Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Thai Short 17: Award winners, R.D. Pestonji competition review

All the winners. Photo courtesy Thai Film Foundation.

The story of a forest encounter between a border-patrol officer and a villager was among the top award winners at the 17th Thai Short Film and Video Festival, which wrapped up on Sunday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

Endless Realm by Eakalak Maleetipawan, in which a guitar-strumming artist hangs up sketches on a clothesline in the forest and breaks up the monotonous routine of a border guard, won the top-prize R.D. Pestonji Award in the category for general filmmakers. The prize is named after Thailand's pioneering auteur, Ratana Pestonji. Endless Realm also won the BACC Award from the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

Rights issues were a theme that linked many of the entries in the festival, including another big winner, Fate, by veteran filmmaker Boonsong Nakphoo. It follows a man as he's released after seven years in prison in a southern Thailand border town. None of the places he remembers still exist, so he opts to catch the first train back home to Isaan. With the trains delayed by a bombing on the line, his idling about waiting raises suspicions of the police, and he's detained. Fate won the Pirabkhao Award from the 14 October 1973 Memorial Foundation for films that express freedom and equality issues and also earned a special mention in the R.D. Pestonji category.

Two runner-up winners in the R.D. Pestonji competition were also strong human-interest stories, Oriole (นกขมิ้น) by Kaenipa Phanakorn, about a garment-worker mother struggling to care for her troublesome teenage son who has Asperger's Syndrome, and The Sweatshop (นกขมิ้น ) by New York University film student Chin Tangsakulsathaporn, a fact-based account of a trafficked immigrant girl's escape from an illegal garment factory in the U.S.

Another winner from the Pestonji line-up was Ta (ตา) by Kunlakan Chanakan Mamber, the story of a young girl scared by a ghost under her bed. Her mother assures her there's nothing to be afraid of but then tells her a scary story about how she accompanied the girl's late ghostbusting granddaddy to a job that really puts the pee in the Thai word for ghost. The richly told tale won the popular-vote Audience Award.

She Is My Best Friend, the top-prize-winner in the White Elephant student competition.

Two Pestonji entries were among the four winners of Vichitmatra Award for "distinctive achievements in filmmaking". Kai Jik Dek Tai Bon Pak Ong (ไก่จิกเด็กตายบนปากโอ่ง) by Chulayarnon Siriphol was the tale of an elderly grocery shop owner coping with knee-replacement surgery. The other was a smashing music-video entry by sound-and-vision sorcerer Taiki Sakpisit, The Age of Anxiety. Featuring a guitar-feedback squall by the rock band Moth Drakula, it opens with a long shot of just white fog or clouds but eventually a figure of a guitar player emerges from the mist. The scene then cuts to found footage of an old Thai film, possibly a Sompote Sands period melodrama starring Sombat Metanee and Sorapong Chatree. The frames of the footage are chopped and overlayed for a stunning, seizure-inducing strobe effect. From viewers still conscious at the end, it got big cheers.

Going home empty handed from the prize ceremony but still noteworthy were two other Pestonji entries that shared the same cast, All-Powerful! by Aditya Assarat and Boonrerm by Sorayos Prapapan. They both featured Jirawan Saikongkham and Karuna Lukthumtong as maids.

Aditya's was a sequel to his Six to Six, reuniting the security guard (Graison Chainam) and his co-workers, the young maid played by Jirawan and the older auntie (Karuna), who worked at the apartment building in Six to Six and the feature Hi-So. The guard is now selling quack-medicine remedies, and he goes chasing an actual white rabbit. Aditya himself portrays the homeowner.

Boonrerm, which has been well-traveled on the festival circuit this year, has Jirawan again as a maid. She endures demeaning, inhumane treatment by her "crazy woman" employer. At one point she is locked up in a dog's cage. She's then blamed for losing a cookbook and forced her to sift through trash at the dump to find it. Luckily young Boonrerm has a friend, the auntie maid again played by Karuna, who comes to the rescue.

Boonsong doubled down in the Pestonji competition with another well-made entry, Lamoon the Legend (ละมูล ตำนานเพลงพื้นบ้าน), about a folksinging granny who makes daily rounds to visit her elderly friends and keep her art alive. She walks the country roads, hunched over, with her little granddaughter following. Then, one day, her friends are no longer there, and perhaps her art won't survive.

Ta, winner of the popular-vote Audience Award.

Cult indie filmmaker Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke offered another of his satires on Thai culture with La double vie de Maniejan (มะนีจันเปล่งเสียงไม่ได้ในทวิภูมิทางภาษาของคุณ), which commented on ethnic and gender roles in voiceover narration. Unfortunately, it wasn't subtitled, so only the Thai-fluent were really in on the joke. Too bad, because Ratchapoom has been doing this for awhile now and he's ripe for attention beyond our borders.

Other entries were The Number You Have Dialed Is Not Available In This Time (2413482) by Suphisa Kittikunarak, in which a young couple becomes estranged, and Unknown Territory (เขากะลา ) by Eakarpon Settasuk, a humorous documentary-style account of three filmmakers investigating a transdimensional portal for extraterrestrials at Kala Mountain.

Sivaroj Kongsakul, who directed the festival's egg-themed bumper that's screened before every program, offered Homemade (หนังบ้าน) , which was an extension of the autobiographical themes from his feature debut Eternity (Tee-Rak). Here, he interviews his schoolteacher mother as she recounts all the places she's lived and how she's not yet realized her dream of owning her own property.

The International Competition had an especially strong and accomplished selection this year. The top prize went to Childhood Has Gone by China's Zhao Wei Shou, a wistful ode to a childhood friend moving away. A special mention went to the laugh-out-loud Welcome and Our Condolences by Leon Prudovsky, recounting a Russian family's immigration to Israel that's complicated when an aunt dies aboard the flight. Another special mention was Amateur Filmmaker by Volha Dashuk of Belarus follows the country's oldest living amateur filmmaker as he shoots betacam video footage of the lives of elderly farmers in the picturesque countryside. And a third mention was The Living Also Cry by Basil Da Cunha. The surreal tale is of a Portuguese dockworker who wants spend his life savings to move to Sweden, but his wife has spent the money on a washing machine.

Other winners included entries in the White Elephant Award competition for college student filmmakers, with the top prize going to the tale of badminton-playing gal pals She Is My Best Friend (เด็กสาวสองคนในสนามแบดมินตัน) by Jirassaya Wongsutin. Wang Ploeng Intersection (สี่แยกวังเพลิง), Natpakan Khemkhaw's story of a poor family hit by a draconian regulation of the 2008 Film and Video Act, was among the runners-up.

There was also a special competition, Jenesys 2.0, to pick films by schoolchildren to take part in this year's edition of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth.

Endless Realm, the top award-winner in the R.D. Pestonji competition.

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre Award

  • Endless Realm (อาณาจักรใจ), Eakalak Maleetipawan

Kodak Film School Competition

  • The Pilgrim (พระธุดงค์), Harin Pasongthai (Maneerat Srinakarin, cinematographer)

Paribkhao Award

  • Fate (ชะตากรร), Boonsong Nakphoo

Duke Award documentary competition

  • Winner: Nyob Zoo (Hello), Nuttasak Veeranorapanich
  • Runner-up: Voices of the Spirit Cave (พันปีผีแมน), Suporn Shoosongdej
  • Runner-up: Caretaker (Fak Liang (ฝากเลี้ยง), Panu Saeng-Xuto

International competition

  • Winner: Childhood Has Gone, Zhao Wei Shou (China).
  • Special Mention: Welcome and Our Condolences, Leon Prudovsky (Israel)
  • Special Mention: Amateur Filmmaker, Volha Dashuk (Belarus)
  • Special Mention: The Living Also Cry, Basil Da Cunha (Switzerland, Portugal)

R.D. Pestonji Award competition

  • Winner: Endless Realm (อาณาจักรใจ), Eakalak Maleetipawan.
  • Runner-up: Oriole (นกขมิ้น), Kaenipa Phanakorn
  • Runner-up: The Sweatshop (นกขมิ้น ), Chin Tangsakulsathaporn
  • Special mention: Fate (ชะตากรร), Boonsong Nakphoo

Payut Ngaokrachang Award animation competition

  • Winner: Nunui (หนูนุ้ย ), Chanya Hetayothin
  • Runner-up: Vision (视力), Keawalee Warutkomain
  • Runner-up: Pourquoi Chercher Ailleurs (Why Do You Search Somewhere Else), Saknarin Thubjaroen
  • Special mention: 8, Kraisit Bhokasawat
  • Special mention: Life of Fire (วิถีไฟ), Rusharil Hutangkabodee
  • Special mention: Breathe, Twatpong Tangsajjapoj

Jenesys 2.0

  • Circle by Pathumthong Wilai
  • It's My Turn by Panat Chulkasem
  • Myself by Sittiwat Tiptanaorlarn
  • What Would you Do by Alisa Piang
  • Kab Su Jud Rem Ton by Krit Chareonsawad
  • Krai Tum by Panitan Kraikroun
  • Tua Talok by Usa Thepbutr
  • Mua Chan Don Rung Kae
  • Ha Ruang by Supanee Limrojnukul

Special White Elephant (pre-college students)

  • No winner, special mentions only.
  • Do Not Disturb (ดึกแล้วคุณขา), Teerach Wangwisarn
  • The Cortege, Teerapat Ngathong
  • The Way I Want (วันที่ฝันเป็นจริ), Supanee Limrojnukul

White Elephant Award student film competition

  • Winner: She Is My Best Friend (เด็กสาวสองคนในสนามแบดมินตัน), Jirassaya Wongsutin
  • Runner-up: The Pilgrim (พระธุดงค์), Harin Pasongthai
  • Runner-up: Wang Ploeng Intersection (สี่แยกวังเพลิง), Natpakan Khemkhaw
  • Runner-up: Vicious Cycle, Aroonakorn Pick
  • Special mention: Synchronicity, Pongsathon Udomthongkasem

Best actor

  • Natnicha Puespanich from Awasarn Loksuay (อวสานโลกสวย), screened in the Digital Forum

Vichitmatra Award

  • Deleted, Nitaz Sinwattanakul
  • Yoy (หยอย), Tosapol Raengthong (Digital Forum entry)
  • The Age of Anxiety, Taiki Sakpiset
  • Kai Jik Dek Tai Bon Pak Ong (ไก่จิกเด็กตายบนปากโอ่ง), Chulayarnon Siriphol

Audience Award

  • Ta (ตา), Kunlakan Chanakan Mamber

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