Filmmakers recruit public to bring story of Bangkok’s young slum rappers to Netflix

A scene from ‘School Town King.’
A scene from ‘School Town King.’

The makers of a film about rappers in Bangkok’s sprawling Khlong Toei slum are asking the public to help get their documentary onto streaming platform Netflix.

Director Wattanapume Laisuwanchai and the folks behind production studio Eyedropper Fill are asking people to urge Netflix to add School Town King to its roster.

The film, which took three years to create, follows young Khlong Toei rappers Thanayuth “Book” Na Ayutthaya, aka Eleven Finger, and Nontawat “Non” Toma, aka Crazy Kids, as they work to break into the music scene and out of poverty. Interspersed with studio shots and rap performances, the film also lays bare the reality of life in Bangkok’s notorious riverside community.

Khlong Toei Rising: Anxiety and unity in Bangkok’s biggest slum

School Town King premiered at at last year’s Busan International Film Festival alongside Come and See, a Thai documentary chronicling the controversial Buddhist sect Dhammakaya now available on Netflix. 

School Town King enjoyed a limited December release in theaters and was briefly available for on-demand viewing on Vimeo, where a portion of the proceeds were donated to the Duang Prateep Foundation.

A scene from 'School Town King.'
A scene from ‘School Town King.’

But Wattanapume and company feel it could have more of an impact. The film’s promo page last week called on followers “to help the film’s message reach an audience that may not have had the opportunity to watch it in theaters.” 

“Through the real-life story of Book and Non, the movie might expand your perspective and lead to social change,” it said.

A scene from 'School Town King.'
A scene from ‘School Town King.’

The two rappers share the same hope.

Throughout the film, the two talk about the high bar they must clear just to get out of the slums, as well as some of the deeper issues plaguing Thailand, from deepening inequality to widespread injustices. But they add that they want their music to help erase negative perceptions about Klong Toey and someday change society for the better. 

Sometimes, their lyrics are imbued with anger, which would seem to undermine their message of hope. 

In a song called Slum Khlong Toei, which has notched over four million views on YouTube, teenager Crazy Kids expresses outrage over the discrimination he and his neighbors experience. Bars like “I’m a kid from the slum / the one you looked down on like scum” leave little room for interpretation.

Yet both rappers show a maturity beyond their years. Even before starring in the documentary, Eleven Finger last year gathered more than 48 local rappers to perform at This is Klong Toey Compton, a rap battle meant to inspire other kids his age who want to follow the same path.

He was arrested alongside other rappers in August 2020 after taking his anti-establishment message to the protest stage.

School Town King’s trailer is available online. The filmmakers are asking supporters to formally request Netflix add it to the service.

This story originally appeared in BK.

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