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Cutting-edge archives project Thailand's film history

In a remote Bangkok suburb, a museum and a preservation lab realize a movie dream

The Thai Film Archive complex features a wax figure of Thai Indian producer and director R.D. Pestonji. (All photos courtesy of the Thai Film Archive)

BANGKOK -- At the heart of Thailand's stylish new Thai Film Museum, attached to the Thai Film Archive complex, there is a wax figure of R.D. Pestonji, a Thai Indian producer and director of groundbreaking feature films, sitting beside a hulking camera set up for a crane shot on a mock set.

In the museum's greatest coup, researchers found a copy of the popular 1954 romance, "Santi-Vina," which Pestonji produced, at the British Film Institute in London after restoring the 1961 thriller "Black Silk," which he directed. Both were significant enough to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and are among the 19 films suggested by the archive that are now streaming on Netflix -- a symbol of how, in the words of archive director Chalida Uabumrungjit, "We work with the past, present and future."

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