Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2014 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

Project Railway Sleepers
Category BIFF Mecenat Fund
Project Railway Sleepers
Country Thailand
Director's Profile Sompot Chidgasornpongse graduated with a BA in architecture. He has worked as an assistant director on many films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, since 2004. His personal short films were shown at various international film festivals, including Rotterdam, Oberhausen, Viennale, Vision du Reel, Signes de Nuit, and others. His films explore the possibilities of representing everyday life in a creative and thought-provoking way. He graduated from the MFA Film & Video program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and currently lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand.
The film allows the audience to experience a 2-day, 2-night trip on the railway, from the north to the south of Thailand. It is a sunny day. We pass through the longest railway tunnel in the country and buy on-board food from vendors. Outside the window, we see mountains, rice fields, factories, and temples. The train conductor waves flags, giving signals at each station. Unexpectedly, it rains. Tonight, the moon is bright. Some passengers are getting drunk and singing loudly. Others are trying to get some sleep. The second day starts with orange light. The monks are meditating in their special area. Western tourists enjoy the sun. Swiftly, the train changes its direction, heading south. The whole train is now boarded by a group of Muslim passengers. It is the second night and we are in 2nd Class, with air-conditioning. The seats are being changed into beds. There are also curtains for privacy. In the 1st Class section, the carriage is divided into private rooms. Suddenly we see bright lights projected onto the walls. It is historical black & white film footage of railway travel from the old days. The last shot is from the top of a high building, overlooking Hualamphong Station; the center of the train system in Thailand.
Director's Note
This film is my attempt to capture Thailand the way I see it. Using the train as a metaphor, I tried to translate what it is that Thai people are facing by jigsaw-ing life snippets together to create a grander narrative of the country. You have, no doubt, heard about the political unrest in Thailand that has been going on for the past 6 years. At the moment, we're now under yet another military coup. As a citizen, I feel powerless. Mass media and the internet are heavily monitored. This film is my way to communicate my feelings for my homeland, for both its beauty and its problems.
Still Cut