Sunday, April 1, 2012

FFFest 2012: Pre-Attitude, Ja Boe take top prizes

Frame by Aroonkorn Pick. You don't actually see the boom mic in the film.

A documentary about three "misters" living their life as "misses" was judged top film while a drama about indigenous people in conflict with forest rangers won the audience award last night at the Friends Without Borders' fourth Fly Beyond the Barbwire Fence Festival in Chiang Mai.

Here's the winning films:

  • 2nd Runner-up: Frame by Aroonkorn Pick. A pair of young men sit at a table in room lined with newspapers and have philosophical conversation about following the rules – a discussion that eventually leads to conflict.
  • 1st Runner-up: Ta Mu La by Saw Shee Keh Sher. While his girlfriend has decided to seek freedom in a third country and his grandfather is waiting to return to his homeland in Karen state, young Tamula finds another way to fly free of the refugee camp's barbed-wired fence.
  • Best Film: Pre-Attitude by Panu Saeang-Xuto. This documentary interviews three transgender women from various interesting backgrounds. One is a former senior military officer. Another is a village chief or "headman". The third a Muslim teenage schoolgirl. The film previously won the Young Thai Artist Award in 2010 from the Siam Cement Foundation.
  • Samurais Choice (audience award): Ja Boe Meets the Man of Fortune by Maitree Chamroensuk. A pair of indigenous subsistence farmers meet at the end of the day and express their happiness in song. But then their mountain home is declared a Thai national park, and families who have lived there for generations are no longer allowed to farm the land or harvest wood, herbs, etc. They run into conflict with forest rangers who are really nothing more than armed thugs in camouflage. It's a fact-based account by the Lahu director who participated in the Friends Without Borders Holding Hands film workshop.

Judges came from such organizations as the Thai Film Archive and the Thai Film Director Association and among those on hand for the prize ceremony was filmmaker Pimpaka Towira, whose award-winning short My Father was screened. Audience awards were voted on in a system of three ballot boxes, in which voting slips were placed in boxes marked So-So/Don't Like, Good or Great!

And, if there was Wise Kwai Snorting Buffalo Award for the festival, it would go to The Farmer by Natpakan Kemkhao, a high-school student from a farming family Nan province. His short film is a classic Thai farmer story of farmer who gets tired of fighting with his stubborn water buffalo and decides to sell the beast and get a loan to buy a tractor. His mother frowns on the decision, and she's right. It's a bad idea.

All the winning films will be repeated during today's program at the Chiang Mai University Art Center.

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