Sunday, September 25, 2011

World premiere of The Kick highlights big Thai selection in Busan

Director Prachya Pinkaew's South Korean-Thai martial-arts movie The Kick will make its world premiere at the 16th Busan International Film Festival.

It's just one of many Thai films in the Busan fest.

In addition to The Kick, there's Tongpong Chantarangkul’s I Carried You Home in the New Currents competition, the Asian premiere of Kongdej Jaturanrasamee's P-047, the international festival premiere of Sophon Sakdaphisit's thriller Laddaland, ML Bhandevanop Devakula's Chua Fah Din Salai (Eternity), veteran director Nonzee Nimibutr's short film Superstitious, Aditya Assarat's short 6 to 6 and a special screening of Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger, which celebrates 10 years this year.

The Kick (더 킥), destined for theatrical release in South Korea on November 3, is about a South Korean family of five martial artists running a taekwondo studio in Bangkok. They have to use their skills to stop some gangsters trying to steal a Thai national treasure. Jija Yanin and comedian Petthai "Mum Jokmok" Wongkamlao are in supporting roles. There's a trailer making the rounds, embedded below. It's screening in the Midnight Passion program at Busan.

Also in the midnight slot at Busan is Laddaland (ลัดดาแลน), making its international premiere. The latest thriller from studio GTH and Sophon Sakdaphisit, screenwriter of Shutter and director of Coming Soon, Laddaland is a gripping, dread-filled psychological-ghost story about a family who moves into a haunted Chiang Mai housing development.

Making its Asian premiere is Kongdej's P-047 (Tae Peang Phu Deaw), a quirk-filled drama that has a lot of positive buzz going for it after its last-minute out-of-competition addition to the Venice Film Festival. It's a story of a locksmith who strikes up a friendship with another young man, and the pair break into people's homes to "borrow" their lives while they are away. P-047 screens in the Window on Asian Cinema program.

Also in the Window on Asian Cinema is Eternity (Chua Fah Din Salai, ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย), making its international premiere. Not to be confused with indie director Sivaroj Kongsakul's Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak), which won the New Currents Award at Busan last year and is now in limited release in Bangkok, this other Eternity is Outrage director ML Bhandevop "Mom Noi" Devakula's lavish romantic drama about cheating lovers (Ananda Everingham and Ploy Chermarn) chained together. Busan is apparently screening the theatrical version from last year's commercial release in Thailand and not the three-hour director's cut that Mom Noi prepared with the intention of having it screened on the festival circuit.

I Carried You Home, the debut feature by indie filmmaker Tongpong, makes its premiere in the New Current Competition. It's the story of a pair of estranged sisters who are reunited by their mother's death. The film has been supported by Busan's Asian Cinema Fund, receiving funds for script development and post-production.

Wisit Sasanatieng's 2001 debut feature Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah Talai Jone) will be screening in the special focus program on Asian westerns, Men of the East. It's a really cool selection that spans the history of the Eastern westerns. Among the selection is Chingachgook: The Great Snake, a 1967 drama about Native Americans by East German director Richard Groschopp, and Uzbekistan'sThe Seventh Bullet (1972) by Ali Khamrayev. There's a pair from Japan, Saito Buichi's The Rambling Guitarist from 1959 and the 1960 sequel The Rambler Rides Again, and a pair from the Philippines, Fernando Poe Jr.'s San Bernardo and Gun in My Hand, both from 1966. Two recent entries are Chinese director Jiang Wen's Let the Bullets Fly and Kim Jee-woon's The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Also from South Korea is Im Kwon-taek's Eagle of the Wild Field (1969). And no Eastern western program would be complete without 1975's Bollywood classic, Sholay.

In the Wide Angle program there's two shorts from last year's films in commemoration of His Majesty the King's 83rd birthday: Superstitious by Nonzee Nimibutr and Six to Six by Aditya Assarat. Superstitious (เกษตร ...ตะกอน, Kaset Ta Korn), is a colorful comedy about a farmer who plants a genetically modified sunflower seed. Villagers believe the plant has magical powers leading to a wildly out-of-control situation. Six to Six (เพลงชาติไทย, Pleng Chat Thai) is a quietly comedic look at workers in an apartment building cleaning their master's top-floor room. It also screened at the recent Thai Short Film & Video Festival and is actually a prelude to Aditya's feature Hi-So, which screened at Busan last year and finally opens in Bangkok cinemas next month.

Apart from all those Thai movies, there's also a look at the old cinemas of Thailand and elsewhere in an exhibition of photos in Busan by the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project.

There's also the Asian Project Market, with projects by Nonzee and Aditya being pitched.

Further Thai involvement comes from filmmaker-critic Kong Rithdee as a member of the NETPAC jury, Aditya judging the short film competition's Sonje Award and Apichatpong Weerasethakul as a keynote speaker in the Busan Cinema Forum.

In all, the Busan International Film Festival will screen 307 films from 70 countries, and the fest makes it home in a brand-new main venue, the Busan Cinema Center. The fest runs from October 6 to 14 2011.

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