Sunday, October 28, 2012

10th World Film Festival of Bangkok to open with Mekong Hotel

The 10th World Film Festival of Bangkok continues its tradition of opening with an independent Thai film. This edition it's Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Mekong Hotel, which premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival and has been a fixture on the festival circuit ever since.

One of the most buzzworthy titles from this year's Cannes fest, Holy Motors, will also screen. And, director Leos Carax will be present to receive the festival's Lotus Award, which is essentially a lifetime achievement award. A couple of Carax's earlier films, The Lovers on the Bridge and Mauvais Sang.

And, finally making it's way to Bangkok is Aki Kaurismaki's Le Havre, which was an award-winner at Cannes last year and was the French selection to the Oscars.

Other Thai films include Elephant Shaman, a documentary about an 85-year-old Hmong man who is believed to be the last elephant shaman in Thailand, and his efforts to pass on his knowledge to the generation. It's by Thai-Irish director Shane Bunnag, whose debut feature All for Nothing was screened at the 2006 edition of the festival.

Thailand's pachyderms are also featured in The Eyes of Thailand, which follows feisty activist Soraida Salwala's quest to help two elephant land-mine amputees walk on their own four gigantic legs with elephant-sized prostheses. It's narrated by Ashley Judd.

There's lots more Thai interest in the Short Wave package. It includes films from Chiang Mai's Friends Without Borders and their workshop for ethnic filmmakers, which generated Natpakal Khemkhao 's The Farmer, Tanit Jamroensuksakul's Ja Daw's Choice and Suthit Saja's A Belt and a Comb.  All three won awards earlier this year at the 15th Thai Short Film and Video Festival, and here's an excellent change to see them if you haven't yet.

This is actually the second time this year the World Film Festival of Bangkok has been held. Last year's ninth edition was postponed to January because of the flooding disaster in Bangkok last October and November. But the 10th edition looks set to go on as scheduled, even though there are still things work out on the schedule. Keep an eye on the festival website for more details.

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