
Director, Photography, Editing: Uruphong Raksasad
Assistant Director: Kriangsak Wittaya-aniwat
Assistant Editor: Nitivat Cholvanichsiri
Sound Mixing: Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr
Office Coordinator: Narisara Saisanguansat
Producer: Pimpaka Towira
Associate Producer: Mai Meksawan
Production Company, World Sales: Extra Virgin Co, Ltd www.extravirginco.com
In a farming community in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, debts force two families to lose their land and become tenant farmers. Even so, they continue to live a life of harmony with the land and climate; the children happily play in the mud, snakes and frogs caught in the rice paddies grace their meals, and the parents dream of cash income by growing mushrooms. Their neighbor is a hippy, disillusioned with city life and pursuing an idealistic form of organic farming. One day, their landlord announces that he’s selling his land. The families are forced to move to the city as migrant workers . . . While inserting scenes from election campaigns, this film portrays the reality of humble small-scale farming losing its viability. In a search for a “theory of agrarian happiness” and a way of life in synch with the primal landscape of the soil where he grew up, the director leased a plot of land and had the protagonists live there for a year to shoot the film.
[Director’s Statement] The time spent making this film was, for me, a very happy and blissful experience. It felt like being able to get away from all that goes on in the world for a whole year, to spend time living with nature, just like in my childhood. This made me realize our world is still a nice place to live in some ways.
To be honest, the world has always been beautiful, in its own way. But perhaps we just tend to forget it sometimes, lost in the midst of trying to get by day in day out. But then again, we all should know what’s best for ourselves.
Born in 1977 to a farming family in a district 60 km from Chiang Rai, in the northern part of Thailand, Uruphong came to the capital for the first time when he was 18, to further his study at Thammasat University where he majored in film and photography. He graduated in 2000. His short film March of Time (2000), screened at YIDFF 2001, was his thesis work. After university, he worked in television for some time, but disheartened by a system demanding only high ratings, he returned to making films in his birthplace while participating on his friends’ independent films as editor. Filmography includes: The Way (2005), The Longest Day (2005), The Harvest (2005), Stories from the North (2005), which was invited to film festivals in Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Torino, Vancouver, and won many prizes, The Rocket (2007), and The Planet (2007). Agrarian Utopia won the NETPAC Special Prize at its premiere in Rotterdam in 2009.