Here’s one theatre that’ll be tricky to exit, if you hate the movie and want to storm out in a huff.

Last month, film lovers launched a strange new auditorium in the south of Thailand.

The first ever ‘Film on the Rocks Yao Noi’ film festival was staged on this stunning floating theatre in peaceful turquoise Phang Nga Bay. The theatre was moored just a few metres off the rocky shore of Koh Yao Noi, which is a short boat ride east of Phuket.

The theatre was built on a large raft build out of recycled materials that fit together to make a floating platform. The theatre’s German-born, Beijing-based architect, Ole Scheeren, calls it his Archipelago Cinema. According to this design magazine, Scheeren took his inspiration from the floating lobster farms in Thailand. He then designed the floating theatre as a cluster of modular chunks, built to look like islands which have floated together to form a solid mass.

He said the audience would be “floating, hovering above the sea, somewhere in the middle of this incredible space of the lagoon, focused on the moving images across the water: a sense of temporality, randomness, almost like driftwood.” [Yep, that’s how he talks. I bet he wears a black turtleneck 24/7.]


The festival’s co-curator is offbeat indie film actress/producer, Tilda Swinton. So her film festival’s mission statement is predictably ethereal:

“Film on the Rocks Yao Noi aspires to become an alternative platform upon which different worlds converge in order to start a dialogue with not only each other, but also the environment, human and natural, with which it co-exists.”

Which is nice. Though their website’s pretty arty / confusing, so I have no idea what films she actually showed during the floating 3-night festival.

thaitheatreNo matter. It seems the whole point of the floating theatre (besides a wicked way to spend a date night in Thailand) is to show how temporary our lives and possessions all are.

Case in point: the floating theatre has now been dismantled and donated to a local village. Apparently it’s now become “a playground and floating theatre.”

Here’s hoping the film fest bringS it back for next March, too. I know at least 5,000,000 North Americans who would battle to the death for a chance to enjoy this experience.

So why aren’t we doing this in Canada or the USA?

If you want to see films like this in your hometown this summer, talk to good Ole Scheeren.

Or you can always build your own floating auditorium out of abandoned couches and widescreen TVs that you destroyed after your favourite team was eliminated from the [insert your favourite sports league here] playoffs.

— Ken Hegan

Read all of Ken’s MSN travel posts here and follow Ken to victory on Twitter

Photos by Piyatat Hemmatat, (c) Studio-OS