Die Tomorrow

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
2017

18.02. 22:00 Eng. subtitles Zoo Palast 2
19.02. 19:30 Eng. subtitles CinemaxX 4
20.02. 22:30 Eng. subtitles Cubix 9
24.02. 11:00 Eng. subtitles CineStar 8

75 min. Thai.

Are you afraid of death? According to statistics, two people on earth die each second. Die Tomorrow zeroes in on the last day of its protagonists, each of whom have no idea of their fate. The film picks up on six everyday situations and turns them into moving stories. With true lightness of touch, director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit forges shots that play out over considerable time and then combines them with documentary-like interview footage, news reports, sound recordings, statistics and archive material, thus creating an elaborate essay. In view of what is about to happen, small snatches of conversation take on dramatic dimensions for the viewer. The film succeeds in putting across its weighty topic in a manner at once entertaining and serious, even though in the time it takes to watch the film, statistics says that 8,442 people will have died – as well as another 120 in the time it takes to read this text. Death seems distant, but it is never far away, those afraid of it fear life as well. Die Tomorrow inspires reflection: about death but much more about the important, beautiful moments of life – and their fleeting nature. (Ansgar Vogt)

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit was born in Bangkok, Thailand in 1984. While studying Chinese at the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, he began making his first short films, teaching himself as he went. Since graduating in 2006, he has worked as a screenwriter and script consultant and as a film critic. In 2007, he took part in the Berlinale Talent Campus. Since then, he has made several short films, and in 2012, he began making full-length feature and documentary films.

Conversation with Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit: “I don’t think death is serious”

What was the initial idea for DIE TOMORROW?

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit: I never used to think much about death, but over the past five years, I’ve attended many funerals of my friends. They died young from various causes. So I feel death is closer than I think, and we’ll never know which day will be our final day. It could be five minutes from now. Our last moment is always very ordinary, normal and mundane, so I wanted to explore the day before death. It’s the most important day in our lives. And also it was a good opportunity to contemplate death slowly, though the process of scriptwriting and making this film.

The stories in the film are based on news items. What was your process of writing the script and structuring the film?

I collected those news items for many years and I wrote the script based on them, exploring the theme out of them. I needed to make each part a real, ordinary moment, so I decided to make it all one long take focusing on a conversation. It has to be normal, still interesting but not too special, which is quite difficult. You have to balance these elements. It’s easier to write a plot-driven story.  

As well as the segmented stories, the film also includes found footage and parts of interviews. Why did you choose this format for the film?

I didn’t want it to be another omnibus film so I found a new way to combine those six short films into one film, and it turned out to be an essay film format. The film is like the archives of death. It contains fictional short films, interviews, short clips, audio recordings and statistics.    

Though the film’s subject is of course serious, it does not feel heavy or dark. What tone did you have in mind and how did you strike this balance?

I wanted this film to be slow and calm and to give the audience the space and time to look thoughtfully at it. Because, in the end, I don’t think death is serious. It’s just one process of life we all have to go through. The most important thing is how we live today and now. DIE TOMORROW is not a sentimental film about death.

Many of the actors are ones you’ve worked with previously. Why did you choose to return to these actors, and what was it like working with them again on this different kind of project?

In keeping with the theme of the film, I was aware from the start that this could be my final film before I die. So if it turned out like that, I wanted all the actors and actresses from all of my previous films to be in DIE TOMORROW. The funeral is like a reunion of friends. This film is also like that.
It was fun to get these old actors and actresses to be in an independent film, which has less pressure to satisfy financial goals. We just rolled with the project together and they had the chance to try new roles they’d never done before. The result is that we got unexpected performances out of them.

After making your studio film, what led you to return to independent filmmaking for DIE TOMORROW?

I always go back and forth between studio films and independent films. It depends on the story and the project. This film is quite personal and experimental so I produced it myself. Next year I will go back to making a film with a studio.

How did you fund this production?

We got some money from the Ministry of Culture in Thailand and got sponsored by the post-production company and by a foundation that supports independent films.

(Interview: Asian Shadows)

Production Pacharin Surawatanapongs, Donsaron Kovitvanitcha. Production companies Very Sad Pictures (Bangkok, Thailand), Donsaron Kovitvanitcha (Bangkok, Thailand). Written and directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit. Director of photography Niramon Ross. Editing Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Chonlasit Upanigkit. Music Tongta Jitdee, Pokpong Jitdee. Sound design Nopawat Likitwong. Sound Disarin Ninlawong. Production design Phairot Siriwath. With Patcha Poonpiriya, Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Morakot Liu, Chonnikan Netjui, Koramit Vajrasthira, Sirat Intarachote, Sunny Suwanmethanont, Rattanarat Aurthaveekul, Jarinporn Joonkiat, Violette Wautier.

World sales Asian Shadows

Films

2004: Baan Hod / My Shrunk House (15 min.). 2006: See (9 min.), Bangkok Tanks (6 min.), Yuriem Pen Pua Farang (30 min.). 2007: Penguin (40 min.). 2009: Français (30 min.), Pee Mee Yak Pai Egypt / Mr. Mee Wanna Go to Egypt (20 min.). 2010: Cherie Pen Look Krung Kao Lee / Cherie is Korean-Thai (19 min.), Maythawee (30 min.). 2011: I Believe That Over 1 Million People Hate Maythawee. 2012: 36 (68 min.), Sorry (18 min.). 2013: Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy (127 min.). 2014: The Master (79 min.), Patcha is Sexy (9 min.). 2015: Ham Puay.. Ham Phak..Ham Rak Mor / Heart Attack (126 min.). 2017: Die Tomorrow.