Thais get a peek over the backyard fence in the Bangkok Asean Film Festival, put together by the Culture Ministry and the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand.
Running until Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld in Bangkok, the selection has a bit of something for all tastes.
For broad comedies, there’s the romantic farce What’s So Special About Rina? from Brunei and, if you like Thai TV comedies, then you’ll probably like Huk Ey Ly 2 (Really Love 2) from Laos, which is put together by musician and TV star Jear Pacific.
The Last Reel from Cambodia reflects on that country’s cinematic golden age of the 1960s and early ’70s, and features one of that era’s big stars, actress Dy Saveth. Other much-acclaimed dramas are Bwaya from the Philippines, Siti from Indonesia, 1021 from Singapore and Golden Kingdom from Myanmar. Edgy offerings come from Vietnam, with the gay drama Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories, while I'm hoping to check out the Malaysian entry, Flower in Pocket director Liew Sieng Tat's darkly comic satire Men Who Save the World.
And Thailand looks to the South with the drama Latitude 6, with various stories of religious and cultural conflict against the backdrop of restiveness in the three southernmost provinces.
Many screenings will have question-and-answer sessions with the directors, so stick around.
After Bangkok, the fest moves to SFX Maya Chiang Mai from next Friday to September 6, SF Cinema City Khon Kaen from September 10 to 13 and SF Cinema City Surat Thani from September 17 to 20.
Free tickets are handed out 30 minutes before the shows. Further details about the films are at Bangkok Cinema Scene. For the schedule, check SFcinemacity.com.
There are also two mainstream romantic comedies in general release. One is Khon Oak Hak (คน.อก.หัก, a.k.a. Love H2O), in which a young woman named Naam (Natpapas Thanathanamaharat) is the editor of a romance magazine. Her own love life turns rocky after her long-time boyfriend ditches her for someone else.
She wants to find the perfect guy to take to her ex’s wedding and has a choice between old friend Doc (Tony Rakkaen), diplomat Joe (Navin Yavapollkul) or property tycoon Ohm (Ananda Everingham). Sutthasit Detinthonnarak (Club Friday: The Series) directs.
And in 367 Won: Him and Her (367 วัน Him and Her), Tine (Chonluedee Amornlak) and Hade (Khanut Rojanai) have been a couple since high school.
Now graduated from college, Tine is set to head overseas, and she breaks up with Hade rather than have him wait for her to return. Thirawat Phadungkan directs.
Oh hey, here's a holdover from last week, Love Love You อยากบอกให้รู้...ว่ารัก (Love Love You Yak Bok Hai Roo Wa Rak). This is the type of indie gay Thai film that has inspired the release of other Thai gay films this year, such as P'Chai My Hero, Red Wine and the Dark Night and The Blue Hour.
Here, Blue Hour leading man Atthaphan Poonsawawas stars as a young man named Gump who feels the Earth shake when meets Sun (Thanasarn Miangbua). Gump’s boyfriend Night (Narrapat Sakulsong) has meanwhile fallen for for a dude named Ball. Their friends step in to sort things out. Napat Jaitientum directs.
After one week of release, it's still playing at some Major Cineplex branches, so check the Major Cineplex website.
It's encouraging to see an indie film like Love Love You still hanging around. Other Thai films, such as the recently released big-studio effort Joe Hua Tangmo, haven't been so lucky, and get bounced out of cinemas so fast no one has a chance to see them.