a film by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng
Near a coastal village of Thailand, by the sea where thousands of Rohingya refugees have drowned, a local fisherman finds an injured man lying unconscious in the forest. He rescues the stranger, who does not speak a word, offers him his friendship and names him Thongchai. But when the fisherman suddenly disappears at sea, Thongchai slowly begins to take over his friend’s life – his house, his job and his ex-wife…
With Supports from:
- Asian Cinema Fund (South Korea)
- Ministry of Culture (Thailand)
- Heyi Pictures (China)
- Strasbourg Eurométropole (France)
- Aide aux cinémas du monde (France)
- Purin Pictures (Thailand)
- 2011 Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum
- 2011 Produire au Sud, Nantes
About the Director:
Phuttiphong Aroonpheng studied fine arts at Bangkok’s Silpakorn University. His short films have screened in festivals including Busan, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Singapore. His latest short, FERRIS WHEEL, screened in over 20 festivals and received
10 awards. He participated in 2009 Asian Film Academy at Busan, and was also selected one of Asian Public Intellectuals fellows by the Nippon Foundation. He also works extensively as cinematographer, with credits including VANISHING POINT (dir. Jakrawal Nilthamrong), THE ISLAND FUNERAL (dir. Pimpaka Towira) and DOLPHINS (dir. Waleed Al-Shehhi). MANTA RAY is his debut feature film.
2018 Venice Film Festival
(Christine Ott & Mathieu Gabry)
Les Films de l'Etranger (France)
The Rohingya, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, have been fleeing their country in rickety boats for years in search of a better life. In January of 2009 in Thailand, six boatloads of Rohingya refugees were towed out and left to be stranded at sea by Thai authorities, and five of them drowned. Three hundred people went missing. In 2015, mass graves were discovered at a human trafficking camp close to the southern Thai border, containing 30 bodies of Rohingya migrants with mysterious cause of death.
Manta Ray is my project dedicated to these victims.
The theme is the obscurity of identity, in the face of the fundamental right that all people have to inhabit their own identity, be it in the form of an official ID card or not. Everyone exists in the same world, and a single name can be shared by many – be they a refugee, an unknown stranger, or even a celebrity.
The story revolves around two main characters – an unknown man washed up from the sea and a Thai fisherman who rescues him.
I can bring myself to understand the resentment the fisherman has towards the stranger to whom he used to offer friendship. And I also understand that the stranger does not wish to take over his friend’s life and possessions. But I would never be able to understand how this tragedy happens here.
I do not wish for any of these characters to be condemned or put on trial. I just hope that the film can reflect this fragility and imperfection of human. At the end, I just would like to make a film with a good intention towards human beings, which I guess is the main reason why I would like to make this film.
- Phuttiphong Aroonpheng