Begun in 2008, indie distributor and production-marque Extra Virgin is restarting its Director's Screen Project, bringing independent arthouse films to the Bangkok multiplexes.
The series starts on August 5 with the long-awaited local theatrical release of Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก, Jao Nok Krajok). Since premiering at last year's Pusan International Film Festival and opening the World Film Festival of Bangkok, director Anocha Suwichakornpong's family and social drama has been on a tear through the festival circuit, winning the VPRO Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and most recently Transilvania Trophy at the Transilvania International Film Festival. Upcoming screenings include the Munich Film Festival and the Paris Cinema International Film Festival.
Next on September 2 will be Agrarian Utopia (สวรรค์บ้านนา , Sawan Baan Na), a beautiful, digitally shot experimental documentary on the hardships of rice farming by Uruphong Raksasad. It's also been ripping up the festival circuit. It won the Unesco Award at last year's Asia Pacific Screen Awards, best narrative feature at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and most recently a jury prize at the Millennium International Documentary Film Festival. Earlier it was in the Berlin Documentary Forum, where The Nation's correspondent caught up with Uruphong before the filmmaker jetted off to upstate New York for Colgate College's Flaherty Seminar. More screenings are coming up at the NETPAC Festival in New Delhi plus Toronto, Adelaide, Tokyo, Warsaw and Ramalla.
On September 30, closing out the first leg of this year's series, will be a package of shorts by Aditya Assarat, headlined by Phuket, a drama about a South Korean actress (Lim Su-jeong from I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK and Sorry, I Love You) who gets a tour of the island from her hotel limo driver, played by veteran leading man Sorapong Chatree. The short was commissioned as a tourism promotion by South Korea and Thailand. Two other shorts by the recent Silpathorn Award laureate will be shown, 2004's Boy Genius and 2005's The Sigh. Together, the two shorts are the first two parts of Aditya's Boy Genius trilogy.
The Director's Screen films will show for one month at SFX the Emporium in Bangkok, with daily showtimes at 7 and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2. Throughout the release period, there will be special activities on Saturdays after the evening show, where the films’ directors will do a Q&A session.
Here's a bit more on the series from Extra Virgin:
Striving to introduce more distinctive, thought-provoking titles from Thailand as well as around the world to the local audience, the Director's Screen project reflects the widespread recognition in contemporary Thai cinema in an international arena as evident in the Palme d’Or success of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which is being released in Thailand this week.
The Director's Screen series was launched in 2008 with Aditya Assarat's Wonderful Town. Already an award-winner on the international circuit, the limited release secured a spot for the haunting romantic drama in the local awards, where it swept many top prizes, including five trophies at the industry's top kudos, the Subhanahongsa Awards.
Pimpaka Towira's sprawling political documentary, The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong, was the second film on the Director's Screen slate in 2008.
This year’s Director’s Screen project is supported by the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture, and with a new technical partner in ACD Network, Singapore. "The strengthened commitment and shared vision of all the project’s partners will confirm the longevity of the initiative and more titles are set to be released in the next phases of the project in the coming year," says Extra Virgin.
(Via e-mailed press release from Extra Virgin, thanks Mai!)