The Thonglor Kids
by Aditya Assarat, Thailand / Singapore
Beat and Ong have been best friends since high school. Even though they are almost 30 now, they still go on pretty much the same way they did as kids – playing tennis, going out nights, and chasing girls. One day, Beat meets Pat, a confident young woman who runs a theater company in the neighborhood. The group is in rehearsals for a new play that is critical of the government. He is intrigued by her political activism that he himself feels but has never acted on before. Meanwhile, Ong is in the midst of a fling with Prang, who works at his father’s company. Aware that he is already engaged to be married, she tries to prolong the affair for as long as possible. As Beat pursues a sincere relationship while Ong extricates himself from an empty one, both end up facing the consequences of their carefree lives. And cleaning up their own mess is something the Thonglor Kids don’t know how to do very well.
Thonglor is my street in Bangkok. It has changed a lot over the years. As a boy I used to ride my bicycle around because in the 80s it was still a dead-end street with very few cars. As the years passed all that changed and today, the dead-end street is no longer dead. It has become a busy avenue whose name is synonymous with the city’s prosperity. So first, I want to make a neighborhood movie unfolding in the restaurants and coffee shops and bars. And second, I want to portray the malaise that has settled in for those young people we see sitting behind the glass windows. Thailand is in the midst of a national soul-searching. Politics is stuck in a decade long impasse. Meanwhile, the military strengthens its hold over the country in the form of a 20-year plan. Freedom is only a mirage. It is a time of uncertainty where the young people search for a path forward. Some take to the streets and protest, some put their heads down to endure, and some flee abroad to a better place. But yet in sunny Thonglor, the last few sitting behind those glass windows continue on as if nothing is happening, absorbed in the ups and downs of their careers and love affairs.
This is a “neighborhood movie”. So, as much as possible, I want to photograph what the neighborhood looks like now. Behind the façade of shiny restaurants and coffee shops and bars, there are still many small alleys and homes that look the same way they did when I was young. It is this mix of old and new that is particular to the way Thonglor looks. Other than that, my visual style will be simple and matter of fact. Often, I watch old movies that I’ve seen before because I like to be immersed in the atmos- phere. I enjoy seeing the way things looked at the time of filming. Paris in the 60s, New York in the 70s, Taipei in the 90s – I cherish the movies that have shown me what those times looked like. They move me in a special way that only cinema can provide. That’s my hope for this film.
Aditya Assarat is one of Thailand’s most important lmmakers today. His feature films have been selected in competition internationally at festivals such as Cannes, Rotterdam, Busan and many others. He has a visual art approach to storytelling and filmmaking that is full of details in the nuances, the gestures of his characters and a precise mise-en-scene. His strong cinematic sensibility and rich interpretation of Thai livelihood got him the National Silpathorn Award, given annually to an individual for contributions to Thai Cinema. We have met a few years back and, since we share the same passion for good stories, we began working together on this feature film.
Genre Fiction, Drama
Shooting format 1.85:1, Colour
Estimated running time 100’
Production status Development
Shooting language Thai, English
Shooting location Bangkok, Thailand
Shooting period June 2020
Total budget EUR 500’000
Funds secured EUR 50’000