A Thai-Buddhist couple struggles to find closure after cryopreserving their two-year-old daughter - all while their whiz kid teenage son goes on a journey to discover if science will ever revive her.
Interview with Director/Producer Pailin Wedel
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I wanted to profile a family grappling with existential themes of life and death in a totally unique way. I also think the documentary serves as a counterweight to themes of backwardness that dominate Western portrayals of Southeast Asia.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Hope Frozen is a documentary about a family of Thai scientists who decides to cryopreserve their two-year-old daughter following her death from cancer. She was the youngest person in the world to be cryopreserved. The documentary reveals a family in mourning, seeking answers not only from Buddhism but from their profound faith in science. It’s a glimpse into how technology will change the way we grieve in the 21st century.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I want people to think about the universal theme of how technology is now blurring the very meaning of life and death. I’m not in any way saying that this particular technique — cryopreservation — will bring people back to life. But tech giants are spending a lot of money on radical life extension. Defeating death could be humanity’s biggest endeavor in the 21st century. And it may totally fail. But it’s being attempted. How will humans change during this pursuit? I want viewers to personally reflect on this. What are the societal repercussions?
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
We filmed the family over more than two years. Initially, the little girl's father is the main character. But as time went on, the person who grew the most is his eldest son, Matrix. We began filming when he was just thirteen and by the time we were done he was sixteen. He didn't just grow up physically but also emotionally. As a whiz-kid teen, he began to internalize the family's dream to revive her one day and takes on the responsibility to make that dream a reality. He ended up becoming the main character in the second half.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Even though Hot Docs is the world premiere, friends and family who have privately seen it say the film stayed in their minds for days. The themes grab you and force you to reflect on what it all means.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I'm looking forward to more diverse feedback from a public audience and can let you know if that has changed my point of view about the film.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I want people to come to watch the film at Hot Docs!
HOT DOCS (Toronto, Canada)
Sat, Apr 27 9:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Mon, Apr 29 12:00 PM Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 3
Thu, May 2 4:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Film Festival Directors and buyers, please.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like people abroad to realize that there are different types of stories coming from Thailand. Stories that come out of this region often focus on tourism or human rights abuses. While those stories are important, I think they tend to make viewers think about how different Thailand is to their country. But I hope the very human themes in this film help viewers realize how similar we are existentially in the issues we grapple with.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
As technology continues to develop at this rapid pace, where do we want to end up as a society?
Would you like to add anything else?
Nope! I think you've covered a pretty good range of topics.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I've just finished up another half hour episode of Al Jazeera English's 101 East, a current affairs reportage documentary program. It was about Asia's Meth Boom. I am toying with a few ideas for my next feature documentary and have been especially interested in how language shapes our perception of reality. Nina Ijas, our editor and co-scriptwriter, has just finished editing a fiction series called Invisible Heroes about a young Finnish diplomat who secretly secured asylum in Europe for more than 2,000 left-wing Chilean citizens persecuted by Pinochet’s military junta. Mark Dobbin ACS, our DOP is now in London working on reportage new features. Mark Oltmanns, our second DOP has continued to film hard-hitting journalistic docs including Flint Town that was released on Netflix. Dug Moore is in Los Angeles now and editing various short TV projects. Both our composer Chapavich Temnitikul and sound designer Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr are the top guys in Thailand for what they do and are working on multiple Thai projects.
Interview: April 2019
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A Thai-Buddist couple struggles to find closure after cryopreserving their two-year-old daughter - all while their whiz kid teenage son goes on a journey to discover if science will ever revive her.
Director: Pailin Wedel
Producer: Pailin Wedel
Writer: Pailin Wedel, Nina Ijäs
About the writer, director and producer:
PAILIN WEDEL is a Thai-American journalist and filmmaker who grew up in Asia. She works on documentaries that focus on themes of faith, trauma and the clash between the East and the West. Hope Frozen is her first feature-length documentary film. Aside from her television work with channels such as Al Jazeera English and Bloomberg, she also films pieces for The New York Times and National Geographic. She began her career as a photojournalist at newspapers.
NINA IJAS lives in Helsinki and Berlin and specializes in documentary and commercial projects. She has worked on several projects with Finnish Public broadcaster YLE and was the principal editor on a Korean feature-length documentary titled, Family in the Bubble. The film won the grand prize at the 14th EBS International Documentary Festival. A short film that she edited, Heart of the Land, Toivola, screened at HotDocs and Docpoint among several other prominent festivals.
Key cast: Sahatorn Naovaratpong, Nareerat Naovaratpong, Matrix Naovaratpong
Looking for: sales agents, film festival directors, buyers
Facebook: Hope Frozen
Hashtags used: #hopefrozendoc #documentary #thailand #futurism #cryonics #Buddhism #faith
Made in association with: Bili Bili
Funders: The Whickers
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Sat, Apr 27 9:00pm/Hot Docs/Toronto, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 - Mon, Apr 29 12:00pm/Hot Docs/Toronto, Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 3 - Thu, May 2 4:15 PM/Hot Docs/Toronto, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1