Exploring bold new works from filmmakers around the world, the 52nd New Directors/New Films, our annual festival co-presented with the Museum of Modern Art, officially kicks off on March 29. Ahead of the festival, get to know the filmmakers who speak to the present and anticipate the future of cinema.

Sorayos Prapapan, director of Arnold Is a Model Student, shares a few brief words on his influences, what he’d be doing if it weren’t filmmaking, and more. Join Prapapan in person for Q&As on April 8 & 9.

What made you first want to be a director?
Sorayos Prapapan: I was assuming that maybe I could be one.

Was there a film or director you were inspired by or continue to be inspired by?
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jafar Panahi, Roy Andersson, Ulrich Seidl, Mia Hansen-Løve, and many more.

In your own words, tell us about your film. What should audiences know?
It’s a fiction based on how I grew up and what’s really happened in Thailand recently.

What does it mean to you to show your film at New Directors/New Films?
I’m very happy. 

What was the biggest lesson you learned during the making of your film?
Money can solve many problems but not all.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s okay to fail.

What else do you enjoy doing outside of filmmaking?
Growing weed.

What’s a film you saw recently that you enjoyed?
Alcarràs directed by Carla Simón.

Taking a deceptively comic approach to contemporary social and political realities in his native Thailand, debut filmmaker Sorayos Prapapan has fashioned an original and gripping vision set in the rigid, cutthroat environment of high school. As the title promises, senior student Arnold excels at his studies and is a frontrunner for education scholarships and accolades. Yet after returning from studying abroad in the United States, he begins to question the meaning and authoritarian practices of school itself, and his growing awareness then makes him ripe for temptation into an underground cheating ring. Based in part on the Bad Student movement in Thailand, which saw high schoolers taking a stand against physical punishment, dress codes, and other autocratic practices, Prapapan’s movie presents a hard, highly entertaining look at the options open to young people in a dictatorial world.

Sorayos Prapapan’s Arnold Is a Model Student screens on April 8 and 9 with filmmaker Q&As. New Directors/New Films takes place March 29-April 9. Explore the lineup and get tickets, including a discounted 5-Film Package.