Thursday, October 16, 2008

Diseases, Soi Cowboy, Wonderful Town in Vienna

The Vienna International Film Festival, the Viennale, starts tomorrow (October 17) and runs until October 29, with three Thai films: Diseases and a Hundred Year Period, Soi Cowboy and Wonderful Town.

Diseases and a Hundred Year Period (Roke Rai Nai Rob Neung Roi Phee) is young director Sompot "Boat" Chidgasornpongse's answer film to the censorship of Syndromes and a Century, documenting the cutting of six scenes from Apichatpong Weerasethakul's celebrated feature for its limited commercial run in Thailand. Pieces of the six scenes are taken from the U.S. DVD release, and severely cropped and zoomed in. It's a brilliant commentary on the outrageous censorship of a film that was acclaimed all over the world except by the conservative cultural authorities in the director's home country. Boat served as an assistant director on Syndromes, so he was particularly close to the film. And yes, that is the back of Boat's head on the film poster and in the film. Sure to become an icon. I wrote about Diseases when it premiered as the opening film of the 12th Thai Short Film & Video Festival. It plays in Vienna on Saturday (October 18) as part of a short-film package.

Thomas Clay's Soi Cowboy played in a one-night-only, sold-out show at the Bangkok International Film Festival. It made its world premiere back in May in the Un Certain Regard program at Cannes. The Viennese get two screenings, on October 27 and 29.

And there's Aditya Assarat's Wonderful Town, continuing its run on the festival circuit. It's also at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which starts on Saturday, and its in the London Film Festival, which started yesterday (October 15) and runs until October 30.

(Thanks Boat!)


  1. Wow, that was quick, Wisekwai.
    Thank you :)

  2. I am curious to see Diseases. I saw the Strand release DVD of Syndromes, so I assume the 6 censored scenes were present in that US version?

    I have to say I loved Wonderful Town. It was my fav. film in our film festival here. I felt the film had this dreamy feel similar Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Invisible Waves. I think the mostly empty hotel setting made me think of that. Also, the scene where Ton and Na enjoy a quiet moment in the lush green field made me think of the peaceful picnic from in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Blissfully Yours, without the ants ofcourse :) But overall, I liked the film's rhythm, so balanced and in harmony.

  3. Diseases is a great companion to Syndromes. It recaps the whole ridiculously sad censorship story. The Strand release is of course uncensored. For Diseases, the scenes censored in Thailand were lifted from the Strand DVD, but are severely cropped and zoomed, mostly because of the huge subtitles that are on the Strand release.

    I've been thinking a lot about Wonderful Town lately and would like to see it again. It was the ending that made me feel giddy.

  4. Actually yes I loved the ending of Wonderful Town quite a bit. One can say that it leaves things open ended, even suggesting a dream, but there is also enough shown previously regarding the brother's warning to Ton to suggest that maybe there was a reason why things happened the way they did.

    A friend and me debated who did Ton make that phone call to before Na's brother pulled him out of the car? I think he was calling an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend and wanted to come back. My friend thought it might have been to his mother. What do you think?

    Also, in the end, when we see Na go about her day normally, we don't get to see her face close up because I wanted to know if there was sadness on her face or not. But looking from a distance, we can't see any reaction from her. So that could also confirm the dream aspect or the fact that Ton was going to leave her?

    If you see the film again, maybe you can observe Na's face in the final scenes.


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