Monday, February 23, 2015

Memory! fest has sweet treat for Bangkok

Sugar Is Not Sweet (น้ำตาลไม่หวาน, Namtan Mai Wan), a hyper-colorful romantic comedy by Thai cinema's pioneering auteur, R.D. Pestonji, is among a selection of classic films set to screen in the Memory! International Film Heritage Festival from February 26 to March 6 in Bangkok.

From 1965, Sugar Is Not Sweet was the final feature from Pestonji, and is one of his more-personal efforts with its reflection on his own Indian heritage. Starring Sombat Metanee in one of his early leading roles, the story is about the slacker son of a Chinese-Thai businessman who has promised his boy's hand in marriage to the orphaned daughter of his late Indian business partner. But the guy doesn't want to marry a "roti" (a racist colloquialism). He's rather stay with his vain gold-digging Thai girlfriend.

Alternating venues between the Alliance Francaise in Bangkok and the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, the Memory! festival will screen 11 films in all.

The selection includes three by the masters of the silent era, The Circus by Charles Chaplin, Safety Last by Harold Lloyd, and, in a fitting tie-in with the Film Archive's own steam locomotive, Buster Keaton's The General.

Under the theme of "Laughter!" the fest also has a tribute to French comedy kings Jacques Tati and Pierre Etaix with Tati's Playtime and Etaix' Happy Anniversary and The Great Love.

Another entry is 1955's The Ladykillers, the classic Ealing Studio comedy directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring Alec Guinness in a positively sinister turn as the leader of a gang of thieves.

And from Asia, there's Good Morning by Yasujiro Ozu and Before Rising Up the Rank, a 1965 black-and-white comedy from Mongolia's Mongol Kino studio.

Originating in Phnom Penh in 2013, the Memory! fest is supported by the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage with an aim of promoting and preserving the world's film heritage. So it's only natural that it would come to Bangkok and help bolster the Thai Film Archive's similar efforts.

Admission is free, though online reservations are recommended. For the schedule and more details, please see a recent article in The Nation or check the festival's Facebook page.

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