Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bangkok Experimental Film Festival: The more things change …

The 5th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (BEFF 5) will be held March 25 to 30 at Esplanade Cineplex in Bangkok, and several other venues around the city.

The festival is a a co-production by Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Kick the Machine, the Thai Film Foundation and Project 304, an independent arts organization.

This year's theme is "The more things change …", exploring the cycles - natural, spiritual, political and economic – that shape life in the 21st century. Curator David Teh says:

Experimental film can highlight the connections between the ordinary and the extraordinary, between public and private, between everyday life and the big picture of society."

BEFF 5 comes amid a debate about Thailand's cinema culture. In an article in Time magazine last year, the Ministry of Culture's Surveillance Center watchdog Ladda Tangsupachai was quoted as saying Thai audiences are "uneducated", suggesting that they were only interested in lightweight comedy.

BEFF 5 organizers counter that this view "contradicts the breadth and depth of Thai screen culture, which wins awards and acclaim worldwide – not just in advertising and mainstream film, but also in independent and non-commercial fields."

BEFF 5 seeks to tap the wealth of experimental screen culture produced in Thailand, and present it to a wider audience in Bangkok and other Thai cities, as well as overseas. Past BEFF programs have toured to the US, Europe, Singapore and Australia.

In addition to Esplanade Cineplex, other venues will be the Alliance Francaise, Goethe-Institut, Gallery VER and Jim Thompson House.

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