Haunted vacuum tale sweeps up grant money at Swiss film fest

Denied support at home, a group of Thai filmmakers scored money to make their quirky ghost film yesterday at a European film festival.

The minds behind dark comedy A Useful Ghost won the Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors award and pocketed a grant of CHF35,000 (THB1.2 million/US$36,000) for its production.

Directed by Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke and produced by Cattleya Paosrijaroen, the film deals with a Thai family whose matriarch, Nat, dies of respiratory disease caused by air pollution and comes back to haunt their vacuum cleaner. While others are afraid of the poltergeisting appliance, Nat’s husband sees a chance to reunite the family.

Cattleya told Variety upon receiving the award that the crew had struggled from a lack of any government funding support at home.

Her 185 Films studio was behind another Thai film that earlier this year won high acclaim on the international stage, The Edge of Daybreak.

Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, at center, and Cattleya Paosrijaroen, at right, at the Locarno Film Festival’s Open Door award ceremony. Photo: Massino Pedrazzini / Locarno Film Festival
Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, at center, and Cattleya Paosrijaroen, at right, at the Locarno Film Festival’s Open Door award ceremony. Photo: Massino Pedrazzini / Locarno Film Festival

Ratchapoom said of the concept that he wanted to defy the traditional Thai horror narratives and instead tell a new ghost story that can reflect on the country’s political and social issues.

The crew aims to begin filming next year.

A Useful Ghost was among eight projects from Southeast Asia and Mongolia selected for Locarno’s Open Doors. Another Thai film, 9 Temples to Heaven by director Sompot Chidgasornpongse, also took home the ARTE Kino International Prize grant, worth roughly US$7,000.

The Locarno Film Festival, held in the south of Switzerland, ends Saturday.

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