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Cult Thai Director Blends History With Whodunnit in ‘Francis Chit’

Nonzee Nimibutr, director of cult Thai hits “Nang Nak” and “Jan Dara,” is at the Busan Asian Project Market with “Francis Chit of Siam.”
Set in 1864 Siam, as Thailand was then known, the film traces the rivalry between Chit Chitrakanee, aka Francis Chit, the Asian pioneer of wet plate photography, and famous British photographer John Thomson.
Photography was considered black magic in the region those days, and when a series of nobles begin dying after being photographed by Chit and Thomson, the pair are prime suspects in the deaths and must join forces to clear their names and find the real killer.
“I saw an exhibition of pictures by John Thomson in Bangkok and was fascinated by them,” said Nimibutr. “I did some further research and found Chit. He was the most famous photographer of  that time but nobody in Thailand knows him now. That’s why I became interested in his history.”
Nimibutr penned the story outline that was expanded into a script by Kongdej Jaturanrasamee (“Tom Yum Goong”).
About the treatment of the film Nimibutr said, “I want to tell the historical part of the story in half an hour. After that it is fiction and full of thrills, suspense and action.”
The film is produced by Nimibutr and Namon Pongvilai (“Timeline”) for their outfit Cinemasia. The budget is $2.5 million, of which $1.5 million has already been committed by producing partners Transformation Films (“Mr. Hurt”).
Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai, lead singer of immensely popular Thai rock band Bodyslam, will make his feature debut as Chit.
“We want to cast a well-known U.K. actor in the role of John Thomson,” said Pongvilai.
Principal photography will commence in May.

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