Monday, March 5, 2012 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Insects in the Backyard (Thailand, 2010, 93 mins, HDCAM) , Curated by Jian Chen, OSU Assistant Professor of English
Visually striking, melancholic, and steadfast in its determination, Tanwarin Sukkahpisit’s digital film shows a disintegrating family of two teenagers and their katoey single parent. Searching for escape, comfort, and new experiences, each family member explores sex and sexuality in isolation. And teenage son and daughter get involved in prostitution.
Made on less than 500,000 Thai baht (about $15,760 U.S. dollars), Insects in the Backyard is a semi-autobiographical debut for Sukkahpisit, a former college English teacher turned filmmaker who stars in this feature and also thirteen of her self-directed short films. The digital film had its world premiere in the 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema, and screened also at the 2010 World Film Festival of Bangkok. But the Thailand Cultural Ministry’s National Film Board banned Insects in the Backyard from domestic general release based on what it considers immoral and obscene content.
Adamant about telling stories that capture the social problems faced by katoeys, gays, and youth, who she calls the "insects in the backyard" of Thai society, Sukkahpisit has refused to cut key scenes in order to appease the Thailand National Film Board. The director has also stated publically that, contrary to how the world might perceive Thailand, prostitution, homosexuality, and katoeys do not represent the norm in Thai society. Sukkahpisit’s negotation of her film’s censorship at home and migrating reception abroad show the complex interplay between local, national, and transnational cultural economies through the terms and imagery of deviant sexuality and gender.