Filmatique | Pop Aye on Filmatique

Pop Aye

// Presented as part of Filmatique's Ecologies Series //

Spotlight on Pop Aye  




Kirsten Tan / 2016, Guanajuato, Netia Off Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema, Palm Springs, QCinema International Film Festival, Rotterdam, Sundance, Sydney, Taipei, Zagreb, Zurich / 104'


Thana is a middle-aged architect living in Bangkok. While professionally successful, he is unhappy with his life. After encountering an elephant one night while wandering the city, Thana decides to embark toward Isan, his childhood home in Thailand's idyllic north. He brings Pop Aye, the elephant, with him on a journey that intersects with various characters and culminates in a form of companionship both deep and unexpected.


Shot largely with non-professional actors and gesturing toward realms of perception beyond the human, Pop Aye portrays in endearing detail the bond between a man and an elephant. Singaporean filmmaker Kirsten Tan's first feature premiered at Sundance, where it won the Screenwriting Award for World Cinema - Dramatic; Rotterdam, where it won the Big Screen Award; Nettia Off Camera, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize; and Zurich, where it won Best International Feature Film.



"A man, an elephant, and a charming love story… Kirsten Tan's feature debut is a trip worth taking… Elephants, with their imposing size and gentle nature, are among the most cinematic of all animals. Popeye is no exception: We first see him donning elaborate finery that attracts a small crowd of onlookers; a closer look reveals freckle-like light spots on his trunk. Whatever look Thana gives him seems to be reflected back at the man"

- Michael Nordine, Film Review, Indiewire