Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Stories on Human Rights (2008)

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This anthology was commissioned in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with contributions from 25 notable filmmakers worldwide. The shorts focus on various subjects under human rights, including dignity, justice, gender, culture, development, environment, and participation. One of the twenty-five shorts, Mobile Men by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, stuck me in particular simply because when I watched it, I had no idea how it related to the ideas of human rights or its subheading, justice. I found a fantastic interview with the filmmakers on Art for the World’s blog that demystified the meaning for me. Quoted from the filmmaker:

In my recent short film, the main actor is played by a migrant worker from Shan state in Burma named Jaai. The shooting of this film provided me a great opportunity to learn from his stories. He is one of the lucky ones who have decent jobs and are contented with the new living condition. But there exist many others who are still living in the opposite circumstances. For this film project, Mobile Men, it is a portrait of Jaai. By the act of making the film, I would like to instill and capture his confidence and dignity. It is not about storytelling, but about a man who is full of life.
 
Rather than attempt to moralize or make a comment on human rights directly, Weerasethakul choose to film a profile of someone he feels defines justice in the current situation in Burma. A story on this subject could feel didactic or sorrowful, instead he chose to make a film that is both joyful and subtle. He glorifies his main character, Jaai. The interview goes on, detailing how the act of making a film like this helps break down the barriers that contribute to infringements on human rights:
 
In Mobile Men, the cinema is a tool to create self-awareness. It is important for one to be proud of one’s own existence and recognize it in the others. Here the situation is choreographed as a movie-making game to celebrate youth, beauty, and dignity. The film honors simple gestures that mark individuality through visual exchanges. I hope the viewers realize that, when the actors and a director are holding a camera and shoot, we are destroying a discriminating barrier. The pickup truck simulates a small moving island without frontiers where there is freedom to communicate, to see, and to share.
 
After reading about the concepts and the devotion that went into making this short, I learned to appreciate it much more. I’ll leave you with a very different type of short film, also dealing with the Universal Declaration of Human rights, released by the Human Rights Action Center.
 
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2 Responses

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  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An exquisite read. I’ll certainly be back.

    Loris Schlick

    April 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm

  2. Well I sincerely enjoyed learning it. This facts procured by you is very effective for correct planning. I was seeking this single the other day. I do not commonly post within forums but i needed to say thank you!

    Russell Pulis

    April 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm


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