Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cannes '09: Festival notes part 2

Dear GTH
GMM Tai Hub has a booth at the Marche du Film. Among the upcoming titles they are pushing is Dear Galileo, a story of teenager girls who want to travel to Europe by Nithiwat Tharatorn, one of the "Fan Chan six" whose solo debut was 2007's Seasons Change. The stars are Chutima Theepanart (Seasons Change, Hormones) and Jarinporn Joonkiati. Ray MacDonald also fits in there somewhere. Bangkok 1080 has a synopsis and lots of enticing images. Oh, and I've warmed up to the English title for GTH's 5 Phraeng, the portmanteau follow-up to 4Bia (See Phraeng). They are trying to establish an international brand, like Final Destination or Scary Movie. I get that. So Phobia 2 will have to do.

Brillante's choices
The Hollywood Reporter has a Q&A with Brillante Mendoza, in which the archly indie Filipino director says that because his films are selected by major film festivals, "the government doesn't have a choice if they don't like my films". His new film Kinatay is playing in the main Palme d'Or competition, the second consecutive year for him after last year's Serbis. Because his movie has premiered at Cannes, it means "the people back home in the Philippines don't have a choice except to watch your film ... They watch your film because it was watched by a first world country." He also reveals his plans to bring his movies to the right audiences in the Philippines. Mendoza says he assiduously shuns the "mainstream" in the his home country, and says he refuses to talk to entertainment writers or TV personalities "because sometimes they don't know what I'm doing". He also does gardening as a way to "destress".

Slashing Kinatay
What was that Brillante Mendoza was saying about his films getting good reviews? Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert, who's blogging from Cannes, absolutely trashes Mendoza's Kinatay. "Here is a film that forces me to apologize to Vincent Gallo for calling The Brown Bunny the worst film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival," says Ebert in blasting Mendoza's "idea". Wow. Well, Serbis was pretty polarizing too, but I liked it. Kinatay has its official screening today, so I expect there will be more opinion to chew on in the next day or so. Update: Screen Daily is much more positive about the film's prospects.

From Cambodia to Cannes
The first buyer from a Cambodian film company at Cannes has left the building, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Marian Arthur, an American film executive now living in Cambodia represented Kmy Films. It's a tough business, showing movies in Cambodia. "There are almost no 35mm projectors, there are no multiplexes at all, and the Hollywood majors do not distribute there, though this week I had meetings with Universal," she says. "Piracy, with masters coming from Malaysia, is also a problem." It's a short but informative article.

Singing Karaoke
Twitch has a trailer and synopsis for Karaoke, the Malaysian film that's playing during the Director's Fortnight. It's directed by Chris Chong. "I’ve heard those in the know compare Chong’s work to both Jia Zhangke and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, so you know you’re looking at something pretty special," says Twitch's Todd Brown. Chong's upcoming project, The Tour, won the Produire au Sud Bangkok workshop at last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok and was selected for Rotterdam's CineMart earlier this year.

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