Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pen Ek's Invisible Waves

No Thai films at this year's Berlin Film Festival. However, there was some activity at a sidebar film market, reports IndieWire. Palm Pictures will release Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Invisible Waves, which is due out sometime later this year.

Produced by Fortissimo Films, along with CineAsia and Five Star, this is the followup to Last Life in the Universe. It's another collaboration with writer Prabda Yoon, will again feature the lenswork of Christopher Doyle and will have Japan's Tadanobu Asano (Last Life, Zatochi, Ichi the Killer) in the cast, with Korea's Gang Hye Jung (Old Boy) starring opposite, according to Twitch.

Not much else on what the film is about, though Pen-Ek goes on at length about the state of the Thai film industry and why he's going for a more pan-Asian flavor in this interview by Aditya Assarat:.

AA: What do you think of the present Thai film industry?

PR: Well, a lot of films are going to go bust. It's the same in every industry, film or real estate or what not.

AA: So we're in a film bubble economy?

PR: Yes. It's like real estate. The craze is pushing everything out of proportion. People are calling this the golden age of Thai film and its bullshit. A few years ago people would call me up to give me money to make films and I would ask them, "well what do you do?" and they would be like the owner of a sausage factory. And why would they want to make films? They see the big films that make money but they don't hear of the other hundred that lose money. So first I tell them well you're calling the wrong guy. Go do some research first. But I never take their money because they don't have any idea what they're getting in to. That's not business - it's just gambling. They're throwing money at one racehorse and wait to see if it hits. And I think that's very destructive for the industry as a whole.

AA: Most of our films lose money. How do we fix the system? How do we improve our industry?

PR: Easy. But like everything else in Thailand, nobody will be able to do it. If you look at our industry, every position, from directors to actors all the way down to grips and coffee boys and everybody, we only have the personnel to make 10 films a year [in 2003 Thailand produced approximately 50 feature films]. If we take these people and make just 10 films a year, they'll be of a certain quality, and maybe three or four will be outstanding. But the standard will improve, commercially and artistically. Maybe if we're really greedy, we can squeeze 20 films out of these people. And I'm not only talking about the production people - I'm talking about the marketing, sales, all those people who must understand the business of movies. I think if we can stick to 10 quality films a year that should be our goal. But like anything, the success of the film industry doesn't rely only on the producers but also the audience. We first have to build up faith in our work. We have to build faith in the audience, that they can pay money for our products and not come out of the theater disappointed. The other problem is that we don't yet know who we are. Thai films cannot figure out their own identity yet.

AA: So what path should we take?

PR: I'm not sure either. But I always say films like Mekhong Full Moon Party or Fan Chan or Monrak, these films should not be labeled as outstanding films. If we really had a healthy industry, these three films would be considered standard films. Good films but not these wonderful achievements that people make them out to be. But currently these films are singled out for praise. Why? Not because the filmmakers are any better but because they put more care and thought and discipline to the job at hand. These are the kinds of commercial films that should be our base. The Thai industry doesn't need people like me or Joe, it needs people to make quality commercial films.

AA: Yes, I think that there will always be Thai art-house films. I don't think Pen-ek or Apichatpong will disappear because they represent a distinct voice. The danger lies in our commercial side because those films are competing directly with Hollywood movies.

PR: I have a secret hope that Thai films will go back to a time when we made 10 quality films a year. Hub-Ho-Hin is a company that's making quality commercial films. Yuthlert [Sippapak (February, Buppha Rahtree)] is making quality commercial films. It's my hope that the Thai industry will have a few more of these people who know what they're doing, care about what they're doing. In the old days, in the 70s, we had a good period where people like Than Mui [Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol], Cherd Songsri, Piak Poster, Manop Udomdej, were all making interesting auteur films - similar to the 70s in America. And then it disappeared. I hope that we can get back to that kind of environment again with movies like Mekhong, Fan Chan, Monrak as our standard films.

AA: And lastly, getting back to your new film, Invisible Waves, I'm wondering how you're going to continue to explore delicate emotions within the confines of the film noir genre.

PR: Yeah, I'm wondering that too.

Invisible Waves has been tapped for "presentation" along with 27 other working titles at the upcoming Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum to be held March 22-24 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, according to Kung Fu Cult Cinema.

Other films vying for funding at HAF include The Coffin, by Beautiful Boxer's Ekachai Uekrongtham (produced by Pantham Thongsang) and The Tin Mine (Meung Rae), by Jira Maligool (Mekhong Full Moon Party). There's been some discussion about Jira's film on the Spotlight on Thai Cinema.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.