Rose sets the stage in Bangkok in the black Midland boot

PROGRESS ISsharing your story

Rose Aksornsawang on being a young director and forging connections through film.

Photographed in Bangkok, Thailand

Rose Aksornsawang sitting on a stool beneath a sign that reads 'Bangkok Screening Room'

I studied film at a university in Germany for my Master’s degree. When I moved to Germany, I had to separate from my family. Before I left home we didn’t have a very strong connection and just talked on the phone a few times a week. When I left I felt homesick, so I had to find other ways to connect with my mom. She would send me photos from Thailand, and I kept and collected them, and later it became an inspiration for my first film. We used photos as a new way to communicate, and it also provided me with a new source of inspiration.

My first film included documentary style elements about the connection between my mom and I, and then I added fictional elements to it as well. It’s the story of my mom passing away. I brought everything that she sent to me into my film to make it more of a diary. After a screening in China, there was a woman in the audience who came up to me and touched me and said, “Thank you for the film.” Her friend told me that she had lost her mother too, and that she doesn’t have photos and videos to go back to. She felt like the film was her story too. It’s very impactful. Film is more than language. You can send a connection between you and the audience.

“Don’t let other people’s assumptions about what types of stories women can tell hold you back. Believe in your story, and try to find an opportunity to go for it.”

At film festivals the spotlight is often put on female directors, but sometimes for me it’s like “Treat me like a director, not a female director.” We all have a voice; male, female, LGBT...focus on our stories and our work. It’s nice to not just have the spotlight on male directors, but I think it’s more important to not label people.

My advice to up-and-coming female directors is to tell the story they believe in. What they feel sincerely about. If you feel strongly about telling a romantic story, or a lighter story, go for it. Don’t let other people’s assumptions about what types of stories women can tell hold you back. Believe in your story, and try to find an opportunity to go for it. You can’t only have an idea, you have to find ways to share your work. Go to film festivals, and get it out there so that people can see your work.

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