27.06.2021 Paper presentation at Decolonising Language, Literary, and Cultural Studies Symposium, Chiang Mai University Thailand
The film fan tourism project has grown and evolved over the years. Since the Covid-19 Pandemic with travel restrictions, film fan tourism brings us to the subject of memory of past travels mediated through online platforms. Records of past journeys filmic and otherwise resurfaced on various Facebook pages and websites. One of the things that I have been exploring further is the revival of sites connected to colonial history in Thailand, which have also been used as film locations. Hua Hin is one such town which has long been known as a seaside get-away for Bangkokian. It has grown since the start of the Southern Railway line and the constuction of the Railway Hotel. The hotel was used to film The Killing Fields (1984) and has been mentioned in various literature.
The notion of colonial nostalgia with the revival of the hotel now run by the Central Group is something I decided to explore in the recent paper presented at 'Decolonising Language, Literary, and Cultural Studies Symposium' hosted by Chiang Mai University Thailand (abstract below). The virtual conference went well with further contacts and follow-ups on possible collaboration with colleagues in Thailand interested in the similar kind of topic.
04.05.2021 A postponed event
We started 2021 with the ease of Covid-19 spread in Thailand, things started to be normalized, although a lot of people were still wearing masks in public. (I even attended a friend wedding towards the end of March!) Hence, during Janurary-March, I started organizing this event to share the research project to the public (in Thailand, primarily BKK and nearby areas). I visited a charming former theatre (existed as a cinema since the era of King Rama V, at the height of Western colonization.) It was formerly a gambling den, which was deemed inappropriate by the authority. Hence, it was turned into a cinama (much more appropriate. ei ei). Now open as a heritage hotel/cafe, the decor tells its history showing films in the 1970s such as Rosemary's Baby (1968), Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975). Its cocktail bar seves drinks inspired by different films and it is affordable to rent the space for a public talk with a big cinema screen projection.
With the support of a staff at Rilca, we got talking to the sales agent of the hotel. I also got in touch with a FB Page, known amongst film fans in Thailand for stories on film fan tourism to collaborate on a special collection postcards. We got the posters designed with the programme. It all looked very promising for a small intimate event, with a plan for a recording session to share the talk widely afterwards. I was to be joined with the project mentor who will be talking about 'memory films' i.e. The Railway Man, while I will be talking about film memories (which extend from the memory film genre). It all turned topsy turvy as the 3rd wave of Covid started with a big cluster at a night club in Bangkok. ...
10.12.2020 A short period of site visits before another wave of Covid-19
2020 gave us a challenging time for the world including for all involved with film and tourism. In Thailand, we had periods of no new cases of local infection for several months after the outbreak of the first wave, which allowed us to do three trips towards the end of the year. This final one included site visits related to one of the most notable Thai films of 2016 called Joking Jazz 4G which requires a trek up the hill in Lampang province, North of Thailand. In the same area, we also visited the site related to the story of Anna and the King - the original Louis T. Leonowens's house who was the son of Anna Leonowen. Louis returned to Thailand to operate a teak wood company before the abolition of deforestation.
08.10.2020 Northeast visits
Since the start of this project, the focus of the research has been on the sites which have been written about by fans. This is because the starting point of the research is after fan tourism/fan pilgrimage has become a 'maintream' activity associated with blockbuster films. The public discourses in the local media focuses on 'more destination marketing', 'more content that promote the tourism industry', and various forms of investments. The focus on indiviudal fans' connections with the film texts and the locations were left out to the conversations. Coming towards the end of this leg of the project, I intend to visit the site that the Thai government has invested significant sum of money into keeping the stories related to the film at the local site.
23.09.2020 Amphava and Samut Songkram film memories
The floating market of Amphava in Samut Songkhram province not far from Bangkok saw the boom in the early 2000s after it won the Unesco Asia–Pacific Heritage Awards in 2008. Once a local community with wooden houses and a quiet market area, the town was flooded with visitors from different parts of Thailand. The charm has been the 'home-stay' experience of staying at the same house as the owner, geting pick up to see the fireflies along the canal (if one wishes to participate) and the morning ritual of giving alms to the monks who are passing along by boats. Flash forward years later, Amphava has since been featured in travel documentaries, Chinese TV series leading to the interest by overseas tourists.
Exploring the area of star studies in relation to film fan tourism
I was invited to give a talk as part of the annual Thai Film Archive academic conference. This year one of the panels is different dimensions related to the Thai legendary film star in the 1960s Mitr Chaibancha. With his tragic death of falling down from a helicoptor during the shooting of the film he directed and starred, along with over hundreds of films he acted in the post-war 16mm period, he is possibly the most known historical Thai film star along with the co-actress Petchara Chaowarat.
20.03.2020 Tourism and visual culture class at KU is switched to online
I do love teaching this topic to tourism students at Kasetsart University in Bangkok. It's a 12 hr. session divided into 3 weeks, covering areas from
representation, travel and socio-cultural reflections, which explores the way in which travel reflects changing society from the aspect of class, social mobility and cross-cultural understanding
the tourist gaze and the process of 'othering' vs. the self-reflective aesthetics in alternative travel films
layers of memories and history in digital creative practices such as screen framing, performative fan pilgrimage
Each year, when asked, the students were/are fascinated with the questions that socio-cultural and film/media studies viewpoints can bring up, which is something extra from what they explored so far in tourism studies as a first year undergrad.
This year we had our first class at the university, during that week there was already news that many classes begin to switch online. The following two weeks the whole city was going toward a lock down. I managed to quickly buy a microphone at the shop just before everything is closed up and switched to online. The conversation in the following year may have to include the subject of travelling without the actual travel.
08.03.2020 Bruce Lee's Big Boss film memories at Pak Chong, Thailand
One of the most frequently visited film locations by fans this project has explored is the venues related to The Big Boss (1971) with Bruce Lee as the star. Shot at locations in Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima not far from Bangkok, a number of fans have reviewed on social media sites how to find specific locations inlcluding the ice factory [still running as a factory called Dumrong Thai], a monastery not far from the ice factory which was used as the Big Boss's house in the final sequence of the film, and the river bank near the hotel called New Wanchai whose owner is still around and kindly provided information about the film and fan visits. I was particulalry grateful as the auntie of the New Wanchai took me on a motobike across a small concrete bridge into the housing estate to find the exact spot where Bruce Lee saved a lady from the villain.
30.01.2020 Asia Destination Film Forum
On 30th Jan, the PI attended the 2nd Asia Destination Film Forum in central Bangkok. The event was largely attended by various tourism and film-related industry people, invited cultural organizations and companies working on certain projects related to destination marketing in Southeast Asia. The main sponsor for the event this year is the Mongolian Tourism agency, which had its booth promoting destination for filmmaking. I met a Thai blogger who also works in the filmmaking industry and we discussed amongst us that it would be nice to open this up to more Thais working in related fields, event students! The mood and tone is of an expat industry event with business owers sharing success case studies and on-going projects. The sessions I managed to attend and found interesting include...
28.01.2020 Consultation workshop on challenges and priorities of film sector in Thailand
In early January 2020, the PI came across a call for participation in a 'Consultation workshop on challenges and priorities of film sector in Thailand' shared by a friend on Facebook. After submitting the expression of interest and attended the session, I joined the two-part event at the Unesco Bangkok office in town. The highlight of the morning session is the Unesco team presenting their initial findings from data gathered from the industry. The afternoon roundtable was productive and well-curated.
18.01.2020 Film Screening and discussion - Railway Sleepers: Stories and Spatial Trajectories
Together with colleagues at RILCA who are interested in the subject of colonial/postcolonial in Thailand and Southeast Asia, we have formed a research cluster with the support of our institute called 'Aesthetics and Cultural Sociology Research Cluster'. Our first event in 2020 is a film screening and talk focusing on aesthetics of everyday life and landscape through the train. We draw on Michel De Certeau's reading as a theread to discuss a wonderful Thai documentary called Railway Sleeprs (2016). Described as 'A contemplative study of Thailand's rail system', the movie takes us through the history of Thai railway from the colonail period on to today's life on the train and how we remember histories. The total of 20 guests attended the talk including filmmakers, students and academics from various universites in Bangkok.
27.12.19 Film Location Business Interview: Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin (formerly the Railway Hotel)
Photos from 1936 to 1983 and 2019 The Railway Hotel was buit and run by the state railway in the colonial era (now leased to the Centara Group). As the train line connecting Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore was completed, the seaside holiday town attracting elite tourists was formed starting with the beachfront hotel designed by an Italian architect and a road straight to the station. Quite a few bygone memorabilia are now displayed at the Museum Tea room, which is the site of the original hotel lobby also acted as Hotel le Phnom in the Killing Fields (1984).
26.12.19 Film Location Business Interview: Rabieng Rimnam, Petchaburi
On 26 Dec 2019, the PI visited Rabieng Rimnam restaurant in Petchaburi province. The site has been an important place for fans of First Love/Sing lek lek thi riak wa... rak (2010). Since the film was released the venue has attracted a series of tourists. The first waves were visitors from Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In the last 6 years, there have been continuous visitors/fans from mainland China, Taiwan, the Phillipines and Indonesia. The pan Asian visitors help boost the income for the family run restaurant which faced the downturn of Western tourists to the town.
18.11.19 Gala Premiere of THE CAVE and film location and behind-the-scene exhibition
The PI met the writer/director and owner of De Warrenne Pictures, Tom Waller earlier in the year at the talk on films shot in Thailand and questions on exotic representations at the Thai Film Archive. The director later kindly invited us to the premiere of his much talked about film The Cave (2019) which tells the story of the collaborative efforts across different countries and cave diver experts to rescure young footballers and his coach who were trapped in the cave in the North of Thailand due to flash flood.
26.10.19 Film Location Business Interview
With the Thailand Research Fund part of the project, the PI continues to explore and analyse user-generated content on film fan tourism in relation to sites in Thailand, along with interviewing business owners whose locations were featured in the films. So far we have covered the interviews in the North (Chiang Mai) and the East (Chanthaburi) of Thailand. Most recently we have visited sites in the South (Phuket), Bangkok and the West (Ratchaburi) with the list below...
17.08.19 Thai Film Archive special programming and talk: 'Exotic Thailand?'
Following a series of talks/seminars at Mahidol University in June and August, the film fan tourism project joined the Thai Film Archive for the special film programme 'Exotic Thailand?' and a roundtable discussion on films shot in Thailand, following the screening of Soi Cowboy (2008) - award-winning Thai film directed by British director Thomas Clay and produced by Tom Waller, De Warrenne Pictures Ltd. who also joined the discussion. Chairing the session is Kong Rithdee, renowned Thai film critic and deputy director of the Thai Film Archive...
03.08.19 Bangkok workshop/training sessions on reading and representing landscapes
On Aug 2nd and 3rd 2019, the Newton Fund project in collaboration with Rilca's research cluster on aesthetics and sociology of culture and Thailand Research Fund organized two training sessions, which were also opened to students, staff and the public audience who are interested in the subject of reading and representing landscapes. The talks connect film fan tourism with discussions on the different ways landscapes have been represented, ranging from cinema and the idea of modernity and romantic city to volatile townscapes connected to colonial and nationalism...
23.07.19 UK archival visits and training
With the support of the funding, the Thai PI was able to explore possible future work with various archives. The visit to the UK not only gave the opportunity to work with the CI on the academic paper, attended a conference focusing on film location and visited several film sites but also to visit several archives and gained on-site training on working with archival materials.
20.07.19 London: Gateway to Cinema and Media Studies
The SCMS or the Society for Cinema and Media Studies is known for being one of the biggest conferences for scholars in film and media studies. In July 2019, the society ran its theme-specific conference outside the US for the first time focusing on cinema and city with the emphasis on London and the UK. It was a perfect occasion to explore works being done on film location and related areas. One of the highlights of the conference was the walking tour of early film screenings and distribution sites, led by Ian Christie (Birkbeck, University of London)...
24.06.19 Academic panel in Singapore
We wrapped up a busy month of June with a trip to attend and present papers at the Asian Cinema Society Conference at La Salle University, Singapore. The idea of the panel is to gather academics who are working on the subject of film location and fan activities in Southeast Asia together to share ideas and also generate interests and build connections withothers working on related subjects. Several academics we spoke to are working on related areas and we are looking forward to follow their works. Apart from the conference, we also manage to visit the Newton Food Centre used for the film Crazy Rich Asian (2018) as part of our group dinner!
19.06.19 Cambodia Film and Fan Trails in Siem Reap
On 19th-22nd June 2019, the project team visited Siem Reap in Cambodia to explore the film trails and fan engagement from the actual site. Places we visited include the location used for the shooting of Tomb Raider (2001) and In the Mood for Love (2000) which are part of the UNESCO Angkor Wat heritage site. En-route to Singapore, our next stop to present a panel on film fan tourism in Southeast Asia, we also found a travel magazine fearing the story of film location to promote tourism. The layers of texts, agencies, historical and popular memories are something which we are exploring in the our upcoming co-written journal paper!
15.05.19 Project Presentation and Industry Talk: Film Locations through Multiple Lenses
Bringing academics and industry people together, Rilca hosted a vibrant talk and roundtable session to discuss the subject of film location in Southeast Asia and fan tourism. The event begins with the introduction to the British Academy and OHEC funded project and two talks by the project's PI and CI. These are:
- Southeast Asian film trail(s), colonial history and nostalgia by Professor Kate Taylor-Jones, School of East Asian Studies, Sheffield University
- Fan tourism: Digital platforms, affective space and cinephile pilgrimage stories by Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong, Rilca Mahidol University
The two talks are followed by the sharing session on film locations in Thailand and Southeast Asia by Thai film crew. We were joined by Samavee Pummoung and Kittipat Boonvanno (with experience working with Indochina Productions, Ta Productions and Netflix)
09.06.19 - Updates from the summer!
Summer 2019 has been a busy time for us, engaging with many collaborators and exploring diverse dimensions of film fan tourism in Southeast Asia. We kicked off June with Prof. Kate Taylor-Jones's second visit to Rilca at the beginning of the month. During the visit we met with many people working in the film industries particularly film location company and crew, as well as artists, researchers, curators who are exploring the landscape of Southeast Asia in various ways.
22.03.19 - A lecture series on visual cultures, film tourism and fan practices
A lecture series on visual cultures, film tourism and fan practices
At the end of March and early April, Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong gave lectures at Kasetsart University and Chulalongkorn University on different aspects of fan practices and film tourism.
13.02.19 - Workshop & future collaboration
As part of a module called Transnational Film Cultures in Asian Contexts at Mahidol University, Rilca welcomes Dr. Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn - a Thai film critic, curator and academic whose research focuses on the landscape of forest in world cinema - for a workshop on textual analysis with MA students.
Giving that the workshop received very positive feedback from those who attended, we discussed a possibility of running a similar kind of workshop focusing on landscape, travel and spaces on films shot in Thailand and Southeast Asia during Dr. Kate Taylor-Jones's visit to Thailand in June 2019.
Future collaboration to be expanded!
23.01.19 - Public seminar
Exciting seminar and networking event as part of the Newton Fund’s research project.
Pictures from the event. We had over 40 people attended in total. Thanks all of you who joined us on the day!
20.01.19 - Networking session
After attending an outdoor screening of The Overture (2004) organized by the Thai Film Archive as part of the winter festival “Love and Warmth at Winter’s End” on , Dr. Kate Taylor Jones and Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong visited the Thai Film Archive office in Salaya, Thailand. Established in 1984 by Dome Sukwong under the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture, it was reorganized into a public organization in 2009. The Archive organizes...
19.01.19 - Fieldwork to Kanchanaburi
Prof. Kate Taylor-Jones, Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong and Georgia Thomas-Parr (PhD student from Sheffield University) visited sites connected to the Japanese colonial history in Kanchanaburi, Thailand including the Bridge on the River Kwai and the Hellfire Pass. The aim of this trip is to explore different ways to engage with space, colonial history and film-related sites through photography and video works.
17.01.19 - Film Location Visit: Thailand Creative District
As part of a research exchange trip to Thailand Prof. Kate Taylor-Jones visited sites related to colonial history in Thailand, one of which is now used as a location to exhibit art works as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale, the East Asiatic Building Bangkok.
“Back to 1884, it was the glorious period of the international marine trade. Besides the growth of trade and commerce, countries in Southeast Asia were totally seeking to avoid European’s colonisation. Because of such trading benefit and political reason, King Rama V tactfully decided to develop
15.01.19 - Art exhibition
Prof. Kate Taylor-Jones, Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong and Georgia Thomas-Parr (PhD student from Sheffield University) joined the opening of the exhibition ‘Beyond the Final Frontier’ at S.A.C. Subhashok The Arts Centre, Bangkok. The event was well-attended by film and art academics, critics and artists amongst other audiences. The multimedia exhibition explores histories and memories related to Thailand socio-political landscapes using the idea of outer space.
“Through sound, scent and vision, this exhibition creates a
14.01.19 - Dr. Kate Taylor-Jones's Visit
The Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University welcomes Professor Kate Taylor-Jones and fan tourism project partners for research exchange activities. During Prof. Taylor-Jones’s visit, she will join a language training course in Thai and Burmese along with engaging in various networking sessions, a public seminar and research exchanges and fieldworks with Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong.
28.12.18 - Film Location Business Interview
Since the start of the Fan Tourism/Cinephile Pilgrimage project on 2nd May 2018 funded by Thailand Research Fund, the principal investigator, Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong has visited various fan tour locations to interview business owners on their views towards film fan tourism.
Sites visit in November-December 2018 include:
Khao Mai Lanna, Chiang Mai
The River Market, Chiang Mai
Technic Colour Lab, Chantaburi
Explore other locations which have been part of the fan tour phenomenon visit our map section!
15.10.18 - Website launched!
We launched the first ever online resource on Fan Tourism & Cinephile Pilgrimage: Thailand and South East Asia at film-locations-thailand.org/. Now expanded with the British Academy's Newton's fund support to filmfantourism.org
We thank our funding sponsors including Thailand Research Fund for making this project possible. We also thank the British Academy and Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC) Thailand for the sponsorship of the interactive map.
29.09.18 - Conference at Nottingham, Ningbo
Dr. Wikanda Promkhuntong presents an early observations on the Fan Tourism in Thailand project at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo China as part of “Playful Encounters: Interdisciplinary engagements with play, creativity, entertainment, and fun.” https://www.nottingham.edu.cn/en/internationalcommunications/playful-encounters.aspx
17.09.18 - Project extension with Newton Fund!
We are thrilled to share you the news that the Thailand’s Research Fund project on Fan Tourism in Thailand will be expanded to explore the Southeast Asian film trails through a partnership with the University of Sheffield with the funding support of the British Academy’s Newton Mobility Grants.
“Newton Mobility Grants provide support for international researchers based in a country covered by the Newton Fund to establish and develop collaboration with UK researchers around a specific research project. The aim of these one-year awards is to strengthen the research capacity of, and contribute, to promoting economic development and social welfare in the partner country, while supporting excellent research. The awards will also initiate the development of longer-term links between the overseas and UK researchers.”
The Newton fund part of the project will also be incorporated on to this website. Thank you Newton Fund!