Historiography of Cinephiles in Thailand

Abstract

Amongst film audiences in Thailand, there is a group that follows the new releases enthusiastically. They watch many films in the course of a week and do not only focus on films in the cinema but also search for places to watch alternative movies. Forming in the 1970s, these people are now known as “Thai Cinephiles”. They started off as regular audiences at screening events before becoming film critics, programmers and curators. This practice significantly expands the awareness of alternative cinema in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand.
This paper traces the activities of Thai cinephiles from the late of 1970s when they first met each other at cultural institutions that screened alternative cinema, to the 1990s when conversations evolved around video shops and film festivals at shopping malls. The age of digital also saw Thai cinephiles took into writing, promoting and creating diverse content across various platforms from blogs, message boards to Facebook. Their practice/activism across different generations shared through interviews reveals the principle of sharing the good stuff they found and building new generation of directors and audiences. This historiography provides an alternative history on Thai film culture that bridges existing writings on the Thai new waves and limited research in the Thai language on audience motivations and cinema going.