Exacerbated both by modernization so unchecked it has transformed the Thai central basin into a concrete jungle of industrial zones, housing estates and entertainment complexes (with little of the natural irrigation once provided by canals, forests and fields), and the man-made city ‘big bag’ wall designed to divert the northern run-off from its natural passage through central Bangkok, the severe flooding of the 2011 monsoon season left hundreds of thousands of rural and suburban addresses abandoned in stagnant waters for several months.
Director Rupert James continues to cast his beautifully composed eye over tragic scenes of destruction and lost in his new haunting documentary portrait Adrift.
As was the case for those affected by the flood, the production was somewhat of a challenge with Rupert having to navigate a week of wading through neck-deep, electrically conductive, crocodile-infested sewerage. Traversing miles of these seen (dead animals and raging currents) and unseen (uneven ground and holes) hazards, Rupert found himself in hospital for a week after the cuts and blisters he sustained turned septic. However, whilst the environment was less than welcoming, a warm reception and assistance provided by the locals was more than forthcoming:
More often than not I hitched rides with locals or was offered food and respite from the elements – the water and the sun – with those stranded and camped out. I was met with hospitality almost every time I helped to give out handouts. The kindness I witnessed from all – prim aunties in wooden cottages and street kids living under tarpaulin on bridges – matched only the courage, stoicism and sheer inventiveness of these people, in many cases almost completely isolated from the world but getting on with life. Credit must go to all those who survived.