Saturday, May 10, 2008

Queen of Langkasuka, Som Tum to premiere at Cannes Film Market

Nonzee Nimibutr’s long-awaited historical fantasy, Queen of Langkasuka, will finally have its premiere, at the Cannes Film Market, alongside many other Thai films, including Som Tum, the action comedy starring Nathan Jones and two little Thai girls.

Queen of Langkasuka is an epic tale, involving rebel pirates, battling princesses, magical sea gypsies and giant whales. Stars include Ananda Everingham, Dan Chupong and Winai Kraibutr. Initially called Queens of Pattani, it has been in production since around 2005, and its promotional reel has been a staple of the film market for the past couple of years. Now the Marche du Film crowds will finally get to see the whole thing. It opens in Thailand on August 12.

Som Tum, meanwhile, is a sort-of food-themed spin-off of Tom Yum Goong, keeping the immense wrestler Nathan Jones and swapping out Tony Jaa for a couple of little girls. Jones portrays a timid, homeless Australian in Bangkok who is rescued from street thugs by the two girls (Narawan Techaratanaprasert and the girl Muay Thai fighter from Born to Fight). They feed him the extra spicy papaya salad of the title and he turns into an incredible red-hued hulk. You can watch the trailer here. It's hilarious. Som Tum is now set to open in Thailand on June 5.

Queen and Som Tum join Princess Ubol Ratana's Where the Miracle Happens, Ekachai Uekrongtham's horror film, The Coffin and DeWarrenne Productions' Anglo-Thai hybrid, Soi Cowboy, which are also making premieres at Cannes. In addition to Film Market screenings, Soi Cowboy is an official selection in the Un Certain Regard competition.

On a spreadsheet provided to me, other scheduled market screenings will be GMM Tai Hub's highly entertaining horror anthology 4Bia, as well as the slick Body. The indie psychological thriller, The 8th Day is also being shown (handled by GTH). Five Star Production will show Art of the Devil 3, The Screen at Kamchanod and Muay Thai Chaiya. RS Film has its family friendly kindergarten tug-of-war comedy Dream Team. In addition to Queen and Som Tum, Sahamongkol will show its cute cartoon Nak. And Memento Films has Wonderful Town, which is already screening commercially in France.

Films in the development or production stages that are likely being shopped include something called Ex by Piyapan Choophet for RS Film; Fireball, the Muay Thai basketball project by Opapatika director Thanakorn Pongsuwan; Happy Birthday, the upcoming romantic drama by Pongpat Wachirabunjong for Mono Film; and the foreign stuntmen extravaganza Bangkok Andrenaline.

And that is not all for the Thai presence at Cannes. As in past years, the Thai government will sponsor the Thailand Pavilion. Traditionally organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, this year it's Commerce Minister Mingkwan Saengsuwan who is throwing the party, with help from the Thailand Film Office, the Department of Export Promotion, the Ministry of Culture, the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture and the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand. Their bash is from 3 to 6pm on Saturday, May 17 at Village International, Pavilion No. 134.

I wonder if a certain Cannes Film Festival juror has been invited to attend?

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