Interview: Ping Lumpraploeng of ‘The Pool’ at the Asian Pop-Up Cinema, Oct. 2, 2019

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CHICAGO – Season Nine of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC) celebrates Thailand and the Philippines this week, and starts off with the tense thriller “The Pool” (Thailand), on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 (7pm) at the AMC River East 21 Theatre. Director Ping Lumpraloeng will appear on behalf of the film. For more info and tickets, click here.

“The Pool” involves a couple stuck in the desolated title location that is twenty feet (six meters) deep … they’re stuck without food/water, a ladder or a way out, and somehow need to survive. To make matters more challenging, an unfriendly amphibian is teetering on the brink of joining them. “The Pool” is Ping Lumpraplerng’s (“Loveaholic,” “Dreamaholic”) fourth film, and features Thai superstar Ken Theeradeth Wonpuapan, who returns to big screen for the first time in nine years. It won the Critic’s Prize at the 2019 Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.

APUC continues with Ping Lumpraploeng’s ‘The Pool’ from Thailand
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This North American Premiere is part of the program-packed Season Nine of APUC, as their new format (multiple films per week) highlights a different Asian country or theme every week. Next week, Hong Kong will be in the spotlight. APUC is facilitated by founder and veteran film programmer Sophia Wong Bocchio, and Season Nine features films from South Korea, China, Japan, Thailand, the Phillippines, and Hong Kong, among others. The films mainly screen at Chicago’s AMC River East 21, with various other locations throughout the season (click link below at the end of the article for more details).

Patrick McDonald of talked to director Ping Lumpraploeng through an interpreter in anticipation of the October 2nd screening. The director is also a writer and performer/actor. What was the inspiration for this story and what fascinates you about people being trapped like this as a way to build a story?

Ping Lumpraploeng: I began writing the script ten years ago, when I was at a low point in my life. In my mind, the only way to go was ‘up,’ so I gave the same motivation to the character in ‘The Pool.’ He had to go up to survive, and he used love to do it. So all the symbolism was there … the pool, the need to go up, and most importantly the motivation of love to survive. Was there something in the film that was so native to Thailand in the characters that only people from that country could understand it?

Lumpraploeng: It’s up to the individual and their experience as to what they understand, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with Thailand. My duty is to wake them up and make them excited about the story, and its also my goal. I want them to enjoy the film, become excited about it and wake them up, what an audience member gets after that – based on their own perspective on the world – is up to them. As a director and writer, how would you define the types of stories that interest you to create a visual art like a film? What type or style of plot is likely to spur your interest?

Director Ping Lumpraploeng
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Lumpraploeng: My philosophy toward creating a film is to ‘wake up’ the audience in some way. And another characteristic of story for me is only having one location. I like the challenge of setting a film in one location. You are also an actor in many of your films and other people’s films. How does being a performer make you a better director, and how does being a storyteller make you a better actor?

Lumpraploeng: As an actor, I turn to the director for help and guidance, after figuring out what I need from him. So when I’m in the director’s chair, I want to do the same thing for my actors, to allow them to understand what the character they are playing needs. To me it’s part of the writing process, to establish their motivations.

But I also want to emphasize that I will not act for them. I want the actor to use their performance muscle on their own. I guide them to what is inside them to interpret what I need, and let them go. What is the best advice you’ve ever received about being a filmmaker, and how do you honor that advice in the filming of ‘The Pool’?

Lumpraploeng: I’ve read a lot about directors and their techniques. But it boils down to an essential thought … ‘what do I want to say?’ I have to honor that frame of action, and communicate to the audience the visual and story elements that will allow them to understand what I am saying.

Season Nine of Asian Pop-Up Cinema continues with “The Pool” on Wednesday, October 2nd,, 2019 (7pm), at the AMC River East 21, 322 East Illinois Street, Chicago. Director Ping Lumpraploeng will make an appearance on behalf of the film.For a complete overview on Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

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