Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mundane History to open 7th World Film Festival of Bangkok

Mundane History, the debut feature by "Mai" Anocha Suwichakornpong, will have its Thailand premiere as the opening film of the 7th World Film Festival of Bangkok.

With around 100 features and shorts screening over 10 days, the WFFBKK is set for November 6 to 15 at Paragon Cineplex.

Among the highlights announced at a press conference today is a Retrospective on Swiss director Alain Tanner, with six of his films from the 1960s to the '80s.

Festival director Victor Silakong has also scored director Tsai Ming-liang's latest, Visage (Face), which premiered at Cannes and was shot in Paris’ Louvre museum with cast of such French big names as Fanny Ardant, Laetitia Casta and Jean-Pierre Léaud. Of course it wouldn't be a Tsai Ming-liang film if it didn't have Lee Kang-sheng in the cast, so he's there too. Tsai is expected to be among the festival's guests.

Another one to look forward to is Karaoke by Malaysia's Chris Chong. It'll play in the Asian Contemporary section.

As with last year's festival, the closing film will be a musical documentary, screened outdoors, as if it were an open-air concert. This year, the fest picks up on the popularity of reggae music in Thailand with the Swiss documentary Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae. The screening is moving this year to the more suitable surroundings of Discovery Plaza, the same place the Film Archive had its outdoor film series during Bangkok Bananas!! earlier this year. Last year's closing film of the WFFBKK, Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light, was marred by a blinding bright flashing billboard above the screen. That was in Parc Paragon, and it would have cost 1 million baht to have the damn thing shut off.

Mundane History (Jao Nok Krajok) is a family drama about a paralyzed man, his father, a male nurse and the family's grand estate, which has seen better days. Anocha says the characters and the narrative are an allegory for contemporary Thai society.

In addition, there will be a decent selection of Thai independent features and shorts. Already tipped for the festival are Thunska Pansittivorakul's sex-and-politics documentary This Area Is Under Quarantine and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's short A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, which is part of his larger Primitive project. It'll be the first time either have been screened publicly in Thailand.

Others include I Am the Director, a documentary by Nitchapoom Chaianun, and Lost Nation by Zart Tancharoen.

Mundane History is premiering first at the Pusan Film Festival, where it was supported by the Asian Cinema Fund, in addition to the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Long in the works, it also received support from the 2006 Produire au Sud Bangkok, the biennial workshop for new producers and directors in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka held by the Produire au Sud Foundation of the Festival of 3 Continents, the French Embassy in Thailand and the WFFBKK since 2004.

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