Saturday, October 7, 2006

Thai films at the 4th World Film Festival of Bangkok

Well, it's time once again for the World Film Festival of Bangkok, this year being the fourth, making it the 4th World Film Festival.

As far as Thai films this year, the festival's directors, the Silakong brothers, have some obscure choices. They are all independent films, and are spread out throughout the festival's program, a couple in the Asian Contemporary, a documentary and some short films.

Similar to last year, the festival is offering a short-film package focused on a certain subject. Last year it was the Tsunami Digital Short Films. This year it's the Reconciliation Short Films, put together by the Office of Contemporary Arts and Culture in a bid to shed positive light on Buddhist-Muslim relations.

One of the documentaries is Weirdrosopher, the Thai answer to Dogtown and Z Boys. The skateboarding documentary is directed by Nontawat Numbenchapol and Rthit Phannikul, who received backing from director Jira Maligool.

Feature films are Silence Will Speak by Punlop Horharin, which depicts the daily life of one Bangkokian; Sanctuary Rhapsody by Supucksarun Suwonnapra-prad, about a young woman who’s trying to understand men; and Patana Jirawong's Sugarless about a man and a woman with very different personalities who are both looking for love.

"I wouldn't say the films selected for this year’s festival are the best we could find,” festival deputy director Dusit Silakong was quoted as saying in The Nation. "Thai independent movie productions still lack character and profoundness in dialogue. Most filmmakers in Thailand are too heavily influenced by European films, and their products are not the best items to show a Thai way of storytelling. Also, the subject matter in the films are of a pretty dull aspect of Thai society. They typically depict sex, drugs or relationships between humans, unlike in Europe or America where there are more social aspects to explore. This festival only serves as a platform for them to broadcast their works, which we hope would encourage more creativity and out-of-the-box thinking."

Other films in the festival, running from October 11 to 23, is The Banquet. It's the opening film. The closer is The Battleship Potemkin, with the Pet Shop Boys score.

An interesting film is Tsai Ming-Liang's I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, which was among the films produced for the New Crowned Hope Project celebrating Mozart's 250th. Another film made for the same project, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and Century, is not screening at the World Film Festival, with the speculation being that maybe the Bangkok International Film Festival might actually be wanting to show it.

The festival is organized by The Nation and is the ugly stepchild of the bigger, nastier Bangkok International Film Festival. Nonetheless, the Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee had some nice things to say about it in today's Real Time section. (Full disclosure: a short film written by Kong is screening in the Reconciliation Short Films program.)

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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