Feature by: Tiffany Limsico
Paisit Punpreuksachat’s plastic string
From Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa
Begin. Scene One:
A director who’s lost his mind now lives in an old, abandoned train. He’s hiding from ‘them’, his persecutors, who possess an extra powerful satellite capable of seeing through dense iron. At least that’s what he tells the alien who interviews him. Both of them are making their way out of the train carriages in the blinding heat of day. Suddenly he flings himself at the pile of colourful plastic strings used for fastening things, which have been left in a messy heap in one of the carriages. “Ha! These are film,” he cries.
We might begin here, with this scene, to talk about how Paisit Punpreuksachat narrates, explains, defines the property of film, and reveals to us the essence of filmic perception.
It’s a small scene from his one-hour video, Tough Creatures Who Burden the Earth. An hour of strange, disjointed narration, which shows us a director who slowly goes insane while running for dear life from the woman who wants to kill him – a lesbian who may be the new girlfriend of his old girlfriend. The whole video is constructed from shots of abandoned places, fragments of run-of-the-mill narrative films, footage spontaneously recorded, and other images of immediate reality which let our imagination roam free, morphing from one thing into another. Sound and image don’t always go together in this video, they fray at the seams revealing the beautiful pattern of the stitches themselves – a multiplicity of possible paths leading from the same starting point.
Paisit calls himself a videographer because he’s never used film for his work. His day job is as a soundman for other filmmakers, but he has been consistently making his own work for many years. He once recorded footage of the daily routines of a friend and turned that into The Cruelty of Soy Sauce Man. In Happy Existentialism he shoots a chopping board so that it becomes a secret military base. His idea of adapting an old short story is to layer a voice reading the story over images of the same places the voice is referring to, shot 200 years after the time of the story’s action (Manus Chanyong: One Night at the Talaenggaeng Road). Paisit’s moving images are always strangely affecting – like entering a universe with its own logic and reasoning, like the plastic string that’s become film. It’s not often you come across someone who combines the ability to draw from his rampant unconscious childlike stories in images, and to convey them through a fully formed aesthetics – an artistic vision unto himself.
The name Paisit Punpreuksachat is not internationally known (and even in Thailand he’s a filmmaker who exists under the radar). But if I had to choose to write about someone who represents the very definition of pure cinema, Paisit’s plastic string is the first thing that comes to mind.
Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa is a film critic whose writing appears in several Thai film magazines and on his blog He is a member of the Filmvirus group, which organizes film screenings, seminars and film book publications in Thailand.
Translated by May Ingawanij
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