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France’s Haut Les Mains Boards Thai Film ‘A Useful Ghost’

French independent producer Haut Les Mains has come on board “A Useful Ghost,” a film project that is both topical and supernatural. The deal was announced on the margins of the Cannes Film Festival and its accompanying rights market.

“A Useful Ghost” follows March and Nat, a happily married couple, and their seven-year-old son Dot. Nat dies of respiratory disease caused by air pollution. A saddened March is worried that the same fate will befall his son, who gradually develops similar symptoms. Nat then returns as a ghost haunting the house vacuum cleaner to try and suck up the dust hurting her son. She also longs to be accepted as part of society and intends to prove that by getting rid of the less useful ghosts.

The film is produced by Cattleya Paosrijaroen and Soros Sukhum (Netflix film “Hunger”) for Bangkok-based 185 Films Co. Last year Singapore-based art house producer Momo Films came on board as a co-producer.

The project is currently in the financing stage and isexpected to start principal photography later this year. It has received multiple grants and support from project markets. These include the Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant 2023 from Singapore’s IMDA, the Locarno Open Doors Award, Next Masters Support Program – Talent Tokyo,  Production funding from Purin Pictures and the Southeast Asian Film Lab Award by the Singapore film festival.

Haut Les Mains is headed by Karim Aitouna, a film producer who works between France and Morocco. His credits include Anna Roussillon’s award-winning 2014 documentary “I Am the People,” Ahmed Fawzi’s 2018 title “Poisonous Roses,” which played at Rotterdam and was Egypt’s Oscar submission, and “Europe” by Philip Scheffner, which played at the Berlinale in 2022.

The project is topical as Thailand is increasingly suffering from smoke and dust pollution caused by industrialization and agricultural farming. “Also, Thais always use dust allegorically [about] people who are unfairly treated as sub-human and Thailand has plenty of them due to social inequality […] With numerous unresolved deaths, murders, and forced disappearances, Thailand is haunted by its own ghosts. ‘A Useful Ghost’ then is not only a story about ghosts, it is about the resistance of people who struggle to be heard, seen, and remembered despite the oppression they face,” said Aitouna.

Ratchapoom is a seasoned film and TV screenwriter and was awarded multiple awards for his 2020 short film “Red Aninsri; Or, Tiptoeing on the Still Trembling Berlin Wall.”

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