Dir: Tom Pannet (Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
103 min., 35mm, 1:1.85, Color, WP
Produktion: The Film Factory, Ltd; Five Stars Production Co. Ltd. Buch: Tom Pannet (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang). Kamera: Chankit Chamnivikaipong. Ton: Niwat Sumniaagsanor. Musik: Amornbhong Methakunvudh. Ausstattung: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Schnitt: Pattamanadda Yukol, Adrian Brady. Produzent: Dhiranan Sukwibul.
Darsteller: Fay Asavase, Paiboonkiat Keawkaew, Ray MacDonald.
Uraufführung: 20.2.1997, Internationales Forum des Jungen Films.
Weltvertrieb: The Film Factory Ltd., 95 Sukhumvit, 99 Bangkok, Thailand. Tel.: 311 2646, Fax: 332 2817.
Thu 20.02. 13:30 Kino 7 im Zoo Palast Thu 20.02. 21:45 Delphi Fri 21.02. 13:45 Arsenal Sat 22.02. 22:15 Akademie der Künste
Her father, a playboy, is a karaoke regular. He spends every night at his favorite karaoke bar singing, getting drunk, and having a good time with the women. At this karaoke bar, he meets the woman of his dreams, Yok. She is a high-class lady of the night who belongs to a young Chinese mafia man called Toeng. Toeng is a polite and soft-spoken man who surrounds himself with 6-7 hitmen. The youngest hitman's name is Noi.
Noi is half Thai and half Caucasian. He is the product of a short union between an American soldier and a Thai woman who met during the war. His dream is to save enough money and learn enough English to go to America and perhaps find his father. Noi is a regular customer at a nearby Seven-Eleven store, where Pu hangs out with her only friend. Noi has a crush on Pu but is too shy to ask her out.
Pu cannot stop dreaming about the house. Her father's relationship with Yok brings him nothing but bad luck...
It is based on an actual dream told to me by a friend. Although the script is written as a drama, the film itself is a social study of the city of Bangkok and its inhabitants.
Physically, Bangkok is like any other cosmopolitan city in the world. It is full of tall modern buildings. Streets are full of cars. There is a Seven-Eleven or a McDonald's at every corner. Middle-class and upper-class people wear Armani or Paul Smith. In other words, it is very westernized. However, people still go to fortune tellers every week, asking them what to do with their lives.
When we have important projects, we give food to monks hoping to turn luck our way. We still believe in ghosts and spirits.
The intention of this film is to study how these two extremes co-exist. When the film was completed, I felt that a study of this topic could turn out to become nothing but a satire.
Finding a particular address in Bangkok is not an easy task. In most cases one hopelessly loses one's way in a maze of side streets, where city planners and cartographers seem to have lost an overview long ago. Gigantic high rises for the newly rich are built in these "white areas" . Middle class families prefer living at the urban periphery, accepting a daily three hour commute through the legendary traffic chaos. The lifestyle of the Thai middle class shapes the city's face: gigantic luxury department stores, Italian restaurants, black shiny BMWs, advertisement for golf clubs and at every corner young girls wearing Japanese designer clothes. And yet, the new glamour is hardly a one-to-one imitation of the Western world. For that most Thai people are either too superstitious or too much tied to Buddhism. Hardly anyone does without amulets. Cards and fortune tellers are frequently consulted. The latest ghost stories are eagerly listened to in company. In some cases, the contrast between the old and the new world in Thailand results in rather funny complications.
In his film FUN BAR KARAOKE Tom Pannet (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang) confronts the world of advertising for shampoo and motor oil with the old Thailand. A young working woman has to follow the most obscure advice by an old sage in order to prevent a worst-case-scenario. A returning nightmare of a family home built by her deceased mother for the still-living father in the hereafter gives her and her fortune teller the necessary instructions to plan the next steps. The story is a loving, yet complex description of the state of affairs in the new Thai middle class. Houses are built, family members live in parallel worlds and the presence is a very Asian mix of the 19th and the 21st Century. In this film Tom Pannet uses no folklore and tourist clichés and yet succeeds in portraying an urban, Asian middle class of which the European West has hardly taken notice. It is evident that the director of FUN BAR KARAOKE knows every protagonist in real life: the modern sales woman in the 24 hour kiosk, the superstitious daughter in the advertising agency, the sybaritic father and his lover who is involved in complicated Mafia affairs. In Europe or the USA such preconditions for making independent features may be the norm but for Thailand this isn't the case. Tom Pannet has done pioneering work with FUN BAR KARAOKE in every respect.
(Dorothee Wenner, January 1997)
Tom Pannet (Pen-ek Ratanaruang) was born in 1962 in Bangkok, Thailand. He studied art history and philosophy at the Pratt Institute in New York City. After graduation, he worked as a graphic designer at Designframe Incorporated in New York for 3 years before returning to Thailand. In Thailand he worked for an advertising agency until 1993 when he started directing television commercials. In his next life, he would like to be a professional soccer player or a fortune teller. FUN BAR KARAOKE is his debut feature film.
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.