Saturday, November 6, 2010

WFFBKK 2010 festival notes: Nuri Bilge Ceylan given the Lotus Award

The 8th World Film Festival of Bangkok opened on Friday night at Paragon Cineplex with a ceremony that featured black-clad contemporary dancers offering their interpretations of the festival's highlights.

It was kind of weird. Which was cool.

The festival trailer was shown, and the director of the opening film Eternity (Tee Rak), Sivaroj Kongsakul, and his main cast members, actress Namfon Udomlertlak and actor Wanlop Rungkumjad, were brought to the stage for a brief chat about the movie.

The designer of this year's winning festival poster, Namkhang Anomasir, was also introduced. Under the theme Emotions Unleashed, he depicts a young woman's legs, with the hairs standing on end with goosebumps to the thrill of movies.

Then it was time to introduce this year's Lotus Award winner, an honor given annually to notable filmmakers on the world cinema scene. This year's honoree was Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose social-class drama Three Monkeys is featured in the festival alongside the five-film New Turkish Cinema package.

Ceylan confessed that he didn't know much about Thailand or Thai cinema until he watched "one movie" – Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady. He added that movies like that are better advertising for a country than the most expensive commercials money could buy. "You are very lucky to have good filmmakers like Apichatpong," he said, concluding his brief remarks.

He was then handed the acrylic World Film Festival of Bangkok trophy by Permanent Secretary for Culture Somchai Seanglai, who read a short prepared speech in Thai that was briefly summarized in English.

French filmmaker Jacques Doillon, who will present a five-film retrospective of his post-New Wave career during the festival, came up for the photo opportunities.

An explosion of sparkly confetti officially signaled the start of the festival.

The proceedings were held in the 1,200-seat Siam Pavalai auditorium, marking a change in venue for the opening ceremonies, which have usually been held down in the Paragon Cineplex's Infinity Hall lobby. After a brief break, the audience didn't have to go too far to find their seats and settle in for the gentle romantic drama Eternity.

The fest runs until November 14, screening 138 features and shorts at Siam Paragon and at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit.

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