Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
An architect, feeling past his use-by date, and his long-lost elephant take a road trip across Thailand to find their childhood home in this rueful, funny Sundance award winner. Once a cutting-edge architect in Bangkok, Thana is facing the imminent demolition of the mall that was once his crowning glory. His wife’s flagrant lack of concern is doing nothing to quiet his fear of obsolescence. Wandering the streets of the city he is amazed to come across a fellow throwback, Pop Aye, the elephant he grew up with in his rural village. On a whim he buys Pop Aye and sets off on a road trip, walking and hitching back to where they came from. On the way they befriend a succession of equally uprooted characters, from a wild-haired vagabond who seems to foretell the future to a ladyboy with karaoke aspirations.
In her debut feature Singapore writer/director Kirsten Tan takes full advantage of the beautiful scenery, characterful actors and a charismatic elephant to tell a story about our drift from fundamental human needs and values. Her tale of man and pachyderm is unsentimental, gently comic and thoughtful.
“It takes gumption, or downright foolhardiness, to shoot a debut feature in a foreign land, let alone one that depends on a giant animal in the title role. Yet, Singaporean writer-director Kirsten Tan has pulled off Pop Aye with candour and laid-back aplomb. A road movie set in Thailand… this bucolic escape from big-city life is anchored by a solid script filled with characters who, despite reaching the end of the road, find ways to make peace with the world.” — Maggie Lee, Variety