Saturday, June 27, 2009

More on Pen-ek and art films

As his latest film Nymph looms closer to the July 1 release in Thailand and September's North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Pen-ek Ratanaruang is giving interviews to major media outlets. Among them is The Wall Street Journal.

Pen-ek talks to writer Dean Napolitano about what Nymph is about, how the story developed, its themes, his evolution as a director and how his films are received. Here's a snip:

What is your response to some critics who say you make art-house films primarily for foreign audiences?

A reaction I get in Thailand is that people don't understand my films. I don't think the world is divided into foreign and domestic audiences -- I think the world is divided into taste. I find that the people who like my films are the same people who like the films I watch, who like the books I read and who like the music I listen to. I have a very faithful and loyal audience in Thailand.

But as Pen-ek reflected in another recent statement, that loyal audience is likely shrinking.

Looking at the recent box-office performance of Thai films against the Hollywood blockbusters, it's hard to be optimistic that the likes of Nymph or even Mum Jokmok's Wongkamlao will make much of a dent in the dumb explosive insanity that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Perhaps it's a cycle we're going through. But can filmmakers like Pen-ek ride it out until the wheel comes back around and favors the types of films he makes? Or maybe he'll be the one to change?

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