Around 30 features and shorts, mostly from around Asia, will screen in the International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 Bangkok from June 7 to 10 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.
Part of events celebrating 2,600 years since the Lord Buddha's enlightenment, it's a collaboration between filmmaker Pimpaka Towira, who's previously programmed the for-now-defunct Bangkok International Film Festival, and Gaetano Kazuo Maida, executive director of the Buddhist Film Foundation, which puts on the International Buddhist Film Festival.
Among the Thai selection will be brand-new shorts by well-known filmmakers Chookiat Sakveerakul, Uruphong Raksasad and Sivaroj Kongsakul. There's also an offering by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, his 2007 short Morakot, and classic films from South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Vietnam.
The fest actually opens on Wednesday night at the Scala Theatre with an invitation-only screening of The Light of Asia, the 1925 silent by Franz Osten and Himansu Rai. The Korphai band conducted by Anan Nakkhong will provide live Thai classical accompaniment. Restored in 2001 by Europe's Arte channel, it's the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the man who become Lord Buddha.
Among the Thai films is the 2012 feature Three Marks of Existence by Gunparwitt Phuwadolwisid. It's about a young man named Em who travels to the four major Buddhist pilgrimage sites: Lumpini (Lord Buddha's birthplace), Sarnath (where he delivered his first teaching), Bodh Gaya (the place of his Enlightenment) and Kusinara (where he died). Along the way, he encounters various others that change his attitude towards life and his faith.
And there's short films:
- Nirvana (2008) by Siwadol Rathee is about a young man who is ordained according to his mother's wishes that she see her son enter the monkhood in her lifetime.
- Emerald a.k.a. Morakot (2007) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul was filmed in the derelict Morakot Hotel at the corner of Thong Lor and Petchaburi Road. In this ghostly setting, there's inspiration found in an early 1900s Buddhist novel, "In the Pilgrim Kamanita", in which the protagonists are reborn as stars and tell their stories to each other until they no longer exist.
- I Dreamed a Dream (2012) by Chookiat Sakveerakul is about a man's attachment to things and feelings like anger and hatred.
- In the Farm (2012) by Uruphong Raksasad is about a young woman working on a rubber plantation who starts to have doubts as she works to get rid of weeds around the rubber trees.
- Sang-Yen (2012) by Sivaroj Kongsakul has a young man lost in thought as the sun sets, thinking about marriage, life and the monkhood.
Among the Asian Panorama selection is several older films, such as 1989's Come, Come, Come Upward by South Korea's Im Kwon-taek, 1979's Raining in the Mountain by King Hu, 1967's Yellow Robe from Sri Lanka, 1996's Gone, Gone, Forever Gone by Ho Quang Minh from Vietnam, and from Myanmar, Talking Heart, a 1968 drama by Thu Kha.
And there's the 2011 feature by Cambodia's Rithy Panh, The Catch, adapted from a novel by Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe. Panh sets it during the Khmer Rouge era, with a a boy soldier guarding an African-American POW.
The festival is also holding a competition for student filmmakers, with 13 shorts being screened.
Well-known monks V Vachiramethi, Jayasaro Bhikku, Phra Paisal Visalo and Phra Dhamma Kosajarn also selected some films for the Carte Blanche program.