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Film Screening: The Island Funeral (2015)

Film Screening: The Island Funeral (2015)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 6:00 pm
Michelson Theater
Department of Cinema Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor

Set in the deep South of Thailand, where separatist violence has claimed nearly 7,000 lives in the past 13 years, The Island Funeral is a meditation on faith, identity and a place uncharted by any map. Laila, with her brother and his friend, head from Bangkok on a thousand-kilometer road trip to Pattani. Along the way they meet Surin, a soldier from the Northeast. Together they journey into the southernmost part of the country in search of lost history and half-remembered memories.

In the words of the director, The Island Funeral is “about everybody who is looking for their ideal world amidst the conflicts of the internal clash in their past and memories.” Shot on 16mm, The Island Funeral is the winner of the Best Asian Future Film Award, 28th Tokyo International Film Festival, FIPRESCI Prize, the 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival and Best Cinematographer, and Asian New Talent Awards, 19th Shanghai International Film Festival, and Silver Hanoman Award, Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2016. The director, Pimpaka Towira, is a pioneer on the Thai independent film scene.

Following the screening there will be a Q&A with the screenwriter, Kong Rithdee.

Presented by the Asian Film and Media Initiative in the Department of Cinema Studies. Co-sponsored by NYU's Center for Religion and Media.

Free and open to the public.


Director: Pimpaka Towira
Story by: Kong Rithdee
Screenplay by Kong Rithdee and Pimpaka Towira


"Thailand’s slide from a country known as the Land of Smiles to a land dogged by religious conflict and political violence is lamented in the elegantly composed arthouse entry “The Island Funeral.” Centered on three young Bangkok residents searching for a long-lost relative in the nation’s troubled South, the pic mixes road-movie and mystery-thriller elements with the scent of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” to produce a quietly gripping tale with its own distinctive voice." - VARIETY

"Ms. Towira’s shooting style is efficient and relatively unadorned in the first half. As the movie progresses, she adds something small to its minimalist vocabulary. When she resorts to a simple dissolve during the boat trip, for instance, the effect seems to turn the whole movie into something more enigmatic. For all the built-up dread in “The Island Funeral,” the movie ends on a note that’s both lyrical and terribly mournful." - New York Times

"Tracking three young city-dwellers search for a missing relative in the heavily militarized south of Thailand, The Island Funeral incorporates and reinvents generic tropes from road movies, paranormal thrillers and documentaries. Meanwhile, characters are also allowed to move beyond the clichéd social binaries tearing the southeast Asian country apart in recent years, with their journey eventually ending at a haven where class, ethnicity and religion no longer matter." - Hollywood Reporter


Kong Rithdee is an arts editor of the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s leading English-language newspaper, and also a documentary filmmaker and scriptwriter. He has been writing about film, art and politics for 23 years. His documentary films, Baby Arabia and The Convert, about Islamic culture in Thailand, were shown at Vancouver International Film Festival, Yamagata Documentary Film Festival and many other places. (In New York, he’s on his way to present a paper at a conference on religion and film at Cornell University.)