His gaze is steady and unassuming, masking the painful encounter that drove him over the edge.
Consider follows Tay, a Thai teenager, in life after a suicide attempt. Tay is a transgender teen. But he’s also just another adolescent looking for love and acceptance, like everyone else.
In revisiting Tay’s trauma, the filmmaker Panu Saeng-xuto chooses to highlight Tay’s present, over his dark past. We see the little joys of his everyday routine — applying make-up in front of a mirror, lying on his best friend’s lap on the school bus, and frolicking in school.
One of Tay’s teachers is also transgender, a living reminder that it is perfectly possible to lead a fulfilling life regardless of identity in Thailand.
But this documentary does not neglect that a climate of hate against transgender people persists. When confronted alone in front of the camera, Tay is still pensive, burdened by the weight of regret.
Tay’s mother is even more emotional, tearing up as she recounts the harrowing experience of seeing her own child on the cusp of death.
As emotions run raw on-screen, we realise that this is not just a story of a family recovering from tragedy.
Tay’s story shows a society that has yet to realise and recover from its oppression and abuse of minorities, even for Thailand’s relatively liberal treatment of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
But in profiling someone driven to suicide, Panu refuses to go down the well-trod path of sensationalising the hate, and instead focuses on the healing love of Tay’s supporters.
There’s the mother who refuses to cry in front of her child, friends who unquestioningly embrace Tay’s uniqueness, and the transgender teacher revered by her students.
Collectively, the love of these individuals outshines the hate of the past, and paints a future of hope for Tay and for his loved ones.
‘Consider’ screened at film festivals and universities in Japan, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Russia, Finland, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
It’s part of our Chopshots channel on Viddsee.