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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.

I wrote about Mitr briefly on Facebook after my trip to Petchaburi for a film location interview related to  a contemporary Thai film First Love which attracted tourists to the restaurant featured in the film from different pan-Asian countries. After the interview, we walked along the street to check out the old town and came across an old wooden house with a marquee 'Storytelling house : Mitr Chaibancha. Initially I thought it was the house that the star was born or lived in but in fact it was a house of a film fan who collected and displayed Mitr's film posters and various memorabilia to share to the passerby. The owner of the house was very kind and informative. He emphasizes the fact that Mitr was born here in Petchaburi (in the area called Ta Mai towards the South). He has always wanted to share his love of Mitr and his place was later incoprated as part of the town's cultural walking street programme which led to the added marquee. 

At the Film Archive event, I talked about my encouter with Mitr's film fans and also another Mitr's memory at the old photography shop in Pimai which collected star portraits including those of Mitr and other local stars who had their photographs taken at the shop in the 50s-60s. Apart from offering my reflection on the possiblity of styding Mitr in relation to Thai geopolitics [as he played various roles that resonates with the changing circumstances of the country in the cold war period from a local-style hero to an oversees scholar coming back to Thailand]. I also highlighted the fan-star relation and the way these sites further help memorialize Mitr in everyday life. Whenever the subject of Mitr came to mind, I also think about my father who was amongst one of the audiences of his generation attending all the new films that Mitr was in it as it toured different provinces in Thailand. 

Link to the talk:

The report of the event via the Film Archive newsletter issue 53:

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