The 13th World Film Festival of Bangkok is upon us, opening to the public on Saturday and running until November 22 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.
The schedule is available for downloading.
The opener is Snap, the latest feature from Kongdej Jaturanrasmee. Set during a time of martial law in Thailand, it's about a high-ranking military officer's daughter who is set to marry a junior military man. But before her own wedding, she heads back to her hometown for a friend's nuptials, and reconnects with her former sweetheart, who is the wedding photographer. Snap premiered in competition at the Tokyo International Film Festival. According to a story in The Nation, Snap is set for a general theatrical release in Thailand on December 31.
The opening night will also see the presentation of the festival's annual Lotus Award for lifetime achievement. This year it will go to Dome Sukvong, founder of the Thai Film Archive. A filmmaker, scholar and historian, Dome has worked tirelessly over the decades to build up the Thai Film Archive from nothing, and he's done much to raise awareness for the need for film preservation. Without his efforts, much of Thailand's film legacy would be lost.
Other Thai highlights of the WFFBKK include the award-winning Vanishing Point, the art-house psychological drama by Jakrawal Nilthramrong, which got a limited release in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago and has also been playing in Chiang Mai. The World Film Fest brings it back to Bangkok for a spin with the festival crowd.
There are at least a couple of Thai live-action shorts, among them The Young Man Who Came From Chee River (Jer Gun Muer Rao Jer Gun) by Wichanon Somumjarn, which earlier screened in Venice. It follows an upcountry debt collector as he sees to his duties. It's in the Shortwave 1 program alongside Free Falling by artist-filmmaker Namfon Udomlertlak. Described as "docu-fiction", Free Falling "traces the journey of a young women who uses the making of the film to investigate the relationship between herself and her family and to understand the complexities involved before telling her parents about her life’s 'free falling'".
Thai animation is featured in the second edition of the Franco-Thai Animation Rendezvous, which packages Thai animated shorts with French ones. The Thai entries include award winners from the 19th Thai Short Film and Video Festival. Among them are the very weird, dark and delightful Prince Johnny by Patradol Kutcharoen, the funny CG animated Breaking Zoo by Prakasit Nuansri, the football-themed Kickoff by Twatpong Tangsajjapoj, Lamp by Nareporn Winiyakul, and the heist tale The Sneaker by Chattida Ajjimakul. Others are the darkly comic Gokicha’s Love Story by Chidchanok Saengkawin, A Knight on Horse and Backward by Panupun Jungtrakarn, Fragile by Jan Bhromsuthi, LUNAe by Nuntinee Tosetharat and Trapped by Phet Thaveesak.
The World Film Fest also has many Southeast Asian films, including Teddy Soeriaatmadja's About a Woman from Indonesia. There's a tribute to past projects of Produire au Sud, the funding workshop hosted by the WFFBKK. The entries are the Filipino comedy-drama Anita's Last Cha Cha by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, which was supported by the Produire au Sud Nantes in 2010, and Liew Seng Tat's Malaysian social satire Men Who Save the World, which was backed by Produire au Sud Bangkok 2008. And most intriguing is Filipino indie stalwart Khavn de la Cruz's Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore. Just like Pen-ek Ratanaruang with Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves, Khavn got cult-favorite Japanese leading man Tadanobu Asano to be in his film, and he got Hong Kong lensman Christopher Doyle to bath it all in a bluish light.
In addition to the film festival, there are new Thai films in general release, including two gay films, Love Next Door 2 and Father and Son (Phor Lae Lukchai, พ่อและลูกชาย).
Love Next Door 2 is a sequel to a hit 2013 indie gay romantic comedy. It's about a virginal young man (Angkoon Jeenukul) who becomes the object of lust for customers at the restaurant where he works. Ratthapol Pholthabtim, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit and Jenny Panan are among the stars. Rated 18+
Father and Son, meanwhile, has a more serious tone, with its story of a gay dad who has raised his surrogate son alone after the death of his partner. The kid, weary of being bullied, seeks to break out on his own. He takes up with a guy who it turns out has a crush on the kid's dad. In limited release at CentralWorld and Esplanade Ratchada, Father and Son is rated 20-.
Another new Thai film is Tiger Women (Phromajan Suay Phan Sayong, พรหมจรรย์ สวยพันธุ์สยอง). An erotic jungle thriller, it's about a young woman who is possessed by a tiger spirit. Released by Thana Entertainment, it's directed by Atsajun Sattakovit. He previously directed a movie called Soul's Code.
And as if all that isn't enough, there's also ountry comedy. In the same cornpone vein as Yam Yasothon, Mon Love Sib Muen and Poo Bao Tai Baan E-San Indy, Sang Sudthai Khong E-Hien (แสงสุดท้ายของอีเหี่ยน) involves a country girl who comes to the city to search for her mother but ends up losing all her money and cannot return home.
Other new movies in Thai cinemas include The Gift, American Ultra and Life. They are covered at the other blog.