'Adirake' — Photo courtesy of Andinh Ha

In a story pulled from international headlines, Adirake follows a young boy as he searches for a mythical white elephant that his mother promised would appear. The child lost his parents in the 2005 tsunami and now walks around holding on to those fateful words from his mother.

The 6-minute film, which is part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Fallout series, resonates mostly for its often-breathtaking cinematography. Shot in Thailand, the landscapes pictured in the short film are beautiful, with interesting vantage points and natural scenes of serenity and wonder.

Filmmakers Tati Barrantes and Andinh Ha are two names to watch on the festival circuit (it’s rather impressive this is a student film). With Adirake, they have created a simple story told in such a way that that it forces us to listen. Adirake (Panthakarn Rampan) is able to personalize the 2005 tsunami, an event that’s difficult to understand and comprehend, even seven years after the fact. By presenting one boy’s search for meaning (closure?), we are provided an entry point into the natural disaster and its wake of destruction. This is not global filmmaking or a statistics story. It’s a visceral coming-of-age tale built around a much larger catastrophe.

In a very basic sense, it mimics Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, the similarly plotted movie about a young boy trying to cope with the loss of his father on Sept. 11. Adirake is able to accomplish quite a lot in just a few minutes.

By John Soltes / Publisher /

  • Click here for more information on Adirake’s showtimes at the Tribeca Film Festival.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at, among other publications. E-mail him at

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