San Diego Asian Film Festival 2014 presents The Songs of Rice

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Uruphong Raksasad

Studio: Extra Virgin

Review Rating: 7

A visual record of rice culture and its impact, influences, and observances of the people of different parts of Thailand.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this particular film, given the title and short synopsis in the program guide. I thought perhaps there would be rice harvesters and rice rituals with many different songs showcased (there are, scattered here and there), and a narrator who followed the journey of the rice grain from paddy to plate. Instead what we have is a kind of visceral experience unlike any other – we do indeed travel with the rice farmers who are still working and sweating while the rest of us are dead asleep, killing vermin and doing tractor maintenance; we follow the many flavors of Thai people as they head to the Mae Phosop (Thai Rice Goddess) festivals, where we encounter as much diversity as you will find anywhere else in the world. Filmmaker Uruphong Raksasad invites us to attempt to immerse ourselves in the whole experience without commentary, as he does, in the total experience as though we were there standing right next to the cameraman.

Unusual but beautiful, The Songs of Rice is a thoroughly immersive experience that includes all walks of life and the ways and means all of humanity connects through the humble, valuable and forever adored grain of rice.

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