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‘Polamuang Juling’ Documents Complex Humanity after a Crime of Hatred

Polamuang Juling / Citizen Juling (Kraisak Choonhavan, Manit Sriwanichpoom, Ing K, Thailand) (European Premiere)
Berlinale Forum, Tuesday, February 10
Read the Forum synopsis

In the spring of 2006, a gang of criminals disguised in full burqa broke into a charity preschool for poor Muslims in southern Thailand, where they imprisoned and beat a Buddhist teacher from the north into a coma from which she never awoke. The 26-year-old teacher, Juling Pongkanmul, died the following year, the object of a nationwide vigil. Her spine crushed in several places, more than forty fractures to her skull, her brain swollen, her brain stem torn and bleeding.

Journalist Ing K, photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom, and opposition senator Kraisak Choohavan journeyed the length of the land to investigate the attack and its context in the rich and tortured culture of Thailand. Mostly they look and listen, leaving interpretation to their interview subjects and the viewer.

The tragedy and the wisdom of their film – beyond documenting Juling’s murder site, her hospital bed, and her childhood home – is our observation that all of the interview subjects are good people. It leads us to wonder who are the bad people who killed Juling, and to pray with her parents that they stop committing crimes like this.

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