By The River

BytheRiver_cover

Thailand / 71 mins / Locarno International Film Festival 2013, Cineasti del Presente – Special Mention Award

Directed by Nontawat Numbenchapol / Mobile Lab

Awards

Special Mention Award, Locarno film festival 2014

Synopsis

Amidst the tranquility of the deep woods, the habitants of Klity, in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, have always led a simple life. They have fed on the fish populating the town’s creek, but for some time now the river has been contaminated by a mineral processing factory. A young local man dives every day to catch fish for his lover, but today he has gone missing, unable to come back to her, who eagerly awaits his return.

Director’s Statement

“Conflicts over the use of natural resources in varying conditions, forms and degrees of complexity are not difficult to find these days. One of the conflicts that have long and still been plaguing our lives is the pollution released into the river by factories, a problem which has seriously harmed the freshwater fishing. Personally, the case which I find particularly interesting is the one which is resulted from the mistake in the mullock collecting system of a mineral processing plant in the District of Thong Pha Phum of Kanchanaburi Province. Since 1998, the tailing leaked from the waste catchment has caused the level of lead contamination in the Southern Klity Village’s creek to rise above the safe level. The damage to the ecosystem, to the natural resources and to the well-being of people in the area which the event has created has been immeasurable. Although earlier this year the Supreme Administrative Court has ordered that the Pollution Control Department paid a few million baht in compensation to the villagers, it seems that the necessary and effective meas- ure for the creek rehabilitation from the government that many have been asking is still a mere plan on a piece of paper, without any degree of certainty. On the other hand, the villagers still have to bear with this contaminated river without any choices even though they probably yearn for ‘a better life’ in the same way the dwellers in the capital city like us do.

“I have decided to convey to the society this perennial problem that the villagers of Southern Klity has endured due to a firm belief that conflicts over the use of natural resources, be it at Klity or elsewhere, can be resolved if the society and the involving organizations have the awareness and the good enough environmental management. If this documentary feature can inspire us to start thinking about our own actions that might affect other people in the society, especially the actions concerning environmental problems, to try to understand the people who have to live with the pollution without having any choices, and to start changing our behaviors – both in the individual level and in the societal level – in order to relieve the troubles from the pollution that we might have caused, as well as to try avoiding being a part of those problems, I – as a documentary filmmaker – will be truly honored.

Director’s Biography

Nontawat Numbenchapol was born on 2 May 1983, in Bangkok, Thailand. He graduated from Visual Communication Design Department, Faculty of Fine Arts of Rangsit University. His work is about ‘space’. His debut first feature documentary ‘Boundary’ (2013), he tells the story of the people who live in the village near Preah Vihear temple during the Thailand-Cambodia border dispute. The film is financially supported by Arts Network Asia and DMZ Fund from Asian Network of Documen- tary, Busan International Film Festival. In 2013, Nontawat’s latest documentary ‘By The River'(2013) premiered at Locarno International Film Festival in Cinema of the Present Competition and received Special Mention Award.