Thursday, September 5, 2013

Concrete Clouds, midnight movies and much more for Busan fest

Lee Chatametikool's Concrete Clouds is among the highlights of a generous Thai selection at this year's Busan International Film Festival.

The directorial-debut feature by Lee, an editor and post-production supervisor on many Thai films, Concrete Clouds makes its world premiere in the New Currents competition. It stars Ananda Everingham as a currency trader who returns to Thailand after his father commits suicide at the onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Janesuda Parnto and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk also star. Long in the works, Concrete Clouds was given a big boost in this year's round of the Busan fest's Asian Cinema Fund. Producers include Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Anocha Suwichakornpong, returning the favors Lee did for them in editing their films, along with Sylvia Chang and Soros Sukhum.

Also premiering in the New Currents competition is The Isthmus, a drama by Peerachai Kerdsint and Sopawan Boonnimitra. It's about an eight-year-old girl who suddenly loses her ability to speak Thai after her family's Burmese maid dies. "Believing her daughter is spiritually bound to the dead woman, Da and her child journey to a Thai-Burmese border town to ask the maid’s only relative to sever the connection," reads the program notes.

The Midnight Passion program offers a dose of crowd-pleasing Thai horror with the smash-hit ghost comedy Pee Mak and the international festival premiere of Last Summer (ฤดูร้อนนั้น ฉันตาย, Rue Doo Ron Nan Chan Tai), a three-part indie horror by Kittithat Tangsirikit, Sittisiri Mongkolsiri and Saranyoo Jiralak.

Saranyoo also has his 2012 drama Together making its international premiere in the Window on Asian Cinema program.

And, having premiered at the Venice fest, last year's Busan New Currents Award winner Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit has his Twitter movie Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy in the Window.

There's also Letters from the South, an omnibus about the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. Aditya Assarat is among six directors taking part. Others are Tsai Ming-Liang, Malaysia's Tan Chui Mui, Singapore's Royston Tan and Sun Koh and Myanmar's Midi Z.

Also of interest, there's Australian director Kim Mordaunt's Lao family tale The Rocket, which has been a big hit on the festival circuit this year.

Regional highlights include Toilet Blues by Indonesia's Dirmawan Hatta in the New Currents, and in the Window on Asian Cinema, Dustin Nguyen's directorial debut Once Upon a Time in Vietnam, Lav Diaz' Norte, the End of History, Brillante Mendoza's Sapi, Adolf Alix Jr.'s Death March and Jerrold Tarog's If Only from the Philippines, the Malaysian short-film collection Ikal Mayang: Telling Women Stories, Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo from Singapore and What They Don't Talk About When They Talk About Love from Indonesia's Mouly Surya.

The fest will open with Vara: A Blessing, the third film by Bhutanese former lama Khyentse Norbu.

The Busan International Film Festival runs from October 3 to 12.

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