MoMA Presents: Pimpaka Towira’s The Island Funeral

Feb 9–15, 2017


The Island Funeral. 2015. Thailand. Directed by Pimpaka Towira. Courtesy of the filmmaker

This second feature from Thai filmmaker Pimpaka Towira, following her One Night Husband (2003) by more than a decade, is an assured road movie cowritten with film critic Kong Rithdee. The Island Funeral follows three Bangkok youths traveling to Pattani province to visit a long-lost aunt. As the cohort get farther from the capital and deeper into the militarized South, caustic banter gives way to unease within unfamiliar and menacing environs. Radio and news reports of clashes between Muslim separatists and the military are heightened by Towira’s elegant use of genre devices and a haunting score. Vivid 16mm cinematography and layered editing in create beauty from quiet moments and uncanny juxtapositions. All the while, in a style reminiscent of her countryman Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Towira’s ghost tale tells a second story of politico-religious conflict and social control in contemporary Thailand. Following a prize-winning premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2015 and presentations at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, among others, this is the film’s first screening on the East Coast.

Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.

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