Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cannes '09: Festival notes part 5

You want me to do what?
"Gybzy" Wanida Termthanaporn and Pen-Ek Ratanaruang are featured in a series of photos in yesterday's "In Pictures" feature from Cannes on the BBC website. The shots are by Agence France-Presse's Francois Guillot, and they all aren't that goofy. Also posing for the photo call for Wednesday's screening of Nang Mai (Nymph) were Pen-ek's long-time cinematographer Charnkit Chamnivikaipong and lead actor Nopachai Jayanama. Watch their work in the trailer, if you want. More pix from the photo call are here and here and here. Bangkok 1080 comments that Pen-ek and Gybzy looked uncomfortable, and perhaps the denim-shorts-clad Gybzy did need something to cover her legs. But when the camera moves in for a close up on her face, watch out. Then it's easy to see why the singer from Girly Berry is Pen-ek's new muse. Anyway, it's nice to see the Un Certain Regard selection not being completely overshadowed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and the rest of the Inglorious Basterds.

Nymph a ploy
One of the first reviews I've found for Nymph comes from Todd Brown of Twitch, who seems underwhelmed. He writes: "Nymph bears roughly the same relationship to his previous film Ploy as his Invisible Waves did to Last Life in the Universe. Both Last Life and Ploy marked first forays into a new style of film, forays quickly followed up by second movements meant - at least in part - to push deeper into that style of filmmaking, with several key elements and the basic style of shooting repeated. But, unfortunately, the second shot at the new style in both Invisible Waves and Nymph is just simply not as successful as the first steps were." I didn't want to read much further than that. On Twitter, IonCinema writes: "Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Nymph (2 stars). Nice composition, love the earth and human connection theme -- just wish story wasn't hollow." I'll be keeping an eye out for a Day 8 update on the IonCinema website.

ASEAN Cinema
Kong Rithdee gives a mid-festival report in yesterday's Bangkok Post, "The Importance of Cannes" (cache). Apart from the broader issues of why the most prestigious cinema event on the planet and cinema in general are meaningful, Kong points out quite a few things, mainly about the sheer pluck and determination of Filipino directors Brillante Mendoza (Kinatay) and Raya Martin (Independencia, more reviews found here and here) who make their films with absolutely no government support or hope for commercial viability. Meanwhile, Thailand has two official booths at Cannes, from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce, and just one film in the official selection, the "lean drama" Nymph by Pen-ek Ratanaruang. (But is he getting any support from those booths? Update: Kong reports on his blog that Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Polabutr attended the screening of Nymph and left right after.) Yet Thailand looms large for the region's film industry. The Singaporean movie HERE by Ho Tzu Nyen in the parallel Directors' Fortnight "more than likely contains footage of the anti-Thaksin street protest in Bangkok in 2006." Have to find out why. Chris Chong's Karaoke in the Directors' Fortnight was shot on a Malaysian palm plantation "by a Thai cinematographer" (Tropical Malady lensman Jarin Pengpanitch) and cut by a Thai editor (Lee Chatametikool) in Bangkok (check out the trailer at Twitch. Oh hey, there's one of my favorite actresses: Mislina Mustapha.) Kong continues: "What's quite certain however, is that Karaoke -- as well as other Southeast Asian titles -- won't secure a theatrical release in [Bangkok], a pity, since there are many cultural opportunities if the countries in the region work more closely, especially when ASEAN cinema has proved to enjoy a healthier status than the ASEAN economy (or ASEAN summit, that is)."

Right Beyond in Cannes
In a story a couple of days ago, the Associated Press surveys the Asian scene at Cannes. The article quotes Rattikorn Prichavongwaikul of Right Beyond, which is shopping its Thai-Taiwanese horror co-production The Fatality and other titles: "I think it's opening up," Rattikorn said of the market outlook this year, despite the global financial crisis. "I'm in this business for 10 years, and we used to come to buy. Now we have a stand to promote our own films. Now when we make films we are not just thinking of the domestic market. We're thinking internationally as well. We've been here three or four years and it's picking up every year."

Right Royal
Princess Ubolratana is in Cannes. She attended the Marche du Film. The Royal News Blog has the Princess speaking at the Thailand Film Gala Press Conference. There are more photos. Toronto International Film Festival programmer Colin Geddes Tweeted about attending "a cocktail for Thai royalty". During the gala press conference, an announcement was made about the Thailand Entertainment Expo, set for September 10 to 20, put on by the Commerce Ministry and the Department of Export Promotion. The expo was first held last year in tandem with the Bangkok International Film Festival. Update: Bangkok 1080 links to a story about the Princess' appearance at Cannes. Inspired by Angelina Jolie, the Princess is working on more films to follow up her Where the Miracle Happens: The action film My Bodyguard, the historical drama The Legend of the Queen and Oriental Eyes, filming in Switzerland.

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