Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Toronto fest gets to know its ABC's

The ABC's of Death, a horror omnibus of 26 segments – one for each letter of the English alphabet – will make its premiere as part of the Midnight Madness program at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

Produced by Alamo Drafthouse, Timpson Films and Magnet Releasing, The ABC's of Death includes a segment from Shutter and Alone co-director Banjong Pisanthanakun, marking his return to horror, however briefly, after he helmed GTH's hit romantic comedy Hello Stranger.

The Toronto fest will also feature Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Mekong Hotel and a short, TMB Panyee FC, about kids living on a tiny Thai island who made their dreams of playing soccer true by building their own floating football pitch. TMB Panyee FC, a five-minute documentary, was commissioned by Thai Military Bank as part of an ad campaign. In Toronto, it's playing as part of "For the Love of ...", a package of soccer movies.

Also Thailand-related is The Impossible, a drama by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as a couple in Phuket searching for their missing children in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 to 16.

Shakespeare Must Die in Seoul fest

Although it's been banned in Thailand, Ing K and Manit Sriwanichpoom's political satire Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย, Shakespeare Tong Tai) is in competition in the sixth Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival.

It's supposedly illegal for the banned film to even be shown outside Thailand, but according to Screen Daily, the filmmakers skirted the ban by shipping it under a different name. Ing K explains:

“I thank CinDi for inviting my film even though they had to ship it under a secret name – Teenage Love Story – because the film is banned in Thailand, where people live in fear. I’m suing the government so I shouldn’t even be here,” the director said at the opening ceremony.

She continued: “We are fighting because in Thailand, directors have less than human rights. But I promise Shakespeare Must Die is not boring. I made it like a Mexican soap opera and a Thai horror film. You can see it, even though Thai people can’t see it.”

Listed on the festival website, with a running length of 172 minutes, Shakespeare Must Die made its world premiere.

The story deals with a fictional country's dictator who rose to power by killing the king. Although Ing K. has denied it, the dictator character is generally thought to be a stand-in for Thaksin Shinawatra, the telecommications tycoon and populist politician who was ousted from the Thai premiership in a military coup in 2006. The movie was funded by the Culture Ministry's Strong Thailand initiative, but that was under the government put in power by the coup-makers and royalists. Now the premiership is held by Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, who was elected to the post a year ago.

Also in competition at CinDi is another politically tinged work, Wichanon Sumumjarn's In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire, in which a guy loses his job in Bangkok due to the political instability and moves back upcountry.

The festival also featured Apichatpong Weerasethakul's online short Ashes, which was also recently shown at the Thai Short Film and Video Festival.

The Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival opened on August 22 and ends today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Short 16: Visual Element takes top prize

Visual Element, the top-prize winner in the R.D. Pestonji category.

Visual Element (ไฟ-นัยน์-ตา) by Wuttin Chansataboot, a surreal drama about a slacker artist whose subjects come to life, won the top award at the Thai Film Foundation's 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival, which wrapped up on Sunday after a 10-day run at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

Other winners in the top-prize R.D. Pestonji category, named for the pioneering Thai filmmaker, included Dites Lui que je ne veux pas etre Sous-titre, a droll observation on subtitled foreign films that was most likely intentionally not subtitled. Directed by Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, a cult figure in the Thai indie film community, Dites Lui was also among the winners of the Vichitmatra Award for distinctive achievements in filmmaking.

Kong Pahurak was given the Vichitamatra Award for all three of his so-called 1102 entries – the surreal silent drama An Indiscreet Incident on Yotha Street, in which a man finds himself living with a giant black bird, and Shinda Gaiden, in which a young man tries to stay a step ahead of an ax murderer – both in the Pestonji competition, and his documentary, Manifold, a 4.32-minute record of an art exhibition by writer Prabda Yoon, Kohei Nawa and Kawol.

Another runner-up in the R.D. Pestonji competition was Enlighten, a comedy by Thanachart Siripatrachai about actors portraying Buddhist monks. It had them engaging in unmonklike behavior, like eating after noon at a streetside stall, smoking cigarettes and firing a prop rifle. One of the actors takes his role quite seriously and lectures his castmates to show respect for the monk's robes, but he himself has a dark secret. Enlighten also won the Media for Change Award.

Among the special mentions was the romantic drama Ja Daw's Choice, the debut of young Lahu filmmaker Tanit Jamroensuksakul. It was among films produced in the Holding Hands workshop for ethnic filmmakers by the Chiang Mai NGO Friends Without Borders, and was also shown as part of a special program that included The Assembly of Samurais, a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary on Ja Daw's Choice.

Other films from the Friends Without Borders project won awards – Suthit Saja's A Belt and a Comb, about a poor mother's struggle to buy a belt for her schoolboy son, and Natpakan Khemkhaw's The Farmer, about an impoverished farmer's bad decision to sell his stubborn water buffalo and take out a loan for a mechanical tiller. They were both runners-up in the Special White Elephant category for filmmakers under 18. The Farmer also won the Pirabkhao Award, which highlights freedom and equality issues. The films had premiered earlier this year at the Fly Beyond the Barbwire Fence festival in Chiang Mai.

Also of note among the R.D. Pestonji winners was Take/Know/Low/Yee by Tippawan Narintorn, an assistant director at Aditya Assarat's Pop Pictures. Filmed in the Muslim community in southern Thailand's Satun Province, it's the story of a small rivalry that develops between two sisters. It competed earlier this year in the Clermont-Ferrand festival in France.

The top award in the White Elephant competition for undergraduate student filmmakers was Jirassaya Wongsutin's Welcome Home, about a young woman's reunion with her estranged father when he comes to stay with her after his own home in Bangkok is flooded. The two then reminisce as they journey to a farm in the provinces.

The Farmer, a runner-up in the Special White Elephant competition and winner of the Pirabkao Award.

Last year's flooding in central Thailand was also covered in a special program of flood films and in one of the documentary-category winners, Flood Way.

A runner-up in the White Elephant category included Sicker by Pitchaya Jarunboonpracha and Suppakorn Krutsorn, about a pair of survivors of a zombie apocalypse in Bangkok. The special mentions included Freedom Rhythm by Natapol Rintaka, about a young noodle vendor who enjoys playing his guitar. He's hired by a musician friend to make a record, but runs into trouble with the producer.

The Audience Award, voted on by ballots handed out at each screening, went to another White Elephant entry, the touching Hero by Thana Pattamapa, about a schoolboy whose garbage-collector father is too poor to buy him an Ultraman action figure. He makes one out of cardboard, but is taunted by his classmates.

There was no winner chosen for the Special White Elephant category, but one of the runners-up was Military Soldier Student the Military by Theeraphat Ngathong, in which a young man tries to change the channel on a boring TV program, but finds he can't. He then tries turning the TV off and unplugging it, but is unsuccessful. So he gives up and watches the show, and more friends show up to watch. Special mentions included True or False by Boonjira Phungmee, about a chubby schoolgirl struggling with an exam.

Computer animation dominated the entries competing for the Payut Ngaokrachan Award, named for the pioneering Thai animator. Such was the case with the winner, the fantasy Na by Kraisit Bhokasawat. But among the special mentions was the traditional 2D-style What Do You Want? by Sorasak Boonjarus, a strange tale of a giant baby with a magic pipe. Also from the animation category, the anime-like The Loser Princess by Dollada Chunjuen, was among the Vichitmatra Award winners.

The Best Actor prize went to Elvis Presley tribute artist Surachai Ningsanond, who was profiled in his son Supalerk's White Elephant entry, the docu-drama Never Die?. It's about a filmmaking son (portrayed by an actor) making an effort to reconcile with his imitation-Elvis father by making a documentary about him.

Other highlights of the festival included The Best of Clermont-Ferrand programs, BAFTA shorts, and the screening of this year's Jeonju Digital Project films, which included When Night Falls, dealing with the case of Yiang Jia, a man who became a symbol for injustice when was executed in 2008 for killing six police officers with a knife. He had complained of abuse and harassment by police  after his arrest in 2007 for riding an unlicensed bicycle. According to the Bangkok Post, the film has angered Chinese authorities and director Ying Liang faces arrest if he returns to his home country.

Photos of the winners are on Facebook.

The Loser Princess, a winner of the Vichitmatra Award.

Here's the complete list of award-winners, thanks to Sanchai Chotirosseranee of the Thai Film Archive and Thai Film Foundation:

R.D. Pestonji Award (best short film by general filmmakers)

  • Winner: Visual Element (ไฟ-นัยน์-ตา) by Wuttin Chansataboot
  • Runners-Up: Dites Lui que je ne veux pas etre Sous-titre by Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke and Enlighten by Thanachart Siripatrachai
  • Special Mentions: Ja Daw’s Choice by Tanit Jamroensuksakul, Take/Know/Low/Yee by Tippawan Narintorn and Gorgonen by Ajon Srivardhana Kibreab

R.D. Pestonji Award International (best international short film)

  • Winner: Mon Amoureux by Daniel Metge
  • Special Mentions: Long Distance Information by Douglas Hart and Cavo d’Oro by Siamak Etemadi

White Elephant Award (best short by undergraduate students)

  • Winner: Welcome Home by Jirassaya Wongsutin
  • Runners-up: Floodway by Somporn Inaon and Sicker by Pitchaya Jarunboonpracha and Suppakorn Krutsorn
  • Special Mentions: Freedom Rhythm by Natapol Rintaka, Shape by Sarayut Vannagool and Celestial Space by Ukrit Sa-nguanhai

Special White Elephant (best short by students under 18)

  • Winner: No award given
  • Runners-up: Military Soldier Student the Military by Theeraphat Ngathong, A Belt and a Comb by Suthit Saja and The Farmer by Natpakan Khemkhaw
  • Special Mentions: True or False by Boonjira Phungmee, Day by Piyathida Supkut and The Nearer, the Farther by Panita Tintalay

Duke Award (best documentary)

  • Winner: It Was My desire to Have My Very Own Space by Thip Tang
  • Runners-up: My Noon by Tossaphon Riantong and Flood Way by Preecha Srisuwan
  • Special Mention: Peaceful Death by Panumai Tirapatpibul

Payut Ngaokrachan Award (best animation)

  • Winner: Na by Kraisit Bhokasawat
  • Runners-up: Times by Pidok Moomuensri and The Factory by Ekarach Kaewmahing
  • Special Mentions: Tiny by Phat Thiramongkol, What Do You Want? by Sorasak Boonjarus, The Way Up by Chuennapa Rattanachewakorn

Vichitmatra Award (given by the Vichitmatra Foundation for distinctive achievements in filmmaker)

  • S.I.C.K by Pitchayakorn Sangsuk
  • The Loser Princess by Dollada Chunjuen
  • Kong Pahurak, for all three of his films –  An Indiscreet Incident on Yotha Street, Shinda Gaiden and Manifold
  • Dites Lui que je ne veux pas etre Sous-titre by Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke

Pirabkhao Award (given by the 14 October 73 Memorial Foundation for films highlighting freedom and equality issues)

  • The Farmer by Natpakan Khemkhaw

Media for Change Award (for films representing the power of media)

  • Enlighten by Thanachart Siripatrachai

Best Actor

  • Surachai Ningsanond from Never Die?

Kodak Film School Competition (for best cinematography shot on Kodak film)

  • Shape by Sarayut Vannagool

Audience Award

  • Hero by Thana Pattamapa

Kizuna (Bond) Project Award (for high-school filmmakers, whose works are selected to go to the Asian Youth Film Festival)

  • Time by Sorawiss Wongprasit
  • Life by Chawalit Tatiwong
  • Destination by Payathida
  • Legend by Piyathida Supkut
  • Dancing Queen by Tassamon Kunyasai
  • Puppy Love by Sethawut Nhorthon

Sicker, a runner-up in the White Elephant category.

Note: This was corrected from the original posting. Please see the comments below for details.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The bad guys in Expendables 2 are speaking Thai

If you saw the  '80s action throwback The Expendables 2 and imagined you heard some of the bad guys speaking Thai, you weren't imagining things.

The scene occurs early on, when Sylvester Stallone and his crew, including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Jet Li, go to "Nepal" (Bulgaria, actually) to rescue a hostage.

Don Theerathada, fight coordinator.
Here's where Jet Li has a quick and dirty fight scene, dressed all in black in a black room, before he exits the movie in an unlethal way in order to make room for the scenery-chewing antics of Jean-Claude Van Damme as well as the oddly understated Chuck Norris and a catchphrase-spewing Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, and Bruce Willis! As a plus, Simon "Con Air" West is the director.

Anyway, as is usually the case when you are watching a Hollywood movie and you feel a pervading Thai connection, you should trust your instincts and stay seated to watch the closing credits. You will be rewarded with at least a few Thai names.

Here's one: Don Theerathada, a.k.a. Don Tai or Don Thai. He's the fight coordinator on The Expendables 2. He has an extensive list of credits.

He's also on Twitter. There, I asked "was it just my imagination or were the 'Nepalese' bad guys speaking Thai?:

He answered:

"LOL, yes they were. Most of them were Thai. We brought over Chinese, Thai, Kazakstan, Australian and New Zealand stunts over to Bulgaria."

So, there you go. If you miss seeing old-time action flicks on the big screen, then The Expendables 2 might be just what you're looking for.

Meanwhile in Bangkok cinemas, The Raid: Redemption has opened. Off to see that on the big screen today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sunny and Ananda go to Tibet, find Shambhala

Shambhala (ชัมบาลา), the spiritual road-trip drama starring Sunny Suwanmethanon and Ananda Everingham, has been sitting in Sahamongkol Film International's vaults for the three years, apparently waiting for the studio to find the right time to release it.

That time is now. It's in Thai cinemas today.

It's the debut feature by Panjapong Kongkanoi, a veteran director of TV series.

Sunny and Ananda are estranged brothers. Sunny is the more strait-laced and uptight of the pair. He decides to go to Tibet to fulfill the wishes of his ailing girlfriend (Nalinthip Phermphatsakul).

His feckless older brother, played by Ananda, then turns up. He's having problems with his girlfriend (Asa Wang) and invites himself along.

You can find out more about the adventures they had making the film on location in Tibet in an article in The Nation.

There's an English-subtitled trailer, and it's embedded below.

Monday, August 20, 2012

In memoriam: Charoen Iampungporn

Charoen is flanked by the cast and crew of The Red Eagle, with star Ananda Everingham in the stocking cap and director Wisit Sasanatieng wearing sunglasses.

While Hollywood mourns the death today of Top Gun director Tony Scott, the Thai film industry is in mourning over the loss of one its own.

Charoen Iampungporn (เจริญ เอี่ยมพึ่งพ), executive chairman of Five Star Production, died this morning. He was 62.

He took over Five Star, which was formed in 1973 and is one of Thai industry's oldest movie studios, after the death of his brother Kiat in 1981. He was president of the studio with nephews Kiatkamon and Kiattikul and niece Aphiradee as executives.

Charoen produced many of the studio's most-successful films, including Bhandit Rittakol's Boonchu series of teen romantic comedies in the late 1980s and early '90s and Bandit's 1995 childhood adventure drama Once Upon a Time ... In the Morning, which was among several Five Star productions submitted to the Oscars.

As executive producer, he helped preside over the "Thai New Wave" of the early 2000s, which saw Thai movies reach great acclaim on the international festival and market circuit. Among them were Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe, Wisit Sasanatieng's Citizen Dog and the Art of the Devil horror franchise.

Other recent Five Star movies include The Red Eagle, a reboot of the famous Thai action series of the 1960s, and Dark Flight 407, the first Thai feature to filmed in 3D.
According to news reports, Charoen died of a lung infection. Religious rites are being held for the next seven days at Wat That Thong.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Echo Planet

  • Directed by Kompin Kemkumnird
  • Starring Nuengtida Sopon, Atipitch Chutiwatkhajornchai, Noppan Jantarasorn, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee
  • Released in Thai cinemas on August 2, 2012; rated G.
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 5/5

A historic triumph for Thai animation, Echo Planet (เอคโค่ จิ๋วก้องโลก, Echo Jew Kong Loke), is an entertaining and handsomely rendered tale with an environmental message.

The first Thai animated feature to be released in 3D, Echo Planet is the latest effort by Kantana Animation and Kompin Kemkumnird, a Cal Arts graduate and veteran of Disney and Blue Sky Studios in the U.S. who made his debut as a director with 2006's Khan Kluay, a nationalistic tale of a plucky little war elephant in old Siam.

Echo Planet should appeal to a broader international market with its story of environmental doom and three children who are on an adventure to save the world.

It's also distinctly Thai – something that sets it apart from the Pixars, the Dreamworks and other outfits that feed the Hollywood machine – tapping into traditional folk wisdom and spiritual beliefs, but not in ways that are preachy or boring. Along with sumptuous background scenery of the Thai jungle and stunning rock formations, there's also wildlife that's native to the region – this is probably the first movie ever made that features the tapir, a pig-like jungle mammal, as a comic-relief character.

The environmental message is simplified by turning the phenomenon of global warming into a monster, actually a bunch of little monsters that invade our gadgets and machines and turn them against us. Acronym-loving scientists in the movie call these things Biologically Unified Carbon Threats, or B.U.C.T.s for short.

It's while the sky is cracking and the B.U.C.T.s are starting to invade when the World Scout Jamboree is being held in Thailand. One of the star attendees is Sam, the son of the president of Capital State. The country, the most advanced in the world, is a thinly veiled stand-in for the U.S. In a satiric nod, the red, white and blue flag of Capital State has a UPC symbol instead stars in a blue patch on a field of red and white horizontal stripes.

On a hike, Sam's GPS gadget goes haywire and he gets lost. He's rescued by a brother and sister from the Karen highland tribe. The little boy is Jorpe who can talk to animals and trees by touching his forehead to them. His tough older sister Norva wears the traditional Karen neck-stretching rings, giving her a distinct ethnic appearance. Wielding a bamboo staff, she's also a fierce fighter, bringing to mind the Thai live-action heroine Jeeja Yanin.

First, the kids have to get past their differences. The Westerner Sam is typically arrogant. He doubts the Karen ways and shows ingratitude for the smelly folk remedies they use on him after he plunges to what should have been his death. The Karen kids are suspicious of the foreigner and his high-tech gadgets.

Eventually, the three of them, plus Jorpe's pet tapir – a spin-off possibility – set off on an adventure in which they have to stop a project that will cause environmental havoc. Under the president of Capital State's leadership, the U.N. and the world scientific community plan to combat the B.U.C.T.s with a device called the Cool Bomb. But Jorpe, having talked to the trees, discovers that the cool bomb will cause even greater destruction. The only solution is to switch off the power and stop feeding the B.U.C.T. critters.

Partial credit for the script, which should appeal to little kids as well as their hipster parents, goes to Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, one of several scribes listed. Kongdej is also roped in to voice the president of Capital State and is able to draw on his experience as a film director himself to project that god-like authority.

Other voices include actress-singer "Noona" Nuengtida Sopon from Hello Stranger as Norva, kid actor Atipitch Chutiwatkhajornchai as Jorpe and Noppan Jantarasorn is Sam.

It should be a no-brainer for a Hollywood studio to pick this up, put some big names in the voice cast and give it a good release in the U.S.

Related posts:

Review: Seven Something

  • Directed by Paween Purijitpanya, Adisorn Trisirikasem, Jira Maligool
  • Starring Jirayu La-ongmanee, Suthata Udomsilp, Sunny Suwanmethanon and Cris Horwang, Nichkhun Horvejkul, Sukwan Bulakul, Panissara Phimpru
  • Released in Thai cinemas on July 26, 2012; rated G
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

It's been eight years since since production companies GMM Pictures, Tai Entertainment and Hub Ho Hin merged to form the GTH studio, but for reasons of superstitious love of auspicious numbers and a slick marketing gimmick, they are celebrating seven years this year with the release of Seven Something  (รัก 7 ปี ดี 7 หน, Rak Jet Pee Dee Jet Hon), a three-segment romance.

It's very much in the spirit of past GTH efforts, featuring directors and stars who've played parts in the studio's successes. They are the familiar GTH stories of comfortable middle- and upper-class urban Thai existence, dealing with three stages of life and love. All have something or other to do with numbers that can be multiplied by seven.

The first part, 14 Likes, marks a departure for director Paween Purijitpanya, who's been doing horror for GTH, like Body #19 and segments in the Phobia movies. But Paween's cartoonish hyper-stylistic sensibilities perfectly fit this story of teen romance in this age of the Internet and social networks. It's actually a bit of a psycho-drama, examining the peculiar habit of constantly snapping self-portrait phone-cam photos and oversharing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

Jirayu La-ongmanee from SuckSeed and Suthata Udomsilp from Laddaland are teenage lovers. Their relationship starts out cute with the schoolyard gossip about the couple playing in dialogue recorded over the school bus scene from the 2003 classic childhood romance Fan Chan – the first movie the three companies that formed GTH collaborated on.

As the kids court, the boy's obsession with recording the entire proceedings becomes problematic when he uses his tricked-out iPhone to make a video of his sweetheart during an outing in the park. She thinks the short film was made just for her, and she's disappointed to find he's shared it with everyone. Later, a personal chat and ukulele performance she gives him on Skype is recorded and shared. After she gets mad, he tries to make it private, but it's too late. The relationship hits a firewall.

Even then, the kid can't stop with the Internet, taking to the popular Pantip.com Web forum to share his feelings about the breakup, and then finally recording a tearful apology and of course sharing it with everyone.

Adisorn Trisirikasem directs the second part, 21/28, which covers a celebrity couple, Sunny Suwanmethanon from Dear Dakanda and Cris Horwang from Bangkok Traffic Love Story. This segment has plenty of in-jokes and references to past GTH films as it tells the story of a 21-year-old actor and actress who become hitched while making a romantic comedy called Sea You. Afterward, they had a very ugly, very public break-up. Now, at age 28, with her value as a starlet quickly diminishing, the actress Mam tracks down her old co-star boyfriend Jon in hopes of getting him on board for a sequel, Sea You Again.

It's a sharp commentary on the state of youth-obssessed showbiz in which still-attractive, still-talented stars find their opportunities drying up before they even hit 30.

The segment also offers plenty of eye-candy, thanks to it being filmed among the colorful marine critters at Siam Ocean World, where Sunny's character has grown a pot belly even though he's working as scuba diver for the crowds of schoolkids. Cris turns up to plead with him through the aquarium glass while Sunny remains stoic behind his diver's mask.

The final segment in this 2.5-hour extravaganza marks the return of studio co-founder Jira Maligool to the director's chair for the first time since his infamous 2005 flop, the historical coming-of-age drama The Tin Mine.

His story about marathon runners, 42.195, marks a return to form more in keeping with his simpler and critically acclaimed Mekhong Full Moon Party, which was entertaining even though it was heavy on spiritual and philosphical methaphors.

Here, running a marathon is a new beginning for a 42-year-old widowed newscaster, portrayed by real-life veteran news anchor Sukquan Bulakul in her debut as an actor.

Still in mourning over the husband she lost to an airliner crash, she is strolling in Lumpini Park when she is literally knocked head over heels by a young runner, 20 years her junior. He's played by Nichkhun Horvejkul, the Thai guy in the immensely popular South Korean boyband 2PM. He's also making his debut as an actor.

The two form an odd but heartfelt friendship as they support each other in training for the Bangkok marathon and preparing themselves for hitting that physical and mental "wall" at some point during the race.

Along the way, there are plenty of fun cameos from regular GTH stars and bit-part players, too many to mention. The most prominent is "Opal" Panissara Pimpru, who got her start in GTH films playing the saucy comic relief character and is today a popular TV presenter and personality. Here, she's the supportive best friend of Suquan's character in the marathon segment. Chaleumpol "Jack Fan Chan" Tikumpornteerawong, who can be counted on for cameos in most GTH movies, turns up outside of the Fan Chan clip as himself, hosting a movie-awards show and getting punched out. The best is saved for last, with 80-something actor-director Somboonsuk "Piak Poster" Niyomsiri from last year's hit The Billionaire seen triumphantly crossing the marathon finish line.

The endings of each segment tend toward sadness, bittersweetness or ambiguity, but the producers still send everyone out of the cinema with big smiles on their faces, thanks to a closing-credits sequence in which the entire cast and all the participating extras shimmy and shake around a big birthday cake as peppy pop music plays.

Related posts:

Lesbian lovers' fidelity is tested in Yes or No 2

Tomboy Kim and her cute girlfriend Pie are still together after the college roomates became lovers in the 2010 cult-hit Yes or No? So, I Love You.

In Yes or No 2 (Yes or No 2 รักไม่รัก อย่ากั๊กเลย, Yes or No 2 Rak Mai Rak...Ya Kuk Loei), the much-anticipated sequel opening in Thai cinemas this week, their relationship is tested when the two young women go their separate ways for internships, with Pie (Sucharat Manaying) going to Chanthaburi and Kim (Supanart Jittaleela) heading off to picturesque Nan Province where she catches the eye of the attractive Jam (Apitha Klaiudom).

Sarassawadee Wongsompetch again directs, with a screenplay by the popular writer Nepalee.

Billed as the first openly lesbian Thai film, Yes or No didn't do all that well in Thai cinemas, but it became big in other parts of Asia, attracting huge followings of fans in Taiwan, where it was released on DVD, China and the Philippines.

A Bangkok Post article from last month examines the phenomenon.

In another Bangkok Post article, independent executive producer Chatchada Musikaratuay talks more about the film's success. She says there's plans for the release of a Yes or No DVD in the U.S., and it seems likely the sequel will be picked up there as well.

There's an English-subtitled trailer for Yes or No 2 embedded below.

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.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kom Akkadej, a full appreciation

Payak Likay

Yesterday's news of the passing of film-industry titan Kom Akkadej brought sadness to many fans of old-time Thai cinema.

I recalled meeting Kom at the Phuket Film Festival in 2010, where around six or seven people turned out for the screening of The Mountain Lion, a rousing action flick starring Sorapong Chatree and Jarunee Suksawat. It was a VCD or DVD copy of an old worn-out VHS master. Kom sat at the back of the auditorium with a few of his hard-core Thai fans and regaled them with stories of making the film. I spoke with him only briefly afterward, and was saddened to learn that most of his films haven't survived. Some negatives were stored for a time at processing labs in Hong Kong, but when they ran out of storage space, Kom's films "were pushed into the sea".

Another bereaved fan is James Marshall, who submitted the following guest post.

Enter the Coliseum – Kom Akkadej

Story by James Marshall

On the morning of Thursday, August 9, 2012, Kom Akkadej went to the Coliseum multiplex cinema he owned in Surat Thani for a normal days work. Everything seemed fine until he suddenly had a heart attack and died. He had no real history of heart disease, there were no warning signs at all according to his wife. It came as a shock to everyone. Although he was 64 years old, he was a picture of health.

In Thailand, most people of a certain age know his name but they don’t know his work, they just know he was a film director. Even the newspapers seemed to know very little as they had two or four lines in English saying "he was a director, he died". I assume the Thai language media did a little better, but for what it’s worth, here is a proper piece on him with some proper information in English language.

Kom started out as an actor in romantic films sometime in the early 1970s. The films included Preungnee Chan Ja Rak Koon (Tomorrow I Will Love You, 1972 ) and Krai Ja Rong Hai Pue Chan ("Who will cry for me?", 1974 ). He wasn’t so keen on the romances though. In his heart he was an action man. In 1974 he got a part in the action film Tida Payayom (Daughter of the God of Death) and there was no turning back.

Really, he wanted to be an action film director and so he founded Coliseum films in late 1974. In March 1975 his first film Plan Kreung Sood Tai (Rob the Last Time) was released.

Over the next few years he became one of the most popular directors in the country and a man of some import as he served as the head of the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand, which led to him visiting other countries tending to his duties. This led to him having an international eye on the movie industry and he made some of the best action films Thailand has ever seen including Pao Kon (Lay Down and Fire, 1976) starring Sombat Metanee and Sooa Pookow (Tiger Mountain, 1979).

In 1982 he managed to perform a real coup by getting two of the legends of Hong Kong action cinema, Norman Tsui Siu Keung and David Chiang Dai Wai of the Shaw Brothers studio to star in two of his films. Pet Tat Yok (Diamond Cuts Jade) saw Tsui as a Chinese man in Thailand who had to square off against Sorapong Chatree, and Payak Likay (Cruel Tiger of Likay) saw Tsui as the villain and Chiang as Sorapong’s heroic sidekick. This film also has the status of being the earliest known work of a young enthusiastic stuntman named Panna Rittikrai. He went on to become the mentor of Tony Jaa.

Sadly, Thai audiences got bored of Thai action deciding instead to watch clowns and ghosts. Kom moved into television, adapated Pet Tat Yok and Payak Likay for TV and later producing some original shows. He also opened his successful chain of cinemas in the South of Thailand.

The majority of the films Kom's Coliseum studio are unavailable today. A few that were released on video and VCD in the past are available as bootlegs if you know the right people. I have a few, but most of the older films are impossible to find. Only his last movie Lob Pee Pee Mai Lob (Ghost Doesn’t Want To Be Seen, 2003) is easily available. The majority of his work is sadly lost to the sands of time.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Akkadej once in 2010 at his office near Ramkamhang in Bangkok. At the time I had only seen three of his films and I had always meant to go back and interview him once I knew more about them, but since they remained so hard to find, I never did get back.

When I asked him how he got David Chiang and Norman Tsui to be in his films his simple response with a grin – "I asked them". He was a very matter-of-fact person who didn’t mince his words. I am sad to say that all that remains of his old films were a few photos and trailers he kept at his office, he didn’t retain the original elements of any of them. He didn’t even have copies of the films or any posters. But he shared his trailers and photos with me freely and still laughed at his own work.

I took my posters of Pet Tat Yok and Payak Lee Gey to ask for his autograph to which he was rather shocked as even he didn’t have the posters. He asked me where I got them and how much I paid and were they real or copies? As he signed them he commented that I am the only person who asked for his autograph. I don’t know if he was being sarcastic. I didn’t ask for a photo with him as I planned to do that when I interviewed him. I shall be kicking myself about that forever more.

He was a very open and friendly man who was like a kid who never grew up. Working in entertainment was his playground and he seemed to enjoy it very much.  Despite not knowing me and never having met me before, he gave me his time generously and he with the help of his English speaking assistant answered my silly questions and even took the time to hand write a list of every film he could remember making with titles and dates. I can’t stress enough how nice he was.

As with many others, he was a good filmmaker who deserved a lot more respect and recognition than he ever received and didn’t deserve to be cast aside and forgotten as he has been. He will be remembered by many as "that director who made films we never saw", which is sad as judging from what little is left of his work he was one of the best directors Thailand ever had.

There is a memorial service being held for him today (Friday, August 10) at Wat Tatong on Sukhumvit Road next to Ekamai BTS station at 5pm. Please feel free to come if you can and say a last farewell to one of Thailand’s forgotten sons.

James Marshall is an Englishman who is an Asian film expert and historian who currently resides in Bangkok where he is working hard on writing a book about Thai movies. More news on that soon.

Pao Kon (Lay Down and Fire, 1976)

More Thai-Lao romance and more Dan Worrawech

Director Sakchai Deenan wrapped up his trilogy of Thai-Lao romances last year with Lao Wedding but now the Sabaidee Luang Prabang director is back at it, making another cross-border romance in the same vein.

In Always on My Mind (คิดถึงทุกคืน, Khid Tueng Took Khuen), he pairs Thai actors Pawarith Mongkolpisit and Sirachat Jianthaworn with Lao actresses Nuta Rajwonglao and Sangdawee Malisomchai.

It's in limited release in Bangkok, screening at around 7.30 or 8 nightly at the Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada.

Check out the trailer embedded below.

Also opening this week in Thai cinemas is Sat2Mon, a.k.a. Saturday Night to Monday Morning (คืนวันเสาร์ถึงเช้าวันจันทร์, Khuen Wan Sao Thueng Chao Wan Jan).

It stars "Dan" Worrawech Danuwong, the multi-hyphenate musician and actor who adds writer-director to his roster of titles with this romantic comedy released by Sahamongkolfilm International.

Dan got his start 12 years ago as a member of the boyband trio D2B. He's been the star of seemingly dozens of romantic comedies that have been huge hits, among them Noodle Boxer, 32 Thunwa and Bangkok Sweety. He's even done drama, with last year's musical romance The Melody.

According to The Nation's Soopsip column today, Dan took a year off from music while he wrote the screenplay and prepared to make Sat2Mon, honing his directorial chops by helming music videos and a TV show.

He stars in Sat2Mon as a TV producer in love with an anchorwoman (Niranat Victoria Coates), and he convinces her friend (Ungsumalynn Sirapatsakmetha) to help him woo her, but things of course become complicated.

There's an English-subtitled trailer for this one, embedded below.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In memoriam: Kom Akkadej

Actor Kom Akkadej (คมน์ อรรฆเดช), the producer and director of a string of action films in the 1970s and early '80s, has died.

News reports say the former president of the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand died today of heart failure. He was 64.

Kom also owned the Coliseum theater chain in southern Thailand.

Several of Kom's movies were shown as part of a tribute at the 2010 Phuket Film Festival.

He made around 12 action movies and dramas from 1975 to 1987. According to ThaiFilmDb.com, he was also an actor in around eight films from 1971 to 1975. He also directed several TV series.

Among his feature films was 1979's The Mountain Lion (เสือภูเขา), a gritty action-adventure drama that starred Sorapong Chatree in one of his many "ethnic" roles. Jarunee Suksawat also starred, playing the plucky hilltribe heroine.

His other films included 1982's Diamond Cuts Jade (เพชรตัดเพชร), an ambitious Hong Kong co-production that starred Norman Tsui Siu Keung, and 1983's The Opera Hero (พยัคฆ์ยี่เก, Payak Yeekay, literally “The tiger of Thai song and dance theatre”).

Another of his iconic movies is 1985's Tubtim Tone (ทับทิมโทน). The poster features jumpsuit-clad leading man Bin Binluerit blasting off with a rocket pack, an image that was featured on the cover of film historian Dome Sukwong's book "A Century of Thai Cinema".

Sadly, many of Kom's films have been lost due to lack of archiving, among them Tubtim Tone.

Update: Religious rites will be on Friday, August 10 at 5pm at Wat Tatong, next to Ekamai BTS station in Bangkok.

(Via Veen_NT)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mahachai shrimp pickers go Overseas to Locarno

Switzerland's celebrated Locarno Film Festival is on, screening movies from all over the world, with the centerpiece venue being the 8,800-seat open-air Piazza Grande.

Among the selection in the fest's 65th edition are two from Thailand.

One of them is Mekong Hotel from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who also heads the main competition jury that awards the Golden Leopards.

And there's Overseas, a short by Anocha Suwichakornpong and Wichanon Sumumjarn, who recently won a prize in India's Osian's Cinefan fest for his debut feature, In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire. Apichatpong's Mekong Hotel was also featured at the New Delhi fest.

Overseas (โพ้นทะเล, Pohn Talay) is a 16-minute drama that's set in Mahachai, a river-port town not far from Bangkok that's known for its unique market on the railroad tracks.

It is home to the seafood industry, which employs vast numbers of mainly Myanmar migrant laborers who work at the tedious chore of processing shrimp and other seafood.

Here is where the story of Overseas takes place:

Wawa Kai, a Burmese immigrant worker, wakes up, brushes her teeth and takes a cold shower. She goes to work at a factory where she grades squids and shrimps according to their sizes. But today she is not feeling well and has to take the afternoon off to report a crime.

There's a trailer at the Electric Eel YouTube Channel, and it's embedded below.

Speaking of trailers, Locarno is also showing 20 Little Films, a compilation of trailers for the Vienna film festival, including Empire by Apichatpong.

The Locarno festival runs until Saturday.

Monday, August 6, 2012

In April wins special mention in New Delhi

Wrapped up on Sunday, the Osian's Cinefan festival was back from a two-year hiatus this year, with four Thai films in the program, among them Wichanon Sumumjarn's debut feature In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire (สิ้นเมษาฝนตกมาปรอยปรอย, Sin Mesa Fon Tok Ma Proy Proy, a.k.a. Like Raining at the End of April), which won a special mention in the best first feature competition.

Upcoming screenings for In April include a limited Bangkok release from September 13 to 26 at House cinema, and a run in Washington at the Smithsonian.

Lekha Shankar was in New Delhi for the Osian's fest, and she sent this report.

Story and photos by Lekha Shankar, New Delhi

Young Thai director Wichanon Somumjarn won a special mention in the Best First Film category at the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Indian, Asian and Arab Cinema, which concluded on Sunday in New Delhi.

The pioneering film festival, which started the trend of Asian-Arab festivals more than a decade back, made a comeback this year after a two-year break, and judging by the huge audiences, remains one of the most important film festivals in the country and the Indian capital city’s only one.

The festival has introduced most of the Thai "new wave" filmmakers to India, and this year’s festival had four noteworthy movies from Thailand, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Mekong Hotel, Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Headshot and Tanwarin Sukkhapisit’s It Gets Better.

Wichanon’s debut feature In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire combines a personal tale with political overtones of the red-shirt riots and fires in Bangkok in 2010. It won the award for its “reflective weaving together of image and reality, memories and desires, and the inner and the outer world of its protagonist through delicate situations and subtle humour, in the backdrop of social flux”, according to a high-powered jury that included top South Korean director Jeon Kyu-hwan.

Wichanon, whose feature premiered at the prestigious Rotterdam festival, said he never expected to win the award in a section that comprised of talented filmmakers from seven countries, but was delighted to win a prize in the country like India that produced the most number of films.

Among the two short films that the young director has made before his debut feature, his Four Boys, White Whiskey and Grilled Mouse had won an award at the well-known Tampere Film Festival in Finland in 2010.

Earlier this year, In April won the Film Critics Guild's Prize at the 10th International Festival of Film Debuts "Spirit of Fire"  in Siberia, and will now be screened at festivals in Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Game on! 14 Beyond manga posted online

One of the mostly eagerly awaited and asked about Thai movies yet to come is the thriller 14 Beyond, Chookiat Sakveerakul's sequel to 2006's 13 Beloved (13 เกมสยอง, 13 Game Sayong), a.k.a. 13: Game of Death.

In development for the past several years, 14 Beyond keeps getting put off for one reason or another, but with the release earlier this year of Chookiat's deeply personal family drama Home, word is that 14 Beyond is definitely his next project.

Based on a comic book by Ekkasith Thairath, Chookiat is collaborating on 14 Beyond with the writer-artist, and they've started things off by offering a manga version of the tale online at Commuan, Chookiat's production company's website.

Termed "the beginning of the end of the epic 14 Beyond," there's even an English version.

The story dovetails with a crucial scene in 13 Beloved and introduces a young biker character who finds a mysterious phone that he can't shut off.

The comic panels could very well also be storyboards for the forthcoming film. Looks great so far.

(Via Deknang)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

36, an experiment in self-releasing

Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit is the maker of such noted shorts as Bangkok Tanks and Cherie is Korean Thai.

In the past few years, he's broken into the mainstream industry as a screenwriter on several projects with the GTH studio, including last year's hit The Billionaire and the romance that's currently in cinemas, Seven Something.

He also has his own project in Bangkok cinemas, the medium-length feature 36, an experimental effort composed of 36 shots that is described as a "relationship movie that touches on melancholic memories and old buildings". It's about a movie-studio location scout who looks back on a relationship she had with a co-worker the year before, after a computer malfunction erases the photos she took with him.

Taking a page from the book of the Third Class Citizen film-activist group he started, he's been self-releasing 36 for the past month or so, organizing screenings at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, the Alliance Francais and now at House. He's been promoting the screenings through the social networks and the Thai media, and most sessions have sold out, enabling him to recoup the costs of making the film.

It's at House on RCA, showing at 1.45pm and 5.15pm until Sunday.

Meanwhile, there's Interiors a full-length feature that's yet to come from Nawapol.

Thai animation enters the 3D age with Echo Planet

Thai animation is back in the news after a hiatus of a few years, making history this week with Echo Planet (เอคโค่ จิ๋วก้องโลก, Echo Jew Kong Loke), the first Thai animated feature to be released in stereoscopic 3D.

It's the latest effort by Kompin Kemkumnird, who made his debut as a director with 2006's Khan Kluay. Thailand's first computer-animated feature, it's the tale of a little tusker who would become the brave war elephant of King Naresuan the Great. Despite its very nationalistic historical storyline, Khan Kluay attracted overseas buyers and made a name for Kantana Animation.

It also spawned a sequel, Khan Kluay II, that was released in 2009, but Kompin wasn't really involved with it. A veteran of animated features at Disney and Blue Sky Studios, Kompin was busy researching his next project, Echo Planet.

It aims for even broader international appeal with an environmentally themed story about a gifted Karen boy who can talk to animals and his tough older sister who wears the traditional Karen neck-stretching rings. They rescue a foreigner boy scout who is the son of the president of Capital State. The three of then set off on an adventure in which they have to stop a project that will cause environmental havoc.

Echo Planet appears to be another landmark for the Thai animation industry, which has moved in fits and starts over the course of decades. The first Thai animated feature was 1979's The Adventure of Sudsakorn by Payut Ngaokrachang. Animation is labor-intensive, and penny-pinching Thai studios figured they could make live-action movies cheaper. So altough there are many Thai animated shorts and TV shows, there wasn't another animated feature until 2006's Khan Kluay. That was quickly followed by the ghost tale Nak and Buddha, Khan Kluay II. Also due out this year is the fantasy Yak, a project from Workpoint Entertainment.

Read more about Echo Planet in a Nation article today.

There's a few different trailers and music videos to promote the film, and the "action version" is embedded below.

A dose of mother's milk in Ka Nam Nom

Social-problem dramas used to be a large component of the Thai film industry back in the 1970s and '80s, the heyday of MC Chatrichalerm Yukol.

You don't see them so much these days, but this week in Thai cinemas there's Ka Nam Nom (ค่าน้ำนม), which literally means "mother's milk".

The motherhood drama comes out just before the August 12 Queen's Birthday and Thai Mother's Day holiday, and seeks to get back to the roots of social-problem movies.

Chudapha Chanthakhet stars as a widowed single mother who struggles to raise her boy and girl, and hopes they will rise from their hardscrabble, small-town roots and have better lives.

Full of promise, the good brother and sister head to Bangkok for schooling, but end up getting caught up in all the various problems that come with life in the big city, such as gang fights and drugs.

Teerapat Yamsri and Uttama Chiwanichpan star as the brother and sister. Nati Phunmanee directs. He previously did such low-budget horror comedies and action flicks like Ja-Ae ... Goi Laew Jaa (จ๊ะเอ๋... โกยแล้วจ้า) and Ha Teaw. It's released by Pacific Island Films, which was behind the fairly acclaimed teenage drugs drama Sam Chuk a few years ago.

Check out the trailer, embedded below.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Heaven and Hell (Wong Jorn Pid)

  • Directed by Yuthlert Sippapak and Tiwa Moeithaisong
  • Released in Thai cinemas on July 12, 2012; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Yuthlert Sippapak is renowned for his penchant for mixing genres in his films. And he can't restrain himself from leaping from suspense to comedy to drama and back again to suspense even in a short film. His crazy genre-bending yields mixed results in Heaven and Hell (Wong Jorn Pid, วงจรปิด), a trio of "found footage" horror shorts purportedly taken from security cameras.

Here, Yuthlert collaborates with Tiwa Moeithaisong, who's been his cinematographer on his past several features. Yuthlert directs two of the segments, while Tiwa chips in with one.

It's Tiwa's segment, Ghost Legacy, that opens the movie. And it's the most stylish of the trio, processed in black and white and given a grainy appearance. Apart from the sophisticated angles, which are explained anyway, it really does look like it came from a security cam. It sounds like security camera footage too – it's a "silent" film, with spooky sound effects and intertitles for the dialogue

The action takes place in a creepy old mansion where a pair of Siamese twins are visiting. Apparently, their grandfather has died and they are there to hear his last will and testament. The timeline jumps all over the place, and mainly focuses on a corrupt plainclothes police detective investigating murders in the mansion, but what he's really looking for is a cache of gold. Of course, the ghosts in this mansion have other ideas.

Yuthlert's segments do away with the silent-film treatment, switching to sound and color. They also reveal the ultra-low budget of the project, with ghosts and ghouls in obvious makeup and low-tech effects. But that only makes it more fun.

Heaven 11 takes place in a convenience store, where three clerks have been killed. A policeman – Yuthlert's long-time cop and partner-in-crime Adirek "Uncle" Wattleela – is overseeing the scene and letting in a comical pair of security camera technicians in. While the technicians are working, they find the ghosts of the clerks on the closed-circuit screens and are freaked out.

Next, a young woman in a school uniform arrives to work at the store, which it turns out her father owns. She's going through a break-up with her boyfriend, and is working her iPhone to talk to her friends while she finds herself haunted by the ghosts, one of which hung herself above the cashier's counter. And it seems like the hanged woman's spirit is trying to get others to follow her.

Heaven 11 is the most uneven and confusing of the segments. The annoying shrieking schoolgirl doesn't help. The arrival of another clerk, who appears to be a zombie, is actually a relief.

The comical security camera technicians reappear in the last segment, Hell No. 8, where they are servicing the camera in a scuzzy, broken-down elevator that's haunted by the ghost of a woman who was fatally stabbed. The elevator only travels from the first floor to the eighth floor, and all men who get in the elevator are haunted by the violent female ghost – women are immune from the scary spirit.

There's plenty of laughs as the ghost girl jumps back and forth in front of the elevator door, in and out of the frame, to frighten the occupants inside the lift.

As scattershot Heaven and Hell is in terms of style and genre, there's an overarching theme of feminism, with strong female roles in Yuthlert's segments – the girl ghosts get their revenge.

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