The Jakarata film festival screened Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's take on the moody yakuza drama, Last Life in the Universe as well as a Singaporean schoolboy comedy, I Not Stupid.
It was a chance for filmmakers from neighboring Southeast Asian countries to meet and greet, according to the Jakarta Post.
"Southeast Asia is close in terms of each other, we are next to each other but never see each other's films," said Thai film activist Chalida Uabumrungjit.
She met with Singaporean director Yuni Hadi and Malaysian director Amir Muhammad at the Kuching Film Festival in 2001, and they decided to establish S-Express, a network of filmmakers who concentrate on short films.
"We want to encourage people to do it. The independent film scene has improved. At the Rotterdam Film Festival next year, there will be a new segment called Southeast Asian Eyes. That is a good opportunity for filmmakers," Chalida said.
In terms of quality, Chalida said the region's filmmakers were now more technically savvy.
"The content is quite diverse, but since there has only been Hollywood and Chinese films, short films still tend to be like those. Everybody, like, wants to be Wong Kar-wai. But there are also filmmakers who want to do something else, an experimental semi documentary," she said of Thailand's short film scene.
Chalida said that Indonesian films were more political in content compared to those in her homeland.
"Most Thai films are about personal cute stuff."
(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)