Monday, June 7, 2004

All business in Cannes

As a sidebar to the Cannes Film Festival, Thailand was marketing itself -- its films, its film festivals and its locations. That a Thai director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, won the jury prize for his film, Tropical Malady, was icing on this French pastry.

Now, according to a Nation business article, new Grammy-affiliated company TIFA, which invested 10 million baht (about US$250,000) in Tropical Malady, hopes to capitalise on the award through its international release.

Celluloid Dreams, the movie's international distributor, would definitely benefit from the Cannes prize, the article said.

Thai production houses are encouraged by the film's Cannes success and they said other Thai movies shown there in a sidebar Thai film business fair, also went down well.

"This is the first time we've come to Cannes and we were encouraged by the good response to Thai films there," Boonyo Saechang of production house Han Media Culture Co, told The Nation.

Several festival directors were in Cannes on the look out for Thai films, including Giorgio Ginori (Rome Festival), Phillip Cheah (Singapore International Film Festival), Neelam Kapoor (International Film Festival of India) and Hugo Van Belle (Mexico festival), the article said.

Cannes also proved a happy hunting ground for local industry figures.

Suchart Vudthivichai of the Apex Cinema, Bangkok's arthouse theatre, told The Nation he procured an interesting range of big and small films from Cannes.

Kriengsak "Victor" Silakong, director of the World Film Festival of Bangkok and Craig Prater (not Palmer as the article states), director of the Bangkok International Film Festival, reported a good response from foreign distributors to their respective events.

At a reception, sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thailand further enhanced its standing as a film location.

TAT Governor Juthamas Siriwan described the Kingdom as a rapidly developing location for film shoots. Screen International magazine called Thailand "paradise found" in reference to its scenic spots, crews that are 50 percent cheaper than in the US, and excellent production and rental facilities.

Some 388 foreign productions, including 18 feature films, were shot in Thailand last year, generating revenue of $31 million (Bt1.3 billion). They included Oliver Stone's Alexander and Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason.

Indian production house Sunstone Entertainment shot the film in Bangkok and said several more Thai projects were in the pipeline.

"The warm hospitality and low costs are attractive - Bangkok will explode for Indian film shoots," Sanjay Jumani of Sunstone Entertainment was quoted as saying.

Kulthep Nirula, of Bangkok-based Benetone Films, said the Bt180-million Bollywood film No Entry would start filming in Bangkok this month. Its cast includes stars Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan and former Miss Universe, Lara Dutta.

India's Mughal Subhash Ghai, who came to Cannes to promote his $6-million bilingual film Kisna, said he hoped to launch joint productions with Thai companies.

Meanwhile, the Pang Brothers announced that their new $5-million thriller Re-Cycle would be shot in Bangkok soon.

Cannes attracted 7,000 delegates from 63 countries this year, The Nation article said.

Several other Thai films were screened there, the article said. I can only think this was as part of the sidebar reception held by TAT -- not as part of the festival program. The screenings included recent releases like The Overture, Siam Renaissance and Beautiful Boxer.

Upcoming releases The Sin, The Re-Maker and Sars Wars were also previewed.

Production houses including Grammy, Five Star Entertainment, Sahamongkol, Film Bangkok and Siam Films were represented.

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