Sunday, April 25, 2010

Phuket Film Festival bags Friday Killers as closing film

The second edition of the Phuket Film Festival will close with a bang with the world premiere of Friday Killers, the first in director Yuthlert Sippapak's planned trilogy of hitman dramas.

Friday Killers (มือปืน ดาวพระศุกร์, Meu Puen Dao Prasook or Venus Hitman) is a drama starring actress Ploy Jindachote and veteran comedian Thep Po-ngam. It's the first in a trilogy that Yuthlert is producing and directing for release by Phranakorn Film, all with well-known comics paired up with leading ladies. Others due to come are Saturday Killers (มือปืน ดาวพระเสาร์) with Choosak "Nong Cha Cha Cha" Iamsuk and Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story star Cris Horwang and Sunday Killers (มือปืนพระอาทิตย์) with Kotee Aramboy and "May" Pitchanart Sakhakorn.

Here's the synopsis for Friday Killers:

Friday Killers is the story of Pae Uzi (comedian Suthep Pho-ngam) aka “The Eagle of Chantaburi”, a professional hitman who was just set free from prison. After his release, he learns for the first time he has a daughter Dao (Ploy Jindachote – actress played lead role with William Hurt and Cary Elwes in the supernatural thriller Shadows). The tables are turned on Pae when his daughter tries to kill him because she thinks that he killed the only father that she knew.

The trilogy marks a return to the hitman genre for Yuthlert, a prolific genre-hopping filmmaker who made his debut with 2000's comedy-action-drama Killer Tattoo, which also starred Thep as a gunman.

The Phuket Film Festival's calendar of events (PDF) is firming up.

The closing day on June 13 will also see the Phuket premiere of Sawasdee Bangkok (สวัสดีบางกอก). Premiered last year in Toronto and shown at several other festivals, this is the abbreviated four-segment version of the nine-part omnibus produced by the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS or TV Thai). It comprises the films by Wisit Sasanatieng, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee and Aditya Assarat.

Another Thai highlight will be a tribute and retrospective of the work of Kom Akadej (คมน์ อรรฆเดช), an actor and director who made a lot of action films in the 1980s, including many Hong Kong co-productions. He gave action director Panna Rittikrai his start in the industry. A past president of the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand, Kom Akadej is also the cinema mogul of southern Thailand, the owner of the Coliseum chain of multiplexes. Days 2 and 3 of the festival on June 5 and 6 will be dedicated to Khun Kom, with his movies being screened for free all day from noon.

Of course, the festival's venue this year is the Coliseum Paradise Multiplex in Phuket Town. It's the island's first and only facility with 3D projection.

First held in 2007, the second edition of the Phuket Film Festival was to have taken place a year ago after a hiatus in 2008. But festival organizer Scott Rosenberg pulled the plug because of a scheduling conflict with the planned Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and a heavy security presence to counter possible protests. Heartbreakingly, he was perhaps too hasty, because 15 minutes after he sent his cancellation e-mail, the government announced it was postponing the ASEAN meeting. But it was too late to call back the mass e-mails and tell everyone it was a false alarm.

This year, Thailand's political situation is as unstable and insecure as ever. The red-shirt anti-government protesters are keeping parts of Bangkok locked down, but there's no foreseen threat to Phuket, which can be reached by direct flights from many countries and transfers from Bangkok's main international airport.

Much of this year's Phuket Film Festival line-up is the same as last year's, with many guests who were to have come in 2009 finally making their way to the Pearl of the Andaman.

Director Gus Van Sant will be on hand to go surfing. He's the guest of honor for the fest's Alternative Lifestyle night on June 9 when Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic Milk, My Private Idaho and shorts Ajumma Krazy and Boy Meets Boy will be shown.

Also invited back is director Darnell Martin, whose Cadillac Records will screen. The movie, starring Adrien Brody, is about Leonard Chess, head of Chicago's pioneering blues-and-R&B label Chess Records. Beyonce is featured as Etta James.

Van Sant and Martin are also expected to take part in the festival's new "Meet the Directors Series" with screenings and parties at The Yamu resort at Cape Yamu.

Also, a year later, the Thai-Hollywood romantic drama Bitter/Sweet will finally make its Thai premiere. Produced by Urs Brunner and Jon Karas and directed by Jeff Hare, the romance stars Kip Pardue as an American coffee buyer who locks horns with a spirited young Thai woman (Art of the Devil's Mamee Nakprasit) on a coffee plantation in southern Thailand's Krabi province. James Brolin, Spencer Garrett and Akara Amartyakul and Tong Pakaramai are among the mixed cast of Hollywood and Thai players. Singer Tata Young makes an appearance. Shot in Thailand in 2008, Bitter/Sweet won awards at last year's WorldFest in Houston and has appeared in many other festivals.

The Phuket fest opens on June 4 with Harishchandrachi Factory, the debut by Paresh Mokashi and India's submission to the Oscars for best foreign-language film. The comedy-drama is about Raja Harishchandra, who made India's first feature-length silent film in 1913. Mokashi is expected to be in attendance.

The opener goes in line with the festival's Spotlight on India, which also includes 2009's Chadni Chowk to China, the crazy and fun-filled mash-up of Bollywood romance and Shaw Brothers martial-arts action that stars Akshay Kumar and Gordon Liu. Though partly filmed along China's Great Wall, most of the film was actually shot in Thailand. It's showing on Saturday, June 5. No word on whether the Thailand-based co-star villain, 7-foot-tall stuntman and actor Conan Stevens, will be in attendance.

The night of June 6 will have a another screening with a Thailand-location connection, The Prince and Me 4: The Elephant Adventure, with the Thai cast and crew in attendance. It was produced by Frank DeMartini with production services by DeWarrenne Films, which have teamed up to make the action film Elephant White, currently in production with director Prachya Pinkaew at the helm.

The festival this year is receiving major support from the Ministry of Culture as well as Vijitt Resort, TwoVillas, Phuket Beer, Siam Winery, the Phuket Gazette and Global i Care.

Further details are on the festival website and the schedule is expected to be finalized soon.

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