Hongsa's Schoolbag, directed by Supamok Silarak, won first prize. In following Hongsa, an 11-year-old Mon boy, as he attends a special multilingual school for migrant workers' children, the film encapsulates the struggles Mon face in Thailand -- the marginalization, and constant living in fear of being hassled by the police (or possibly bullying, money-grubbing fake police).
Set in the coastal community of Mahachai, home to shrimp-packing plants, Hongsa is warned by his mother to be careful of Thai children. But schoolmates aren't such a bad lot -- Hongsa meets some downright friendly kids, even if they do razz him for not knowing the words to a song about His Majesty the King.
The runner-up prize went to Way to Blue, by Supawadde Sripatum, a film about film student struggling to come up with an ending to her film.
There were 12 entries in all. Here's the remainder:
- The Honeymoon Suite, directed by Pakpoom Treechairusmee - A man finds himself in the honeymoon suite with his new wife, who was just introduced to him two months before in an arranged marriage.
- I'll C You Soon 2, directed by Pirachut Chokpradub - A man tried to bring a birthday present to his girlfriend.
- Transition, directed by Vinai Tachvirat and Al Kay - A documentary about transgender women, including interviews in San Francisco's Tenderloin.
- Made in Heaven, directed by Amorn Harinnitisuk - Tragic romance for a man who falls in love when he becomes afflicted with a terrible disease.
- Help Me! Help Me!, directed by Dissapong Wong-aram and Chakkanat Pengudom - The world has many problems.
- Small Stuff, directed by Chonlatee Aitzaratanazit and Pathompong Govitsittinun - Made for the Please Peace Project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Symbol, this is about the secret to two buddies.
- Phob, directed by Seri Lachonnabot - Everyone tries to convince Phob that she's a ghost.
- La Vie En Rose, directed by Arpapun Phungsirisoontorn - An experimental work that explores the symbolism of roses and their representation of feminine beauty.
- The Hostel Wall, directed Siriya Jariyapirat - A man who lives in Chinatown finds a poster of his favorite Chinese silent film star.
- Croc, directed by Saravuth Intaraporn - A boy sees a monster, but can't convince the other townspeople that it's real.
- Talejai, directed by Sukanlaya Pakang - A man has to make up his mind.
The films were screened in the lobby of Paragon Cineplex, in a home-theatre box, provided by festival sponsor Pioneer. I managed to only see two -- the top prizewinner Honga's Schoolbag, which was quite remarkable, and The Hostel Wall.