Friday, December 17, 2004

Big names for Bangkok International Film Festival

Bangkok's biggest, glitziest film festival, the Bangkok International Film Festival, will be held from January 13 to 24.

The organiser, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, is throwing around some big names to get people excited about what is one of at least three competing festivals held in Bangkok each year.

Among the celebs said to be attending are Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irons, Sigourney Weaver, Colin Farrell, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joel Schumacher, Bruce Beresford, Kevin Spacey, Penelope Cruz and Francis Ford Coppola.

About 150 movies have been selected, including 16 Thai films, among them 2004’s top-grosser, the slick thriller, Shutter. No word on what some of the other Thai films will be.

Shutter will be in competition with acclaimed movies like Old Boy (the Cannes’ Grand Prix winner), Clean (which won Maggie Cheung the Cannes’ Best Actress award ), The Motorcycle Diaries and Spain’s The Sea Inside.

The festival will be spread across Bangkok, encompassing the Apex cinemas, Major Cineplex Central World Plaza, Grand EGV and SFX the Emporium. Even the little boutique art cinema House has been drafted to screen films for next year's festival.

The festival warms up on January 8 with an open-air screening in Benjasiri Park of The Sound of Music, complete with sing-along subtitles. The show starts at 8pm.

The opener is Red Dust, a post-apartheid courtroom drama that stars Hillary Swank as the lawyer of a promising South African politician (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who confronts a police officer who tortured him years earlier.

Among the celebs, Joel Schumacher will received a Golden Kinnaree Award for Career Achievement. His Phantom of the Opera will have its Southeast Asian premiere on January 20 at the festival. It's the second year the award has been bestowed.

In 2004, the career Kinnaree went to Oliver Stone, who just happened to be in Thailand anyway, filming Alexander. Related to that, the recipient of the festival's Crystal Lens Award will be presented to Rodrigo Pietro for his body of work including Alexander.

Many of Schumacher's films also will be screened in a tribute category, including Veronica Guerin, Tigerland, Phone Booth, Bad Company, Batman and Robin, A Time to Kill, Falling Down, Dying Young, Cousins, The Lost Boys and St Elmo’s Fire. Actors from a number of these films will participate in the tribute.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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