Tuesday, August 14, 2012

16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival opens with Apichatpong's Ashes

The 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival gets underway this week at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, screening some of the best Thai independent and student shorts as well as special programmes of films from all over the world.

It all starts at 5.30pm on Thursday with the local premiere of Ashes, one of the latest by Cannes Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Premiered earlier this year on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, the 20-minute experimental work was shot with the retro hand-cranked Lomokino 35mm-film camera. It's politically tinged, with Article 112, the controversial lese majeste law, credited among the "stars". Also in the cast is King Kong, not the giant ape, but Apichatpong's dog.

Other shorts in the opening are Pitch Black Heist, starring Michael Fassbender, which is part of the Bafta shorts package sponsored by the British Council, Thailand, and Il Capo, a look inside an Italian marble quarry that's part of the annual Best of Clermont-Ferrand package from the French short-film fest that's the biggest in the world. The opening night will also feature shorts by French comedy legend Jacques Tati.

One of many special programmes is from Friends Without Borders, a Chiang Mai NGO that works with the migrant community. It includes the latest from director Supamok Silarak, The Assembly of the Samurais, a behind-the-scenes feature documentary on the Friends Without Borders Holding Hands filmmaking workshop that brought together five ethnic filmmakers. It premiered earlier this year at Chiang Mai's Fly Beyond the Barbwire Fence Festival.

The shorts from the workshop will also be shown: Ja Daw's Choices, a romantic drama that's the first film by young Lahu Mo Tha, who is the main subject of The Assembly of the SamuraisA Comb and A Buckle, a family drama by Ja Bue, another young Lahu; Jabo Means the Man of Fortune, an action-drama by Lahu director Maitree Chamroensuksakul; Ta Mu La, a refugee's tale by Saw Shee Keh Sher, a Karen environmental activist and  When the Sky's Color Changes, a comedy by Hmong NGO leader Insree Khampeepanyakul about a district chief who unwittingly travels to a future in which the only safe places on earth are highland villages. Both Ta Mu La and Jabo were prize-winners at the Barbwire fest.

One of the Thai Short Film and Video Festival's annual programmes focuses on "queer" shorts, which this year takes a tuneful twist with Queer Musical! The programme offers five shorts focusing: Skallamann by Maria Bock from Norway; Boy Meets Boy by Gwang-soo Kim Jho from South Korea; Au Clair de la Lune by Dominique Filhol and Antoine Espagne from France; Slut the Musical by Tonnette Stanford from Australia and Put Your Fur Up by Thai filmmaker Phuwadon Torasint.

Spiritual matters are addressed in Dhamma Shorts, featuring three new works by well-known Thai filmmakers. Sang-Yen by Sivaroj Kongsakul; I Dreamed a Dream by Chookiat Sakveerakul and In the Farm by Uruphong Raksasad. All premiered earlier this year at the Buddhist International Film Festival Bangkok.

More pressing worries are examined in Apocalypse Now – not the Vietnam War epic, but a package of shorts by three filmmakers on the end of the world. They are Portrait of the Universe Napat Treepalawisetkun; L' Attaque du Monstre Géant Suceur de Cerveaux de l'Espace and Armadingen by Germany's Philipp Kaessbohrer.

Another compilation is this year's selection from the Digital Project of South Korea's Jeonju International Film Festival, featuring works by three Asian filmmakers: The Great Cinema Party by the Philippines' Raya Martin; Light in Yellow Breathing Space by Sri Lanka's Vimukthi Jayasundara; and When Night Falls by China's Ying Liang.

Another annual feature of the Thai Short Film and Video Fest is the S-Express packages of shorts from around the region. This year features programmes from the Philippines,Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Of course the main reason for the festival is the competition sections for new Thai indie shorts, student films, Thai animation, short documentaries and international filmmakers.

The festival runs daily from Thursday until August 26 except Monday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

Screenings will be in the fifth-floor auditorium and in the fourth-floor conference room. Admission is free.

For more details, search for "16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival" on Facebook or visit www.ThaiFilm.com.

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