Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mini-fest showcases films set in southern Thailand

Hard-core Southeast Asian film enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice this weekend in Bangkok. Not only is the Lav Diaz retrospective continuing, there's a mix of old classics and contemporary Thai features being shown at Paragon Cineplex in "Lae Nung … Long Tai", featuring 10 films made in southern Thailand.

Oldies include 1969's Koh Sawad Hat Sawan (เกาะสวาทหาดสวรรค์, Paradise Island, 1972's Choo (ชู้, The Adulterer) and Euthana Mukdasanit's 1985 classic Butterfly and Flowers (ผีเสื้อและดอกไม้, Peesua lae dokma).

Even among the newer films, there are rarely shown rarities, like Nonzee Nimibutr's sweet 2003 drama OK Baytong. It hit the festival circuit for about a year and was never heard from again, thanks to no English-friendly DVD release.

There is also the historical disaster drama Talumphuk, which I didn't see when it was in cinemas in 2002. And there's a chance to revisit The Tin Mine (มหา'ลัย เหมืองแร่, Maha'lai muang rae), Jira Maligool's lush 2005 historical drama that won awards but washed out at the box office.

How about Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Invisible Waves? Anyone? Well, I liked it.

And, do you want to see the big-screen debut of star Ananda Everingham? It's Anda Gap Fah Sai (อันดากับฟ้าใส, Anda and Fah Sai), a 1997 coming-of-age romantic drama.

Here's the complete schedule:

Friday, August 7
  • 17.00, Koh Sawad Hat Sawan (Paradise Island) – This 1969 musical romantic romp stars Sombat Methanee and Aranya Namwong as rival rich-kid coconut plantation farmers. It was shot on Koh Samui long before the arrival of spa resorts, boutique hotels, beer bars and hypermarket chains.
  • 20.00, Peesua Lae Dokmai (Butterfly and Flowers) – Directed by Euthana Mukdasanit, this 1985 movie is considered a classic and reflects life in a peaceful Buddhist-Muslim society in a small border town.

Saturday, August 8
  • 12.15, Choo (The Adulterer) – This 1972 drama by Piak Poster is about a hermit fisherman (Manop Assawathep) rescuing a young woman and then getting involved in a love triangle. Krung Srivilai also stars.
  • 15.00, Yuwachon Taharn Pid Term Pai Rob (Boys Will Be Boys) – Based on a true story of Thai youngsters who were recruited by the Thai military in World War II, Euthana Mukdasanit’s 2000 drama looks at what happened when the Japanese army invaded Chumphon.
  • 17.30, OK Baytong – Nonzee Nimibutr’s 2003 sometimes comic drama tells the story of a young man who leaves the monkhood for the first time since childhood to take care of his Muslim niece in a town on the Malaysian border after his sister is killed in a terrorist bombing.
  • 20.00 Anda Kab Fah Sai (Anda and Fah Sai) – Ananda Everingham made his big-screen debut in this coming-of-age romantic drama as a young diver in the Andaman. Sinjai Plengpanich and Pongpat Wachirabunjong also star.

Sunday, August 9
  • 12.15, Talumphuk – This 2002 disaster drama is set in Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1962 when Tropical Storm Harriet struck, destroying all but five houses in a village of 4,000 in Laem Talumphuk..
  • 15.00, Maha’lai Muang Rae (The Tin Mine) – Based on the memoirs of writer Archin Panjabhan, Jira Malikool’s historical drama is about a young engineering student who leaves university to work in a tin mine in the Phuket jungle in the 1950s.
  • 17.30, Kam Pipaksa Khong Mahasamut (Invisible Waves) – Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s wryly comic 2006 thriller is about a Japanese chef (Tadanobu Asano) who flees from Macau to Phuket after committing a murder.
  • 20.00 Wonderful Town - Indie director Aditya Assarat’s award-winning, critically acclaimed romantic drama is set in isolated Takua Pha, Phang Nga, where scars of the tsunami still linger.

The event is organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Film Archive and the Thai Film Foundation. Admission is free. Pick up your ticket either at the cinema or the Living Gallery in Area 2 on Siam Paragon’s third floor one hour before showtime. Call ( 080) 557 9709, (081) 697 5976, and (02) 800 2716.

(Cross-published at Bangkok Cinema Scene)

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