Monday, November 1, 2010

AFM 2010: Bitter/Sweet, My Best Bodyguard, Red Eagle and Eternity

The American Film Market starts this week in the Home of the Homeless, Santa Monica, California.

Checking out the schedule at The Film Catalogue, I see three Thai films are scheduled for screenings: Bitter/Sweet, My Best Bodyguard and The Red Eagle.

There's also mention of Eternity (no, not that Eternity) in a Hollywood Reporter article as being among "five titles likely to generate buzz at this year's AFM".

Bitter/Sweet (ข้ามฟ้า หาสูตรรัก, Kam Fah Ha Sut Rak) makes a return to AFM. Represented by Worldwide Film Entertainment, it's a 2009 Thai-Hollywood romantic comedy-drama about an American coffee buyer (Kip Pardue) who finds some tasty robusta beans on a plantation in rural southern Thailand and a feisty love interest in a Thai public-relations executive (Mamee Nakprasit). Akara Amartayakul and James Brolin star in the subplot. Bitter/Sweet was screened earlier this year in a gala presentation at the Phuket Film Festival, where it added an award to its many accolades. It had a Thai theatrical run back in June.

My Best Bodyguard, produced by Oriental Eyes and repped at AFM by Media Asia Distribution, is a Hong Kong-style action thriller that stars Princess Ubolrattana as a veteran journalist investigating the spread of a new virus. She discovers that it’s the result of a pharmaceutical company’s experiments on human subjects, and her life is in danger. The Princess is making her sophomore big-screen appearance following 2008's social drama Where the Miracle Happens. Shahkrit Yamnarm plays a gunman, with Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue is a villainous pharmaceutical company executive. James Alexander Mackie from Oriental Eyes' karmic thriller 9 Wat, also stars. A 10-minute preview was shown at a Thai Night royal gala during the Pusan International Film Festival, with a favorable response. It opened in Thai cinemas on October 21.

And then there's Wisit Sasanatieng's The Red Eagle (Insee Dang, อินทรีเเดง). Five Star Production, bless their hearts, are representing themselves at AFM. They have to have ambitious hopes for The Red Eagle, which I will admit is a difficult and troubled movie, but it's one I ended up loving upon a second viewing. A big, brash, Hollywood-style superhero thriller that's full of relentless action, I hope they find a buyer to give it a good and proper U.S. release. A cult film in the making, it deserves at least a Region 1 DVD/Blu-ray release.

The Red Eagle features a killer performance by Ananda Everingham, recently listed by The Hollywood Reporter among "10 actors to look out for in an increasingly global business". He also stars in Eternity (Chua Fai Din Salai, ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย), the old-timey romantic drama directed by ML Bhandevanob Devakul that's adapted from a classic 1940s novella about adulterous lovers who are chained together for eternity.

The Hollywood Reporter lists Eternity among its list of five buzzworthy titles at AFM, noting that "the film has done decent box office in Thailand, grossing more than $1 million despite a slow start and a simmering controversy over nudity." Indeed, the release by Sahamongkol Film International didn't even make the chart the week of its release on September 16, but the following week it had rocketed to No. 2, and at last count had made $1.1 million (around 34 million baht). It was a summer sleeper hit, alongside another Sahamongkol release, First Love (Sing Lek Lek Thee Riak Wa … Ruk, สิ่งเล็กๆ ที่เรียกว่า...รัก). There was nudity in Eternity, but it was pretty tame and the movie was rated 15+. What nudity there was, was basically seen in the trailer. But that "simmering controversy" was enough to get people to go and see the movie.

The American Film Market runs from November 3 to 8.

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