Thursday, May 22, 2008

Short films for HM the King going to Toronto

The nine films from the Short Films Project in Commemoration of the Celebration on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary are going to Toronto next month for the Worldwide Short Film Festival, which runs June 10 to 15.

Co-programmed by Todd Brown of
Twitch, the Toronto screenings will be the first time the package of all nine shorts has been exhibited outside Thailand.

The project gathered together several of Thailand's great filmmakers, including Bhandit Rittakol, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Wisit Sasanatieng and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Created last year in celebration of His Majesty King Bhumibol's 80th birthday, the shorts are widely varied in subject matter and style -- fantasy, rural reverie, drama, a puppet play and documentary. Not all have anything specifically to do with HM the King.

Pen-ek's Luminous Sound, for example, is an interview with a blind pianist. Pen-ek said he was aiming to make a movie he thought the King might enjoy watching. Of course, the pianist plays some of the musically gifted Monarch's compositions.

Wisit's piece is Norasinghavatar, an eye-popping martial-arts fantasy based on myths surrounding one of the ten reincarnations of Lord Visanhu. They look like CGI animation but they are not. They are live action, heavily processed in Wisit's colorful style in post-production.

Apichatpong's Meteorites is another stand-out, just because it is so different -- "an at times unsettling, often hypnotic, and intimately honest look at daily life."

The other works are My First Report by Bhandit Rittakol, about a young female reporter stuck on an assignment in a rural, drought-stricken village; The Tale by Pornsak Sukongkarattanakul about a mule that the King rode; Silencio by Sivaroj Kongsakul, about a sound man vainly trying to record silence; The Most Beautiful Man in the World by Phuttipong Aroonpheng about a boy and his father, working to stake off some land to make way for a Royal Project irrigation dam; 9th Gift by Araya Booncherd, a hilarious hand-puppet play in which a young man and his dog vanquish an evil two-headed dragon; The Sanctuary of Sea by Pramtanee Wongprommed and Supharut Boonmayam, about a deaf high school student struggling with her studies.

I had hoped the package might be distributed on DVD, but it hasn't yet, though Thai PBS (the former iTV) periodically shows the films, with subtitles, though the picture is mostly obscured by market tickers and logos. And excerpts from the films are sometimes included in Thai film industry show reels. But Toronto will be the first chance for folks outside the Kingdom to see all the films together.

See also:

(Via Twitch; photo from Wisit Sasanatieng's Norasinghavatar via Twitch)

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