Preserving Southesast Asia's Movie Palaces (2012)
Working out of Chiang Mai, Thailand, documentary photographer and researcher Philip Jablon has been creating a photographic archive of stand-alone movie theaters across Southeast Asia since 2008 as part of his Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project. Through his evocative images and qualitative research, the Chiang Mai University graduate (who earned an M.A. in Sustainable Development in 2010) wants to cultivate an appreciation of these institutions in the hope of stimulating preservation efforts. Stand-alone movie theaters were not only entertainment venues but also important social centers for the distribution of information and values throughout the 20th century in Southeast Asia. However, their numbers have now rapidly declined in the face of evolving technologies and changing socioeconomic structures and social mores (more recently, for example, movie theaters are built as multiplexes or inside shopping malls). At the current rate of attrition, it is possible that in just a few years such stand-alone theaters may cease to exist in the region.