Saturday, October 22, 2005

Review: Tsunami Digital Short Films - Program 2

  • Premiered at the World Film Festival of Bangkok on October 22, 2005.

Thirteen short films were made in a project funded by the Culture Ministry's Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, which gave filmmakers about US$4,800 and five days to make a film somewhere in the area of Thailand that was hit by the tsunami on December 26, 2004. The films were premiered as a package at the Third World Film Festival of Bangkok, and screened in two parts. The first part is reviewed here. Here the films that were shown in the second program.

Forget It, directed by Somkid Thamniamdi

This program was more varied in styles and moods than the first program. It started with Forget It, a stop-motion clay animated film. It features a handsome, big-chinned man with big hair and an important job that forces him to leave his home and his incredibly shaped wife and spend his days working and earning money. All too late, he realizes what he's leaving at home everyday.

World Priceless Day, directed by Lek Manont

A guy who lost his friends and everything he owned in the tsunami. All he has is sand in the pockets of his cut-off Dickies trousers. But he wants to do something for his friends. He makes a crown of leaves and vines to present to them somehow. In his grief, he discovers that people are still living: Motorcycle Man, T-shirt Man, Food Man, Airplane Man. He gets transport, new clothes, food and a plane ride to Bangkok. Then he realizes he's still wearing the crown of leaves he made for his friends.

Smiles of the Fifth Night, directed by Sonthaya Subyen

"Pebbles cannot be tamed to the end they will look at us with a calm and very clear eye" - Zbigniew Herbert.

This film mixes images and text. After that opening flash of text, it switches to images, with a text crawl of actually letters from survivors of the tsunami and well-wishers.

It's pretty haunting, showing vast mudflats, stripped bare. A rice barge is left high and dry. But it's also beautiful, with images of life in the mangroves.

The Helping Hand, directed by Folke Ryden

This is a documentary by Swedish filmmaker Folke Ryden, focusing on a young Thai man, Mard Mankala, who was a hotel manager on Koh Phi Phi, which was leveled by the tsunami. Mard was able to warn his staff and guests to get to safety -- one of the success stories of the tsunami. But he lost everything.

However, he turned to helping out in the relief effort, as did others. Thousands of Swedes visit Thailand each year, enough to make a small city, and the tsunami counted as probably the biggest disaster for Sweden since World War II.

The documentary footage is from right after the tsunami, showing the devastation and the recovery of bodies.

Lie Beneath, directed by Margaret Bong Chew Jen

A little Malaysian boy returns to his hometown and makes up a story about his parents being killed in the tsunami to win the attention of his friend.

Tits & Bum, directed by Santi Taepanich

Here's a concept that should be expanded on: A parody of the karaoke videos.

If you've been in Asia, you know what I'm talking about. A sexy woman in a bikini or lingerie frolics on the beach or in the bedroom while the words to the song are scrolled at the bottom of the screen.

The film switches back and forth from parody to a behind-the-scenes mockumentary of the making of karaoke video, featuring a model who refuses to open her legs too wide and a transsexual stand-in for the model.

There's further parody with a muscle-bound guy flexing for the camera as the karaoke words go by, which is something you never see. Karaoke videos always have beautiful women.

By the director of Crying Tigers, this was the funniest, most entertaining of the shorts. It had the audience in stitches.

Tune In, directed by Pimpaka Towira

A young woman drives around Phuket, trying to find something. She stops and asks for directions many times. She plays with the radio, trying to find the station. Finally, she gets to the end of the road. Good thing she has a four-wheel drive. It seems she finds what she was looking for.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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