Story and photos by Lekha J. Shankar
The inaugural World Comedy Film Festival has come and gone. There were good, bad, funny, un-funny films. There were sparse audiences . But there was much action outside the movie screenings -- parties, cruises, stand-up shows, beach-trips. All the delegates agreed that the Land of Smiles was unbeatable! If the festival’s aim was to give a big boost to the shaky image of the country and the battered tourism industry, after the recent political problems, it did succeed.
Where it could have improved was have more of an interaction with members of the Thai film industry, which would have proved beneficial to both the local and foreign film-folk. Here’s what the foreign film artistes had to say:
Singaporean Superstar Fann Wong, co-star of The Wedding Game with her fiancé Christopher Lee. The film by Ekachai Uekrongtham won the top prize at the festival.
Bangkok is very different from Singapore. I love to come here, to shop, to relax, to unwind -- it’s such a wonderful city! Christopher and I come here often, but this is the first time we have come with a film. I’m happy I met at least one Thai movie star ['Gof' Akara Amarttayakul], but would have liked to meet more."
American director Ari Gold, whose Adventures of Power was screened at more than 20 festivals around the world.
I’ve been to festivals with my film and Bangkok is very different. I’m disappointed I could not interact with my audience, and also with more Thai film folk, which is what’s most important for a filmmaker at foreign festivals. But I love the country! Phuket is so different than when I went there 10 years back. The hotels are outstanding!"
I’m also stunned by the film facilities and plan to convert my film from digi-beta to 35mm here. The service in studios like Kantana is so impressive.”
American actress Shosannah Stern, star of Adventures of Power.
I went to Chiangmai, which was beautiful! I love Thai food, which is so much better, here than in the US ! I wish I had met some Thai actresses -- I hear they are beautiful.”
Singaporean director Jack Neo, who screened three of his films in a retrospective.
The theatres and facilities in Bangkok are excellent, but I’m disappointed the audiences are so small. I do my post-production work here, and after this trip, I’m even more amazed by the facilities!"
Australian director Murray Fahey, winner of Best Short Film for The Code.
This is my first visit to Thailand and I simply love it! I wish I could have done a stand-up show with Thai comedians, like I did at the Berlin Film Festival, which was a great experience.”
Scottish director David Newbigging, maker of the short film Eyes on the Street.
This is so far from home, and our first visit to Asia. We love the heat, the food, the people, and I wish we didn’t have to go back. We also wish we had met more people from the Thai film industry, as we know nothing about Thai cinema.”
Indonesian producer Muslich Widjaya of Cinlok.
“My director and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. We met only one Thai actor, but I wish we could have met more Thai film people so that we could know more about the Thai film industry.”
Malaysian actor-directors Hans Isaac and Afdlin Shauki, whose Wash was in competition.
We always come to Bangkok for our post-production work, but it was on this trip, that we realised how advanced, the film facilities are, and how many options we have! Thailand seems far ahead of Malaysia in the film area. We met a very pleasant Thai actor, but we would have liked to meet more Thai film folk, as we could possibly do a co-production.”
(Cross-published at The Nation Weblog)