Agrarian Utopia

At first glance, this luxurious Thai film on the rural ideal is a straightforward examination of an agrarian utopia, with breathtaking cinematography framing the lush green fields and clear blue skies of Thailand's scenic north as farmers till the land, using centuries-old methods to plant and harvest rice. But soon the economic reality becomes apparent: the farmers can barely make ends meet, and the economic tensions behind Thailand's recent political struggles are revealed in scenes of politicians stirring up the crowd at rallies in the city. Paradoxically both blissfully naturalistic and overtly staged (director Uruphong Raksasad, the son of farmers, hired locals to play fictional versions of themselves), the film succeeds in visualizing an agrarian utopia, yet reminding viewers of its near obsolescence. As one farmer says, “How can we dream of utopia while our stomach is still grumbling?”-Jason Sanders

• Written, photographed by Raksasad. With Prayad Jumma, Somnuek Mungmeung, Sai Jumma, Nikorn Mungmeung. (121 mins, In Thai with English subtitles, Color, DigiBeta, From Flaherty on the Road)

Preceded by short:
Kalendar (Naomi Uman, U.S, 2008). A poetic and visual study of the Ukrainian language. (10 mins, Silent with Ukrainian and English intertitles, Color, 16mm, From Canyon Cinema)

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