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The airport was ready for a siege, with barricades stacked up but not in place. Otherwise there was no sign of trouble. Still, I didn't know until that moment whether I'd physically make it to Toronto.

In the week preceding my departure from Bangkok, thousands of people had descended on Government House (the Thai equivalent of the White House), exuberantly and unstoppably flooding through the gates and ant-hilling over the stately wall to set up camp with plastic sheets; 3 days before departure the government sent in riot police to evict them (without success) using tear gas and batons, resulting in many injuries including a paramedic who was trying to help an old woman protester who had fallen down in the melee; in sympathy for the protesters, railways shut down nation-wide and people seized 3 major airports in the South including on the international tourist island of Phuket. Thai International (my airline) flight attendants threatened to go on strike to protest government brutality.

But now the plane is taking off. 6 hours to Tokyo, 14 more to Toronto, then 2 more hours on a bus straight from the airport to Niagara Falls. Seems strange to me that it's as hot as Bangkok. Even weirder, though not surprising, that civilised man should've done its best to trivialise and tame such an immensity of nature. Perhaps the sight of so much potential to Death and Power arouses the reproductive instinct conducive to the honeymoon. A voice says (in practiced drone please): "The Adventure Pass entitles you to the Maid of the Mist boat ride into the Horseshoe bowl, Journey Behind the Falls...and unlimited rides on the People Mover shuttle." I nearly kill my video camera in the spray, but I get all the awesome shots of "crazy water" that I need for the witches' scene in my next project.

Next morning's first email from home: violent clash between protesters and pro-government thugs has resulted in casualties on both sides on the streets of Bangkok. On there are pictures that make me cry. Breakfast at Simon's Restaurant, the oldest diner in Niagara Falls, a hundred year old time capsule full of "colourful local characters" and old timers, I see a story on page 2 of the Toronto Star headlined: Thai Democracy Endangered. Clearly malicious rather than simply ignorant, the piece calls the people occupying Government House "rightwing protesters" who are trying to bring down a democratically elected government. A big AP photo accompanies it: a vicious-looking man holding a scary machete--it's Rwanda'94 in Bangkok. There is no caption identifying the man. Only if you could read Thai, and not many Canadians do, would you know from his headband that he's a government goon artificially organised to crush the anti-government protest.  The implication is obvious: this man is one of those rightwing morons occupying Government House.

I'm homesick to my stomach. The government has declared Emergency Rule, giving dictatorial powers to the unpopular prime minister. Why am I sitting here with a BLT in Niagara Falls and going to the Toronto Film Festival tomorrow? I should be home suffering with the rest of Thailand.

Email from our Programmer, Raymond Phattanavirangoon, who warns that he's being attacked for showing , Citizen Juling an "anti-democratic film". One attacker recommends that I practice "auto-criticism". I wish my co-directors Kraisak and Manit were here to face the potential hostility with me.

Though he's been seriously sick, Raymond very sweetly and conscientiously gets out of bed to face the music with me by introducing the film at its world premiere on Saturday (6th Sept, 4 pm). He goes home to rest and gets up again to come back to the theatre to conduct the Q & A after it ends.

The audience size is surprisingly respectable; there are more than the 5 people I know in Toronto. But there's no drama, only warm, supportive people who stay to the bitter end--no mean feat considering we're the third or fourth longest film in the festival, on a grim subject full of weeping people in a small country on the far side of the world.  The questions are amazingly knowledgeable and sympathetic (one guy even brings up the Toronto Star piece which had pissed him off) and goes on so long that they have to ask us to take it outside as the next film is about to start. Interestingly, apart from my friend Ann, there's only one Thai person in the audience, an elderly woman with a beautiful hat. She wants to go back to Thailand to ordain as a Buddhist nun, but she is afraid.

Click here to see Making of Citizen Juling  Part 1