Stories on Human Rights (2008)
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.
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.