Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thai classics online at Asia Pacific Film

Classics of Thai cinema, including films by Ratana Pestonji, are available at Asia Pacific Films, a new online film library that is offering free viewing until November 1.

From Thailand are three classics by Ratana Pestonji -- 1957's crazy musical-comedy-film noir Country Hotel, 1958's tale of tragic love Dark Heaven and 1961's film noir Black Silk. There's also 1955's story of chained-up cheating lovers Forever Yours, which had Pestonji as cinematographer and was directed by Tawee na Bangchang.

And there are two more films from Thailand's classic era, 1965's musical Ngern Ngern Ngern (Money Money Money) starring Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat, and the 1969 musical comedy Paradise Island, starring Sombat Metanee and Aranya Namwong. They are directed by Prince Anusornmongkolgan.

Apart from Thailand, other countries represented include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. These selections tend to be newer, indie titles, such as Riri Riza's pot-smoke-tinged Three Days to Forever, James Lee's romances like Things We Do When We Fall in Love, John Torres' Years When I Was a Child Outside and Kan Lume's The Art of Flirting.

There's also movies from China, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Sri Lanka. There's nothing yet from Cambodia, Laos or Burma, but give them time. is offering unlimited access in a free trial until November 1, after which the subscription rate will be US$8.99 a month for unlimited access.

According to the website, the money will be filtered back to the filmmakers and rights-holders in the form of royalties, and also benefit the work of the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC). From the website:

By acquiring digital rights and streaming our film collection on our website, we give our subscribers access to half of the world’s films: films made by Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Fact: 95 percent of these films are never seen outside of their own countries because mainstream distributors don’t bring them to the global market, or filmmakers from these areas lack access to distribution channels.

Our curators -- experts in Asian and Pacific cinema studies – hand-pick our films for their cultural nuances and historical significance, and for their themes, filmic techniques and styles.

Our film selections present artistic works that offer viewers a broad historical and cultural context about Asia and Pacific. We are creating an online library and archive because we believe the virtual environment is the best way to keep our cinematic heritage in perpetual circulation. features high-quality reviews, excusive interviews, theme-based searches, online commenting, podcasts, and much more.

Our filmmakers -- among them, renowned directors from China, Korea, India, Iran, and Southeast Asia -- receive royalties. A portion of our profits go to support the important work of NETPAC. In the future, a special research and development fund will support future film projects of filmmakers who have contributed films to this website.

All the Thai films so far are available on DVD with English subtitles from the Thai Film Foundation, but for well-connected Internet users, the Asia Pacific Online Film Library might be an appealing alternative. I can't use it myself, because my Internet connection sucks.

(Via ThorGB and Babel Machine)


  1. I would buy the DVDs from the Thai Film Foundation, except that no one there writes back to me regarding overseas payment and shipping.

  2. I thought I had a pretty good internet connection, but I didn't have any luck with this either. I tried to stream Black Silk from their site yesterday, but, while I was able to watch the trailer, the player just seemed to endlessly spin its wheels when I tried to start the movie.

  3. They are still working the kinks out. Peter reports being able to watch short films. Though as it's now November 1, the free trial is over. You'll have to pay to play.

    I wish I could offer a solution to folks outside Thailand who are wanting to see these movies, but at the moment I have nothing. Sorry.

  4. We have been working hard on the streaming quality of our movies, and we're happy to say that we've progressed significantly from our initial set-up. Any good internet connection should be able to screen our films without pause. If you are having trouble at all, feel free to contact me directly (cwo204[at]nyu[dot]com). I promise you that we'll get right on it.


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Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

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