THE SONGS OF RICE
Directed by Uruphong Raksasad
Tiger Award, 2014 International Film Festival Rotterdam
Official Selection, 2014 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema
Official Selection, 2014 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
A fisherman dips his bait into a rice paddy. It’s a surreal scene: a fishing pole arching over a sea of grass. As the first scene of THE SONGS OF RICE, it also sets the tone. This won’t be a documentary of explanations or procedures. It’ll be one of sheer visual splendor and the thrill of connecting to people without qualification. For a most captivating 75 minutes, the rituals and recreation of rice farmers will come alive and rockets will literally burst into the air.
This is the latest work of Uruphong Raksasad (Agrarian Utopia) who, for ten years now, has committed to making films about rice farmers in Thailand. He has the eye of a painter and the lyricism of a poet, finding a way to pair the moonlight with insects on the ground, and more memorably, to create a collage of visual rhymes, especially dazzling images of spinning circles.
THE SONGS OF RICE is aptly titled because it speaks to the ways these rice farmers live their lives like works of art. Harvesting, operating machinery, praying, dancing, playing – all tap into a life force that starts with a seed planted into the marsh. What makes the film so effective and moving is the way director Uruphong Raksasad feels a kinship with fellow artists and allows the majestic ways they paint the world to overwhelm and enchant the screen. –Brian Hu