Sunday, October 17, 2004

Thai films everywhere you look

There's a film festival going on here in Bangkok. And it's not the only one. From Kansas City to Korea, there's a Thai film showing somewhere.

At Film Fest Kansas City, it's Last Life in the Universe. Opposites attract when a mysterious, obsessive-compulsive Japanese man in Bangkok is thrown together with a Thai woman who is everything he is not.

Eugene, Oregon put two Asian communities in the spotlight on a recent weekend. Thirty-five Cambodian-American youths from Portland demonstrated traditional dances as part of Celebrate Cambodia! at Spencer Butte Middle School. The event included dinner and a slide show on Angkor Wat.

A Thai Cultural Festival was held at the University of Oregon's Erb Memorial Union. They showed Mekhong Full Moon Party as part of the festivities. That film, by way, is available on DVD, with English subtitles, from various online dealers.

In Boston, at the Fantastic Film Fest, it's the "hellbent" Thai boxing tale, Ong-Bak.

The Muay Thai flick is also at tthe Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas. Prachya Pinkaew's film is described as being "about an unlikely boy who is compelled by a town to retrieve its beloved Buddha."

The San Diego Asian Film Festival has Ong-Bak as well.

More hard-hitting action can be found in Pittsburgh at the Three Rivers Film Festival, Nov 5-18. It's screening the historical battle epic, Bang Rajan.
Celebrates 5 Years

Arthouse sensibilities will be served at Montreal's 33th Festival du Nouveau Cinema, October 14-24, which has Tropical Malady.

Malady is also at the London Film Festival. The Telegraph has this to say about it:

The most original, audacious film in the festival comes from Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It starts as a charming, quirky romance, but then mutates into a shamanic ghost story that is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

And in Korea, at the 9th Pusan International Film Festival, October 7-18 there's Baytong, The Overture, Tropical Malady, The Letter and Macabre Case of Prom Pi Ram, screening in "A Window on Asian Cinema".

The jury was composed of 10 eminent directors, including Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Fruit Chan, from Hong Kong, according to this.

Meanwhile, back in Bangkok, a late addition to the World Film Festival schedule is a documentary from the Nation Channel, making it the only Thai documentary showing. Called Peace in the Flames of War, it chronicles the aftermath of April 28, 2004, when Muslim militants attacked government security installations in three provinces in south Thailand. The day culminated when the militants holed up inside a mosque, refusing to budge. Government forces attacked. The result was more than 100 dead militants. The documentary talks to residents of predominantly Muslim southern Thailand and asks them what they think about extremism. Many said the extremists weren't really practicing the religion, because Islam preaches peace.

There's also a selection of Thai short films. And, of course, the showing of the 1974 film, Ai Tui.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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