Sunday, October 14, 2012

36 wins New Currents Award at Busan International Film Festival


It's the little film that could. In a stunning win, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's 36 shared the top prize at the 17th Busan International Film Festival, which wrapped up on Saturday.

He's "a young filmmaker who invented his own film language,” the jury headed by Hungarian filmmaker  Béla Tarr said, calling 36 "breathtaking, artful, economic. [It] never included an unnecessary word."

The other winner of the New Currents Prize, given to directors making their first or second feature, was Lebanon's Maryam Najafi for Kayan.

Nawapol's film is a highly experimental effort. It's the story of a young woman (Vajrasthira Koramit) who works as a location scout for a movie company who gets into a relationship with an art director (Tee-Rak's Wanlop Rungkamjad). Later on, the guy moves on and the woman is stuck with a broken portable hard drive containing all the photos she took with him. She struggles to reconstruct those fragmented memories. Running 68 minutes, it's composed of 36 static shots, each a single-camera setup, and often from odd angles that obscure the faces of the actors.

It was released in Thailand earlier this year through an experimental effort by Nawapol, who executive produced the film and shepherded it around to various alternative venues like the Bangkok Art and Culture Center and the Alliance Française Bangkok. He promoted the screenings through Facebook and charged 100 baht a head, selling out most shows. It also had a run at Bangkok's House cinema, playing to capacity crowds.

The production also had support from Aditya Assarat's Pop Pictures and the big film studio GTH, as well as A Day magazine, which Nawapol writes for.

In addition to making many acclaimed short films, like Bangkok Tanks and Cherie is Korean-Thai, Nawapol is a screenwriter, film critic and film programmer. His varied career includes screenwriting on such hit Thai mainstream commercial films as Bangkok Traffic Love Story and Top Secret Teenage Billionaire. He also co-founded Third Class Citizen, which organizes screenings of independent Thai films.

Other Thai films at Busan this year were Nonzee Nimibutr's psychological thriller Distortion, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Mekong Hotel, Boonsong Nakphoo's Four Stations and the short film Oriole by Kaynipa Polnikorn. Nonzee, a fixture at Busan, was interviewed this year by the Hollywood Reporter Festival Daily.

Update: More coverage of Nawapol's win from The Nation.

(Via Hollywood Reporter, Film Business Asia)

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