Director: Yongyoot Thongkongtoon
Studio: Strand Releasing
About This DVD
Gay volleyballers pack Thai cinemas but remain in the closet
A riotous Thai movie immortalising the triumphs of a real-life gay volleyball team has sparked wild excitement among cinema audiences here renowned for their conservative tastes.But the runaway success of the slapstick comedy Satree Lex (Iron ladies) forms an ironic contrast to the struggle for acceptance faced by Thailand's homosexual community in a rigidly traditional society.
Satree Lex tells the story of the lives and loves of a predominantly gay volleyball team from Bangkok which won a gold medal in Thailand's National Games in 1996. As well as portraying the team's sporting success, it delves into the personal lives of the players, emphasizing their struggle to build team spirit. Movie-goers have been cramming into theatres in their thousands, sending the low-budget feature shooting to the top of movie charts dominated by subtitled Western blockbusters. Satree Lex has earned 76 million baht (two million dollars) in the two weeks since its release and is the second most popular Thai movie ever after last year's epic Nang Nak. Hilarious scenes of camp free-wheeling frivolity played out on the big screen however do not reflect the semi-covert reality of gay life in Thailand.
Only one of the actors in the movie is a genuine gay, reflecting the unease of Thailand's conventional cinema audiences when confronted with homosexuality. Prominent academic Seri Wongmontha, who came out as a gay decades ago, said Thailand would still not accept a "gay" movie. "If they had cast real gay people, people would not have gone to see the movie as they do not want to support gays," he said.
While gays and lesbians do not face persecution in Thailand, they are peacefully tolerated rather than viewed as legitimate members of society. And gays must also live with the stigma of AIDS, which is often still viewed as a "gay plague" here, despite the notorious red light districts of the capital and Pattaya which have been a breeding ground for the disease. Some gay campaigners have expressed concern that the movie, far from helping Thai gays win mainstream acceptance, will make their lives more miserable.
Gay rights activists Pakorn Pimthon, 37, was worried that the movie lampoons gays by using camp stereotypes. "Society is changing now and gays are changing along with it, but we do not overtly express ourselves in an outrageous way anymore," Pakorn said.
The director of Satree Lex, Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, told AFP that he was not aiming to make a political point about homosexuality by making the film. Rather, he said, the movie was supposed to reflect universal values as hard work and perseverence.
"The Iron Ladies (Satree-lex)" tells the story about Thai male volleyball players that successfully won national championships in 1996. Their skills and talents of playing volleyball are second to none. What matter is that most of them are gays.
"Mon," who is a talented volleyball player fails to be selected to join the team times and times again because he is gay.
"Jung," Monís best friend, also experiences the same failure, but is much more optimistic and willing to be shoulder to cry on for him. The door of opportunity has opened to both of them when the new coach comes to town. Coach Bee is assigned by the Sheriff to make a team, representing the province. The announcement of forming a dream team is new hope, not only to Mon and Jung, but also to Man, an arrogant player, and Chai, an enthusiastic one.
Mon, Jung, man, and Chai can make it to the team. Man is selected to be the captain. Before all, he uses the authority of the captain to get rid of the gay players. When Coach Bee disagrees, Man and his gang walk out on them.
Jung and Mon help Coach Bee by gathering the old good friends to make the team. Coach Bee has finally met Nong, a gay sergeant of the army; Pia, a transsexual star of Cabaret Show, along with her boyfriend, Chat, and Wit, the only son of a Chinese family that his being gay is unknown to them. To their surprise, upon their return to tLampang Province, they found out that Coach Bee has another 3 new players to join them. Much more surprise than that, the new three are also gays! Everyone is happy, but Chai, the only straight man of the team.
The team goes well in the play-offs. After that, their vacation leaves are over. They have to return to their regular jobs. Six months seem to be long enough to be well prepared for the big match, but their absence of practicing is no more than a trouble. The one whom Coach Bee worries most is Pia; her breaking-up with Chat may stop her from coming back to the team. However, everyone gathers again, including Pia because friends become what he needs most in the time of sorrow. Spending time together for a month before the big match is important to them. They learn about how to be together in harmony, understand more of each other, and overcome the obstacles between them. It is not easy; they all know it. The situation gets worse when some authoritative committees want to get rid of them for being gays. They must put their hearts and souls together in order to win the championship, and most importantly, themselves.
|Audio Format:||DD 5.1 Surround|
|Video Format:||Widescreen 1.85:1|
|Special Features:||- Interactive Menus
- Scenes Access
- Original Theatrical Trailer
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