|Thai starlet Marsha Vadhanapanich walks hand-in-hand with China's Bai Ling on the red carpet at the second Thailand International Destination Film Festival. Photo via Twitch.|
Because of work commitments and too much hoop jumping required to obtain the free tickets, I did not attend the Thailand International Destination Film Festival.
Wrapping up on April 29 with a red-carpet awards ceremony, this is the second year the festival has been put on by the Thailand Film Office. Aiming to promote the Kingdom's production services industry, the fest comes as the sector is facing competition from Malaysia, which is keen to pony up with the much-sought-after tax incentives that Thai bureaucrats can only offer empty promises for.
Highlights included such made-in-Thailand classics as The Killing Fields and Good Morning Vietnam, as well as premieres of under-the-radar titles, such as Glory Days, about a '90s hair-metal band reuniting in Pattaya, Secret Sharer, about a ship's captain who plucks a naked Chinese woman from the sea, and Trafficker, the directorial debut of Larry Smith, cinematographer for such directors as Stanley Kubrick and Nicolas Winding Refn.
Celebs on hand for the fest included perennial red-carpet fixture Bai Ling, who was featured in The Lazarus Papers, a Bangkok-set thriller that made its premiere.
Aside from the feature films presented, the centerpiece of the festival was the Amazing Thailand Film Challenge, in which more than 100 student filmmakers were given airfare, a few nights in a hotel and a modest budget to complete short films showcasing Thailand's regions.
Coverage can be found at Screen Daily, Variety and, most thoroughly of all, Twitch.
In a related development, the South China Morning Post profiles four film industry veterans who have set up shop in Thailand – production designer Jim Newport (Brokedown Palace and the Bangkok Dangerous remake), special-effects supervisor and armorer Kevin Chisnall (Red Hill, Strike Back), producer-director Mark Hammond (Johnny Was, Pharmacide) and producer Les Nordhauser (Hellgate, that movie made in Thailand with William Hurt and Carey Elwes). Gathered together in Bangkok's comfortably posh Friese-Greene Club, they regale with stories of their Hollywood days.