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Amnard Pimmasri is originally from Thailand and joined Oxford Brookes in January 2016. Amnard's thesis is titled ‘Dynamic Document-Film; digital, mobile phones, participatory film-making, in and for documenting gay everyday experiences in rural Thailand’.
I had studied here before.
I was running my own business.
What kinds of insights can digital forms of documentation and dissemination offer on the challenges faced by gay men in rural Thailand? This project aims not only to explore film-making as a critical creative practice, but also to dynamic document and express everyday experiences of gay men in rural Thailand, through practice-based research.
Dynamic document-film is a digital participatory film-making project in the essay film tradition that explores not only alternative film-making, but also rural gay Thai men’s lived realities on film. This enables the researcher, author and/or filmmaker, as well as the participants, to express thoughts, stories, experiences, activities, behaviours, pleasures, and relationships through mobile phone and participatory reporting. This is a dynamic way to remember the past as well as to bridge experiences, thoughts, desires or ideas between one and their viewers, and even oneself. The medium and its method are created through the combination of arts, digital film-making and reporting experiences.
My research offers awareness alongside new understandings of Thai gay men as well as their everyday experiences. It explores whether this is a category that they subscribe to while ensuring that their stories no longer remain under-reported or unsaid. The information and materials gathered are processed manually through film, autoethnography and thematic analysis, with a focus on experimentation and thought through both the experience and the material.
There has been a recent movement towards advancing Thailand’s LGBTIQ rights. LGBTIQ activists and media representatives have reported that the community currently struggles with lack of acceptance in many different areas, including employment opportunities, access to health care, housing, and education. Traditional Thais still view LGBTIQ relationships negatively and the Samui Times and the Bangkok Post claim that same-sex Thai partners and their families are not given the same legal protections as heterosexuals in medical emergencies.
At the same time, several modern film directors have depicted gay themes and characters: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady (2004) represented rural male (obscured) relationships; Poj Arnon’s romantic, crime action drama Bangkok Love Story (2007) explored the everyday life of gay relationships between masculine males; and Anucha Boonyawatana's Malila: The Farewell Flower (2017) tells the story of a man who returns to his old village to care for his ex-boyfriend, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Yet, in filling gaps and knowledge (including in film-making and research), there are still fundamental challenges about gays and/or queers that remain unexplored through film. Little research has been carried out through this medium about rural gay men in Thailand.
To generate research into what mobile phone and participatory reporting can offer in the field of film and digital media production, I extend the work of Sue Sudbury’s Village Tales (2015). In “visualising the everyday”, Sudbury explored “The Potential of Participatory Documentary Filmmaking in Rural India”. Sudbury's studies pointed out that, with the camcorder, participants had limited access to several means, which prevented numerous materials from being documented. Sudbury’s work is extended from the practice of “participatory video” pioneered by Don Snowden in the 1960s – the concept of using visual media to document-report on the residents of a community as they face their everyday realities and struggles. Although cameras are considered a tool for visualising the everyday while negotiating about lives and the living, the camera is also considered a weapon that can be used by the participants. In my project, where a mobile phone is already being carried anywhere with the holder, cameras are seen not only as a tool to document the lives or to negotiate the living, but also a personal tool in and for one’s own expression regarding their everyday experiences.
The main objectives of my project are:
There are numerous challenges but I engage, practice and document anything and everything that I can research.
To continue to research and document under-reported everyday experiences.