Monday, August 10, 2009

Agrarian Utopia wins NETPAC award in Brisbane

Uruphong Raksasad's Agrarian Utopia continues to gather accolades on the festival circuit, harvesting a NETPAC Jury Award from the Brisbane International Film Festival, which wrapped up on Sunday.

It was the only Thai film in the festival. Here's the synopsis:

Apart from filmmaking, what interests me to an equal extent is agriculture. I feel it is among mankind’s most noble professions. I wonder whether all these professions we have in the world (including filmmaking) are really necessary.—Uruphong Raksasad, Director

Thai filmmaker Uruphong Raksasad knows the challenges of farming. The son of a rice farmer, Raksasad portrays the hardships of working the land in his docudrama Agrarian Utopia. The production was set on a plot of land actually farmed by the actors, and, although fictional, the film tackles the issues of environmental sustainability with the same provocative impact as traditional cinéma vérité.

The narrative follows two families whose debts force them to farm the same land. The impossibility of the situation is realised when the question ’How can we dream of utopia while our stomach is still grumbling?’ is raised.

The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema also awarded About Elly, by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. Other NETPAC contenders were:

  • Flowers of the Sky, Prasanna Vithanage (Sri Lanka)
  • Gulabi Talkies, Girish Kasaravalli (India)
  • Laila's Birthday, Rashid Masharawi (Palestine/Tunisia/The Netherlands)
  • Pandora's Box, Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey/ Belgium/France/Germany)
  • Perfect Life, Emily Tang (Hong Kong/China)
  • Roots, Joseph Pulinthanath (India)
  • Serbis, Brillante Mendoza (Philippines/France)
  • Songs from the Southern Seas, Marat Sarulu (Kazakhstan/Germany/Russia/France)
  • Still Walking, Kore-eda Hirokazu (Japan)

The complete list of awards can be found at the festival website. The Brisbane festival started on July 31.

Agrarian Utopia has previously won awards in Rotterdam (NETPAC special mention) and Barcelona (special mention). It has also played in Jeonju, Hong Kong, Singapore, Munich and Dubrovnik.

Gosh, I wonder when it's going to play in Bangkok?

(Via Courier Mail)

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