Wednesday, October 1, 2008

BKKIFF '08: Festival notes part four

Ticket sales up
  • The Hollywood Reporter's Joel Gershon has filed an interesting and fact-filled wrap-up of the Bangkok International Film Festival. Among the key points is that 14,000 tickets were purchased, making for a 28% increase in festival sales over the previous year. Also, 8% of screenings were sold out and overall, 50% of the seats were filled.

Too much going on
  • Hopefully next year's festival will be scheduled so that it doesn't conflict with other major events in the capital. This year while the festival was going on, culture vultures had to make difficult choices, festival maven Lekha Shankar noted in an article for the Festival Daily News. The World Gourmet Festival was happening, and there is the International Festival of Dance and Music, which brings in world-class companies to perform ballet, contemporary dance, opera, symphonies and jazz. There was also professional tennis to watch at the ATP Thailand Open. Perhaps attendance at the film festival would have been even better if the cultural calendar was less crowded. Closer coordination and cooperation between the film festival and the Thailand Entertainment Expo is also needed.

Anger over subtitles
  • The Thai subtitles are attributed for the boost in ticket sales, and the system mostly worked well. But there was one incident at the screening of the New Zealand docu-drama Rain of the Children, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When the subtitle system malfunctioned, director Vincent Ward "grew so incensed", he went to the back of the theater, grabbed the projector and threw it at the operator. There were no injuries, and, apparently, no charges were filed with police. Ward later apologized.
  • There were also technical problems with the Thai subtitles at Sunday morning's screening of the Malaysian film Days of Turquoise Sky. Festival staffers were working feverishly to fix them, and got them going about 10 or 20 minutes into the film. Nobody got angry, and no projectors were thrown.

No spending on stars
  • Around US$2 million was spent on this year's festival, with no cash outlayed to fly in Hollywood stars to add glamour to the red-carpet galas as in past years. Says festival director Jaruek Kaljareuk:

We felt that money spent on stars, their entourages, fees and expenses would be better spent elsewhere. The international guests we did invite came without fees or even food expenses, and came with the sole motivation of supporting the festival. I am particularly grateful to them."

  • There were some stars this year, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose latest film JCVD was a late addition to the festival lineup. Armande Assante also strutted the red carpet and posed for pictures, as did young starlet Arielle Kebbel. Veteran producer Roger Corman was here to take part in a seminar on producing. Van Damme is a regular visitor to Thailand - he's said to be setting up some kind of business venture in Phuket. I'm not sure what Assante and Kebbel were doing, other than just being happy to be here, and everyone was happy to have them.

Final word, for now
  • I think the commitment to provide Thai subtitles and the decreased emphasis on red carpets and celebrities is a step in the right direction for the Bangkok International Film Festival. Put on a great festival that is well attended by the locals, and stars from all over will willingly follow. Anyway, I go to film festivals to watch movies, that's all. Sure, it's nice to meet directors and actors, and talk with friends and colleagues about the films we've seen. But the hoopla over galas, stars, tuxedos, gowns, cocktail parties and banquets is a mostly annoying distraction. I suppose they are a necessary evil of showbiz though.

(Photo via by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

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