Wandee Sae-hong pays homage June 16, 2006, at a spirit house in front of her home in Baan Nam Kem to victims of the 2004 tsunami that hit her village in southern Thailand. Wandee objected to the making of a BBC/HBO miniseries about the tsunami in her village, which lost about half its 5,000 residents in the disaster. The two-part miniseries is slated to air later this year on BBC2 and HBO. (AP Photo /Sakchai Lalit)
Tsunami miniseries sets off debate (AP)
By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 29, 4:50 PM ET
KHAO LAK, Thailand - Initially, Boonlue Mongkhol objected to his village being used for a TV miniseries about the 2004 tsunami. He lost his loved ones in the disaster and didn't want to relive the tragedy.
But when the British Broadcasting Corp. advertised for extras, the 38-year-old businessman put aside his personal feelings and spent five days portraying a corpse and a body collector — earning $13 a day.
"My father, niece and nephew died there," said Boonlue, who also lost his house, seafood restaurant and mini market when the massive waves hit Khao Lak on Dec. 26, 2004. "I didn't want to do it but there is no other way to earn money."
The filming of "Aftermath" — a two-part miniseries produced by the BBC and HBO, shot along Thailand's tsunami-battered coast — has set off a debate over the merits of bringing the tragedy to the screen so soon after the disaster.
Supporters say it's an important story, touching on universal themes of hope and loss, while many survivors say reviving the tsunami has hit them with more heartache.
Similar debates among survivors have played out in the United States with "United 93," the first big-screen treatment of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and in Australia when there was talk of making a movie about the 2002 Bali bombings, the victims of which were mainly Australians.
"You are exacerbating the healing process," said Anie Kalayjian, whose non-governmental Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention has provided counseling to survivors of the tsunami and last year's Pakistan earthquake.
"On some level, they need to distance themselves from the devastating impact of the event to heal," she said. "Post-trauma means the trauma has to end and you need a certain distance before you can process your feelings and make meaning and sense out of the unimaginable."
Billed as a compelling story of survival and courage, the two-part series to be shown on HBO and BBC Two later this year follows eight characters in the aftermath of the tsunami including a young couple searching for their child, an Englishwoman whose husband and son are missing, and a Thai man who lost his family and village.