Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Fa Lanna Cinema - Lampang, Thailand

The substandard quality of these photos has kept them suppressed in an unseen state, hidden away in a remote corner of a remote file in a digital cabinet, collecting digidust for months on end. But with a dwindling supply of my own material to post, I had to settle. Here it is, the Fa Lanna Cinema.

The Fa Lanna Cinema decays in the middle of Asawin Market in downtown Lampang. Its abandonment only dates back 6 or 7 years, prior to which it was one of Lampang's premiere first-run movie theaters. Asawin Market continues to thrive, as many open-air fresh markets do, but in the absence of cinema it lacks the kind of stimulating appeal that it had in years past. It must have been nice to snack on some freshly grilled sai uwa (northern Thai sausage) before ducking into the Fa Lanna.

Classic signage


An old storage room falling to pieces

Roof aperture and screen decay

Fa Lanna translates to "Lanna Sky," Lanna being the traditional name for the provinces of Thailand's upper north. It means "one million rice fields." Chiang Mai had long been the de facto capital of the Lanna region, though political unity among the various city-states was likely more tenuous than is often cited in history books. At the end of 19th century the Lanna provinces were annexed by Bangkok to become part of greater Siam, though maintaining a cultural identity independent of Bangkok has been a local priority ever since. In a titular way, the Fa Lanna Cinema was one manifestation of northern pride; a passive assertion of identity in the face of Bangkok's economic and cultural domination. But in Lampang today, the lone operating movie theater is a Thana Cineplex, subsidiary of the Bangkok-based Phranakorn Films. So much for local ownership in the movie theater business.

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