Monday, January 23, 2012

Tanwarin's It Gets Better to premiere at Hua Hin fest

The World Film Festival of Bangkok is on, with Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr in town to receive the festival's Lotus Award and to talk after the screening of his latest and what he says emphatically is his last film, The Turin Horse. Ryan Gosling is in Bangkok, to begin filming on Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn's latest, Only God Forgives, and there's yet another film festival happening in the Kingdom, starting January 26, down in Hua Hin, promising to bring in a bunch of big-name celebrities.

Only just announced in December, details about the first Hua Hin International Film Festival have been eking out in the weeks since, but the website is up and they have their program together.

Among the highlights will be the gala premiere of It Gets Better (ไม่ได้ขอให้มารัก) by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit. It's a followup to Tanwarin's Insects in the Backyard, which was banned by the Office of the National Culture Commission for alluding to patricide and depictions of prostitution. .

It Gets Better is an ensemble romance with three stories about transsexual love. Veteran actress Penpak Sirikul stars in one, playing a retired transsexual who travels to northern Thailand and falls in love with a local man who works in a garage. Another has a young man returning to Thailand from the U.S. to find that he's inheritd a gay bar from his father. He then falls in love with a bar employee. She's played by "Bell" Nuntita Khampiranon, whose singing talents surprised a nation on the "Thailand's Got Talent" reality-TV series. A third thread involves a feminine-acting boy sent away to the monkhood, where the novice falls in love with a senior monk.

The trailer is embedded below.

With a focus on films that were big at the box office, other Thai films include the thirtysomething romantic comedies 30+ Singles on Sale and 30 Kamleung Jaew, Pen-ek's Headshot, Thailand's Oscar submission Kon Khon (which didn't make the Oscar shortlist), the GTH horror Laddaland, the teen romance omnibus Love, Not Yet, the teen gangster drama Friends Never Die, The Legend of King Naresuan (parts 3 and 4), and The Unreasonable Man (also screening in the World Film Festival of Bangkok).

There's also a strong selection of films from across Southeast Asia. They include Love Story and Lovely Man from Indonesia (also in World Film Fest), the first Lao thriller At the Horizon (also screening at the Lifescapes fest in Chiang Mai), the Vietnamese director Charlie Nguyhen's hit romance Fool for Love with Dustin Nguyen, Malaysia's Great Days and KL Gangster, Singapore's ,b>It's a Great Great World by Kelvin Tong, Cambodia's Kiles, the Philippines' The Mountain Thief, Niño and Ways of the Sea and the Burmese drama The Moon Lotus.

Touted as "the biggest film industry and cultural event of the year", with an aim to make Hua Hin "the Cannes of Thailand", there are.more than 50 films from more than 15 countries.

Other highlights include the Southeast Asian premiere of The Lady, the biopic of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, which was partly shot in Thailand. Director Luc Besson and star Michelle Yeoh are expected to be in attendance.

Others expected include David Lancaster, producer of Drive, Hong Kong producer Terence Chang, actor Alex Meraz from The Twilight Saga and the stars of the South Korean romance Always, So Ji-Sub and Han Hyo-Joo.

The program also includes "controversial and uncensored films" like Steve McQueen's Shame with Michael Fassbender and the Taiwanese film Blowfish, as well as David Cronenberg's Freud-Jung flick, A Dangerous Method.

The opening film is Taiwan's Warriors of the Rainbow (Seediq Bale), which just made the shortlist for the foreign-language Oscar.

Money raised from ticket sales goes to flood relief.

The Hua Hin International Film Festival runs from January 26 to 29 at the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort and Major Cineplex, Market Village.

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