2023.10.26 [Event Reports]
Seeking Love and Surviving on the Edge


©2023 TIFF

Redlife director Ekalak Klunson appeared for a post-screening talk with actor Thiti Mahayotaruk on October 25 at the 36th Tokyo International Film Festival, following the world premiere of the Thai film.
“I wanted to depict the lives of people who are neglected in this world, those who are not loved,” Klunson told the audience.
Admitting that he felt a bit nervous after the premiere, actor Thiti Mahayotaruk, who played Ter, one of the two protagonists, said, “I really want to know what you thought about the film. How did you like it?” The audience responded with a big round of applause.
Redlife portrays the struggles of two teenage protagonists whose paths never cross during the film. Som, a high-school girl, is fed up with living with her mother, who is a sex worker. Ter, a good-for-nothing thief, cannot stand the fact that his girlfriend sleeps with customers for money. Despite their personal disassociations, the lives of Som and Ter are fundamentally linked together by poverty in Bangkok, as well as with the sex industry. In the spirit of the best social-realist films, Redlife captures the consequences of the economic disparity with a touch of melodrama that highlights the coming-of-age tales of Som and Ter.
Redlife is Klunson’s directorial debut, following work on commercials and short documentaries. On developing the feature, Klunson noted, “Because it was my first film, it was very important for me to create a plot. I wrote 30 pages and it took me two years. Once the plot was there, I added a lot of details. I kept on adding dialogue while we shot.
“However, casting was difficult. I really wanted good performers. Mahayotaruk is actually a very famous actor, so it was good that we were able to cast him. I spent one year for auditions, two or three times a week. I myself attended the auditions. What we first did in the auditions was to ask what the actual lives of actors are to see if their personalities correspond with the characters they play. The actors had different backgrounds. Most of them were first-timers. Some of them, like Mahayotaruk, were experienced. Some came from theater. So we spent a lot of time on rehearsals to build relationships between the characters, to make sure that they could depict the world of Redlife.”
Playing a delinquent living on the margins was challenging for Mahayotaruk, who lost 10 kilos to prepare for the part. Said the actor, “I decided to take this role because I wanted to challenge myself and play a role that is very different from who I am. Before we started it, I spent a lot of time on rehearsing and doing research. Before shooting, I created background stories for the character: what he was doing before the start of this film, what kind of life he had, and how these influence the way he appears on screen. I also visited various locations to better understand what kind of lives people in these areas have.”
The director favored a particular style of acting to realistically convey the harsh reality of the Bangkok slums. According to Klunson, “Personally, I like watching many different genres of films, including American and European films. To me, the acting in these films seems very realistic. In comparison, the culture of acting in Thailand is not as realistic as that of the United States or Europe. I did not want exaggerated acting. I wanted many close-ups that capture facial expressions so that the audience can understand the emotions of the characters.”
Q&A Session: Asian Future
Guest Speakers: Ekalak Klunson (Director/Screenplay/Producer), Thiti Mahayotaruk (Actor)

Premium Partners