Prince Sanbassart (Prince Thongthamthawanwong) - The Father of Thai Filmmaking.

Prince Sanbassart was born on October 17, 1857. He was the son of King Rama IV with Chaochom Marnda Sungwal. Since he was young, Prince Sanbassart had always been interested in mechanic. Thus, he was one of the first Thais to learn of new inventions. His favorite western innovation of all was cinema.

In 1896 Prince Sanbassart followed King Rama V to Singapore. It was there that he first saw his first movie. After that he devoted his time to cinema development. Unfortunately, he did not have an opportunity to make a film. A year later Prince Sanbassart followed King Chulalongkorn to Europe. It was there that he bought a cinematograph, which could both shoot and project films back to Thailand. Then Prince Sanbassart started making films seriously. His films included everything from short documentaries in and out of the Royal Palace to the more historical record of King Chulalongkorn's daily activities.

Prince Sanbassart was the first and the only Thai filmmaker at that period. He was also the first person to rent out films. He rented out most of his films to theatres. Sometimes he set up a public screening in his Palace, He showed his films annually in a fair at Wat Benjamabopitr. Prince Sanbassart stopped making film later on when there were a lot more film makers. His health also degenerated until he became paralyzed.

Prince Sanbassart died on April 16, 1919. He was 62 years old.

Translated by Mingmongkol Sonakul

Edited by Robert Himes

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