Thursday, February 27, 2014

Concrete Clouds, All Powerful! in Hong Kong fest

Lee Chatametikool's debut feature Concrete Clouds and Aditya Assarat's short film All Powerful! will screen in the 38th Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Starring Ananda Everingham and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Concrete Clouds (ภวังค์รัก, Pavang Rak) is showing as part of the Global Vision program. Here's the synopsis:

The financial crisis of the late 1990s left an indelible mark on Asia, as Chatametikool shows as he heads back to 1997 in this simultaneously kitschy and contemplative film. When Mutt returns to Bangkok from Manhattan after his father’s suicide, he reconnects with an old girlfriend just as his younger brother embarks on his own fragile romance with a neighbour. Secrets, reality, fantasy and memory press down on the various relationships, and determine how they ultimately succeed or fail.

Long in development and produced by a host of filmmaking talent, including Anocha Suwichakornpong and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Concrete Clouds was supported by the Hong Kong fest's Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum. It premiered at last year's Busan fest. Other appearances include the Tiger Awards competition at Rotterdam and the recent Vesoul fest in France. Distributed by the new company Mosquito Films Distribution, a Thai release is planned for sometime this year, but is likely pending an end to the increasingly violent anti-government protests that have paralyzed Bangkok.

All Powerful! is in the short-film competition. Reuniting the maids and the security guard from Aditya's previous short film, the Hi-So adjunct Six to Six, it has the now-out-of-work guard trying to sell quack medical devices to the skeptical auntie and his young former co-worker. Aditya himself makes an appearance. All Powerful! previously screened in last year's Thai Short Film and Video Festival as well as the recent Clermont-Ferrand fest.

The Hong Kong fest has two opening films, both by Hong Kong directors – Pang Ho-chun's family drama Aberdeen starring Louis Koo, Miriam Yeung and Gigi Leung, and Fruit Chan's post-apocalyptic thriller The Midnight After. The closing film is Dante Lam’s That Demon Within.

Among the world premieres is Beautiful 2014, the third installment in the anthology series co-produced by HKIFF and Chinese online video platform Youku. It has segments directed by Christopher Doyle, China’s Zhang Yuan, Hong Kong’s Shu Kei and South Korea’s Kang Je-gyu.

There will be a Philippines Day on March 30 in tribute to victims of Typhoon Yolanda, and a special "Glories of Filipino Cinema" program will include such films as Erik Matti’s On the Job, Chris Martinez’ Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel, Lav Diaz Norte, the End of History and Barber's Tales, starring ubiquitous leading lady Eugene Domingo.

The 38th Hong Kong International Film Festival runs from March 24 to April 7.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Premieres set for 36, Mary Is Happy in London

Hot off its stunning win of four Subhanahongsa (Golden Swan) trophies at the Thailand National Film Association Awards, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy will make its U.K. premiere this weekend alongside his debut feature 36.

First up on Saturday, March 1, 36 will make its London premiere as part of the Pan Asia Film Festival at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy has its U.K. premiere at the same venue the next day.

An additional screening for 36 is set for Monday, March 3 at the Proud Archivist. And Mary Is Happy will have a special screening on Tuesday, March 4, at the Aubin Cinema
All will have Q-and-A sessions with Nawapol.

Both films have been picked up for release by Day for Night, the new U.K. film distribution company that a year ago picked up another Pop Pictures' release, Hi-So by Mary producer Aditya Assarat. A June release is set for 36 in the U.K. and Ireland while Mary Is Happy is due out in the fall.

Ahead of the London screenings, Eastern Kicks has reviews of both 36 and Mary.

Tang Wong and Mary trump Pee Mak at Subhanahongsa Awards

Kongdej is happy. He won best director and screenplay for Tang Wong, which also got best picture and best supporting actor. Nation photo by Thanachai Pramarnpanich.

The indie films Tang Wong and Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy scored a major upset at the 23rd Thailand National Film Association Awards (รางวัลภาพยนตร์แห่งชาติ สุพรรณหงส์) on Sunday night at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya, winning four Golden Swan trophies each and leaving the leading nominee, the blockbuster ghost romance Pee Mak Phra Khanong, almost empty-handed.

Tang Wong, which had 10 nominations, swept up the Subhanahongsa Awards for Best Picture, director and screenplay for writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee. The satiric teenage comedy-drama looked at the eroding state of Thai culture with its story about four schoolboys learning a traditional dance in return for their prayers being answered at a spirit-house shrine. One of the film's four young stars, Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, won best supporting actor for his role as a table-tennis star looking for a way out of his life in a rundown Bangkok apartment block. The film premiered at last year's Berlin film fest,and also screened at the Hong Kong International before having a Thai theatrical run. It also met critical acclaim at other fests, including Luang Prabang.

Another teenage comedy-drama, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy, took awards for actress and supporting actress, Patcha Poonpiriya and Chonnikan Netjui, who portrayed best friends. It had also been nominated for 10 awards. Written and directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy is the quirky story of a sad, angst-filled boarding-school pupil and was based on 410 consecutive messages from a Bangkok schoolgirl's Twitter stream. The low-budget project was generated out the Venice Biennale College and premiered at last year's Venice film fest. It had a limited run in Thai cinemas, but was a cult hit thanks to an engaging social-media campaign masterminded by Nawapol. It also won awards for film editing and cinematography.

Pee Mak, the GTH studio's romantic comedy based on the famous ghost legend of Mae Nak Phra Khanong, was the leading nominee, with nods in 13 of the 16 categories. It shattered box-office records last year with estimated earnings of more than 1 billion baht. But it won only one award – for art direction by veteran Akradej Kaewkote, who had also been the production designer on another Mae Nak adaptation, 1999's Nang Nak.

Best actor went to soap-opera leading man Nadech Kugimiya for studio M-Thirtynine's wartime romance Koo Kam, which was released around the same time as Pee Mak and took a beating at the box office. It also won for costume design.

The nominees were selected in a controversial new system instituted by Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand president Visute Poolvoralaks. The so-called "R+O" system combined open voting from members of the film industry balanced by the usual jury panel of critics, academics and experts as "referees". The federation had hoped to involve some 1,500 members of the film industry, who would weigh in on their areas of expertise. However, many hadn't actually seen the films, so only about half participated in the first round of voting. Another vote took place after the nominees were announced, and only around 300 cast ballots, according to The Nation today.

Other winners included Tony Jaa's 3D martial-arts actioner Tom-Yum-Goong 2, which picked up the only two awards it was nominated for – visual effects and sound.

Former Federation president Jaruek Kaljaruek, an executive at the Kantana studio, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here's the list of winners:

  • Best Picture: Tang Wong
  • Director: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
  • Screenplay: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
  • Actor: Nadech Kugimiya, Koo Kam
  • Actress: Patcha Poonpiriya, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Supporting Actor: Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, Tang Wong
  • Supporting Actress: Chonnikan Netjui, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Cinematography: Pairach Khumwan, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Film Editing: Chonlasit Upanigkit Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Recording and Sound Mixing: Ram Indra Sound Mixing Studio, Tom-Yum-Goong 2
  • Original Song: "Yuewya", Cin Thosaporn Achawanantakul, Last Summer
  • Original Score: Chatchai Pongprapapan, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Art Direction: Akradej Kaewkote, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Costume Design: Vorathon Krisanakalin, Koo Kam
  • Makeup: Arporn Meebangyang, Thongsuk 13
  • Visual Effects: Surreal Studio Company and Thossaporn Poonnart, Tom-Yum-Goong 2
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Jaruek Kaljaruek
  • Popular Vote Awards: actor Nadech Kugimiya and actress Suthata Udomsilp

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Watch: The Last Executioner teaser

No one forgives The Last Executioner for his sins. Not the prisoners he's had to kill, not his wife, and nor "the spirit" that haunts him.

So feast your eyes on the teaser trailer (embedded above) to The Last Executioner (เพชฌฆาต, Petchakat), director Tom Waller's new feature. It's a fact-based biographical yarn about Chavoret Jaruboon, a rifleman who was the last to carry out executions in Thailand's prison system.

He was carefree rock 'n' roller with one foot in his grave, playing music for American soldiers fighting in Vietnam before he stumbled on his lethal vocation. He served for 19 years as Bang Kwang prison's last machine-gun prison executioner.

Vithaya Pansringarm (Chang from Only God Forgives) stars as Chavoret with Penpak Sirikul (She, It Gets Better) as his wife. David Asavanond (Countdown) is "The Spirit", a character who haunts him throughout his life. Thira Chutikul (Rang: The Parallel) plays Chavoret in his younger days. They are supported by veteran character actors Nirut Sirichanya (The Hangover Part 2, Ong-Bak 2 and 3), Jaran Petcharoen (Mindfulness and Murder) and Pisarn Akraseranee.

The film is still in production and will be released in June through a new Thai outfit, Handmade Distribution, which has previously brought Lee Daniels' The Butler and Don Jon to Thai cinemas, and has Chinese fantasy epic The Monkey King coming out this week.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Tai Hong Tai Hian

  • Directed by Thammanoon Sakulbunthanom, Achira Nokthet, Poj Arnon, Thanadol Nualsuth
  • Starring Pimchanok Luewisetphaibun, Chotwutthi Bunyasit, Natpassara Adulyamethasiri, Pharunyoo Rotchanawutthitham, Charm Osathanond, Charlie Trairat, Jazz Chuenchuen, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, Oranut Unsawat, Phongsakon Chaisuriya, Nick Kunatip Pinpradab, Pichaya Nitipaisankul, Manatnan Phanloetwongsakun
  • Released in Thai cinemas on February 6, 2014; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Poj Arnon has rounded up another batch of directors for yet another horror omnibus, Tai Hong Tai Hian (ตายโหงตายเฮี้ยน), four sleazy ghost stories inspired by pulpy true-crime cases. It's a follow-up to a similar 2010 project by Poj, Tai Hong, a.k.a. Die a Violent Death.

The yarns involve one of Thailand's notoriously dangerous public-transport minivans plunging from an elevated expressway, murdered women in the sewer of a brothel, a body stuffed into a hotel room's air-conditioning vent and a young man who leaves the monkhood to seek revenge.

The results are mixed, but the biggest problem has to do with slow pacing. With four stories crammed into just under two hours, they should move a bit faster, but it takes them forever to get going.

Each segment is themed according to numbers, 14, 16, 15 and 13, which are referenced by such things as a button worn by a brothel worker, the room number in a run-down hotel or a record spinning a lullaby to lovers.

Seemingly long silences underline the sluggish pace of the first entry Tok Tangduan, about the falling minivan. The segment, directed by Thammanoon Sakulbunthanom (The Intruder), also suffers from an over-reliance on phones to tell the story, but that's probably intentional because a smartphone plays a vital role in the van plunge. A young woman is leaving the office late. A guy has been calling and texting her, while he's driving his fast red car. But then he's not there, forcing the girl to take the "last van of the evening". The phone messages persist and the surroundings in the van become increasingly spooky until it finally becomes clear that karma has caught up with the young lady, portrayed by Pimchanok "Bai Fern" Luewisetphaibun, and she is on her last ride.

The strongest segment, Tha Lor Soi 9, about the brothel, provides a bit of comic relief. Fan Chan kid star Charlie Trairat is one of a trio of guys who head to the place. His buddy wants to select girl No. 16 for the night, but they run into trouble, mainly from the house's strong-armed transgender madame, hilariously portrayed by transgender actor-director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit. Charlie and another of his pals then end up handcuffed to another customer, played by young comic actor Jazz Chuenchuen. They end up in a sewer that's filled with bodies, and the guy they are handcuffed to is actually a ghost. Decent makeup effects are another highlight of this segment, which is directed by Achira Nokthet, the production designer on Tanwarin's It Gets Better.

Poj himself chips in with the third entry, Pee Nai Chong Ae. It has a tattooed guitar-toting rock 'n' roller (Pharunyoo Rotchanawutthitham) checking into a fleabag hotel, but there's something wrong with the air-con. Beauty-pageant queen Charm Osathanond provides eye candy before she becomes part of the ductwork.

The finale by Thanadol Nualsuth (The Intruder) is an exasperatingly confusing revenge tale. With a chronology that was put in a blender and never put back together, Gam ("bad karma") is very difficult to follow. From what I could piece together, "Golf" Pichaya Nitipaisankul had a falling out with his psycho girlfriend, played by Manatnan "Donut" Phanloetwongsakun, and then entered the monkhood. But she kept hounding him, so he left the monkhood, tracked her down and killed her. Or maybe he killed her and then became a monk? The suspense comes from the spot of bother he runs into while trying to dispose of the body. There's a cameo by a famous leading man who was likely just hanging around the set. He all-too-briefly adds dramatic heft to the segment, and very nearly saves it.

Related posts:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

8th Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference set for July 7-10 in Salaya

The eighth Association of Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference returns to Thailand this year, running from Monday, July 7 to Thursday, July 10 at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhom Pathom.

The conference is themed "“Codes, Kitsch, Camp: Genre in/and Southeast Asian Cinemas”. Here's more from the SEA Conference blog:

Issues of genre have had long-term and continuing importance for the film studies field, but the concept has received little serious critical attention in the specific context of Southeast Asian film. The 8th Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas conference will therefore be interested in interrogating in the broadest terms the relevance and usefulness of the concept for the analysis of Southeast Asian cinema. We seek proposals both for papers that address concepts of genre, in a Southeast Asian context, from a theoretical perspective and for studies of specific Southeast Asian genre trends with industrial and/or textual emphases.

Read on for possible topics.

The full conference program and details will be announced around May or June. Also, registration is free for Thais.

Pen-ek made a movie that you can only watch on TV

When Pen-ek Ratanaruang makes a new feature, it's usually the cause of much anticipation by festival programmers, Thai film fans and world cinema lovers.

However, most outside of Thailand will probably never (legally) see his latest effort, the romantic comedy-drama The Life of Gravity (แรงดึงดูด, Raeng Dueng Dood), unless they subscribe to Thai cable-TV company TrueVisions.

Starring two of Pen-ek's regular cast members – Cris Horwang and Peter Nopachai Chaiyanam from Headshot – the TrueVisions Original Picture was broadcast on Valentine's Day last Friday on TrueVisions Channel 45, the Thaifilm channel. It's produced by Rasarin Tanalerttararom.

The story is about a young woman who ends up on an island inhabited by just one man, and the two are drawn closer together.

The Bangkok Post has more:

A film director usually enjoys (or endures) a longer period of shooting, as well as a bigger team and budget. For this telemovie, the budget was limited to 10 days of filming in a remote location at at a navy base in Sattahip, Chon Buri, where Pen-ek and his team were like a group of castaways as much as the lead characters.

“Normally, we work eight to five like office workers when shooting a movie, which takes months. But we incredibly managed to shoot a 90-minute movie within 10 days, which was physically exhausting for us,” he said. “The intensive filming however brought a big burst of energy and commitment as we concentrated on completing the production within the short time frame.”

The Bangkok Post further notes that TrueVisions proposed releasing The Life of Gravity in cinemas, but Pen-ek balked at that idea, saying "you can't blow up what's made for TV on a 40-foot movie screen".

You'll have to be a TrueVisions subscriber to figure out when the movie will be rebroadcast. But you can get a glimpse of it on your own little screen, with the trailer (embedded below).

Birth of the Seanama reborn in Filmvirus Double Bill

Ten years have passed since the singularly strange Thai experimental film Birth of the Seanama first graced a movie screen.

So it's due for a revival, and will show as part of the opener for a new film series, Filmvirus Double Bill, in which Filmvirus mastermind Wiwat "Filmsick" Lerwiwatwongsa invited his cinephile friends to curate a film program. The double bills start this Sunday, February 23, and runs until March 30 and then April 20 and 27 at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan.

Directed by Sasithorn Ariyavicha, 2004's 70-minute Birth of the Seanama depicts Bangkok rising up from the primordial ooze and then sinking back into it. It's in black and white and totally silent, with no music and no dialogue. There are subtitles in a totally made-up alphabet, though they are helpfully translated into English.

The opening film of the Filmvirus Double Bill is HSP: There is No Escape From the Terrors of the Mind, an Irish-funded feature by Iranian filmmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi. That's at 12.30, followed at 2.45pm by Birth of the Seanama.

Other double bills are from the UK, Separation (1968, Jack Bond) and The Other Side of the Underneath (1972, Jane Arden) on March 2, the Filipino films All Be Damned (1990, Lino Brocka) and Working Girl (1984, Ishmael Bernal) on March 9 and "Euro-centric" Italian, Dillinger è morto (1969, Marco Ferreri) and Dossier 51 (1978, Michel Deville) on March 16.

"Cinema politics" enters the picture on March 23 with Silent Wedding (2008, Horatiu Malale, Romania) and After the Battle (2012, Yousry Nasrallah, Egypt). And March ends with a pair of yakuza dramas, Kinji Fukasaku's Battles Without Honor and Humanity from 1973 and 1967's A Colt Is My Passport by Takashi Nomura.

There's a break for the Thai New Year and then the Double Bills start back up on April 20 with "late cowboy" movies – Purgatory (1999, Uli Edel, US) and John Wayne's swansong in The Shootist (1976, Don Siegel). The closing films on April 27 are "little gems", The Dish and the Spoon (2011, Alison Bagnall, US) and Housekeeping (1987, Bill Forsyth, US).

The venue is the Rewat Buddhinan Room in the basement of the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University, Tha Chan. You'll need to show your I.D. and have it scanned to gain entry. The coolest way to get there is to take the Chao Phraya River Express to Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier and then ride the ferry across to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat pier.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Four Kings

  • Directed by Supakij Tangtadsawat
  • Starring Shahkrit Yamnarm, Thep Pho-ngam, Akarin Akaranithimethara, Patra Athiratkun
  • Released in Thai cinemas on January 31, 2014; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Supakij Tangtadsawat makes his directorial debut with Four Kings (สี่เรียงเซียนโต๊ด, See Riang Sian Tode), a heist flick that aims to recall the team-building of Ocean's Eleven, the card-playing trickery of Rounders and the sleight-of-hand shenanigans of Now You See Me.

Produced by Nonzee Nimibutr, and exhibiting his trademark stylishness, Four Kings holds together for the first hour or so, but then the narrative stumbles. The cool style of the heist flick switches tone and becomes a run-of-the-mill comedy, complete with the usual stereotypes of Thai comedies.

The film begins as a whimsical observation of Thai gambling culture, a culture in which gamblers will bet on anything, right down to what color underwear a mini-skirted woman will flash when she alights from a tuk-tuk.

Into this mix comes veteran comedian Thep Pho-ngam, who firmly anchors the cast as Sian, a conman who makes and sells fake Buddhist amulets. His nephew Riang (Akarin Akaranithimetharat) is a chip off the old block, with many generations of gamblers' blood running through his veins (his mother lost the bet on guessing his gender).

But they lose big when a fixed Muay Thai fight doesn't go the way they expected. And they run into more trouble when nephew Riang tries to sell a fake amulet to an underworld kingpin who had already purchased a similar fake from the uncle.

So they come up with a plan to cheat the kingpin and win back all their money by recruiting Todd, a social-climbing card-sharp magician (Shahkrit Yamnarm). But even with Todd's ability to change cards with a wave of his hand, they still need Sri, a curvy female accomplice (Patra Athiratkun) to distract their mark.

The plan works, sort of, until its revealed why the movie is called Four Kings and not Three Kings and a Queen. Here was a chance to have a strong female character – Sri even picks up a machete at one point and hollers "this is Sparta!" and chases after trade-school thugs. But then they make her a he – even though Patra is a she, an actress who's been the nang'rai (female villain) of many Thai soaps and posed on the cover of Maxim and other lads' mags.

There is confusion and much running and screaming, and the gang gets away. But then, somehow, they come up with a plan to do it all again, only at a casino in Cambodia, where the stakes are higher and the danger of being caught is even greater.

There's a few laughs to be had. A squeaky ball on Sri's rear had folks tittering. A surreal sight gag had Thep in nothing but a pair of muay thai trunks being loaded into a giant gift box with a bow on it as a present to the Cambodian gangster.

The extremely tall and deep-voiced comic-troupe member Akaradej Rojpinit is a bodyguard of the Thai gangster and has a few amusing moments.

There's other female characters too. The Cambodian gangster has a quartet of bad-ass lady bodyguards. But they disappointingly don't end up doing anything at all. Wasted opportunity.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Everybody cry now – Nonzee turns on tearducts for Timeline

Everybody's crying in veteran director Nonzee Nimibutr's romantic drama Timeline Jodmai Khwam Songjam (Timeline จดหมาย-ความทรงจำ).

Popular soap-opera leading man "James" Jirayu Tangsrisuk stars as the teenaged son of a young mother who was widowed early in her marriage.

He is seeking to break free, and thinks he's found that escape when he meets free-spirited female classmate (Jarinporn Joonkiat).

Meanwhile, the mother (Piyathida Worramusik) is reluctant to let go of her son, as well has her feelings for her dead husband. But a long-time male friend (Peter Noppachai Jayanama) hopes she'll lighten up.

The project originally started as a sequel to 2004's hit romance The Letter, which Nonzee produced and had everybody crying, both on screen and in the packed theaters. It was a remake of a hit South Korean romantic drama. Problems with licensing the original story arose and now Nonzee insists that Timeline is not a sequel but a brand new and totally original standalone film.

An article in The Nation has more.

Check out the English-subbed trailer (embedded below) and see if you can keep your eyes from leaking.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pee Mak leads nominees in 23rd Subhanahongsa Awards

The record-breaking box-office smash Pee Mak Phra Khanong continues its domination into awards season, leading the Thai film industry's biggest trophy parade, the Thailand National Film Association Awards, a.k.a. the Subhanahongsa Awards (รางวัลภาพยนตร์แห่งชาติ สุพรรณหงส์) or Golden Swans, with nominations in 13 out of 15 categories, including best picture, director, screenplay and lead actress.

Critically acclaimed indie films, the teen dramas Tang Wong and Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy scored 10 nods each, including best picture, director and screenplay. And the epic studio teen comedy-drama, Grean Fictions, also has 10 nods, including best picture, director and screenplay.

Nominated writer-directors are Banjong Pisunthanakun for Pee Mak, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit for Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy, Kongdej Jaturanrasmee for Tang Wong and Chookiat Sakveerakul for Grean Fictions.

Celebrated director Pen-ek Ratanaruang is nominated along with Pasakorn Pramoolwong for their political documentary Paradoxocracy, which has three nods, including best picture.

But it's teen movies that rule, including the schoolgirl ghost tale Last Summer with six nods.

The wartime romance Koo Kam had five nominations, including best actor for soap hunk Nadech Kugimiya, one of a large crop of teen and twentysomething stars and starlets this year. Young leading man Pattadon "Fiat" Jan-ngern is nominated for his debut role in Grean Fictions and former child star Jirayu La-ongmanee is a nominee for Last Summer.

Actress nominees include Pee Mak's Davika Hoorne, troubled teenager Suthata Udomsilp and the Mary Is Happy pair of Patcha Poonpiriya and Chonnikan Netjui.

A notable snub was Mario Maurer, who went unrecognized for his turn as the title characters in both Pee Mak and in Jan Dara: The Finale.

Pee Mak has 15 nominations in all, including supporting-actor nods for three of the four bumbling friends of Mak.

Other nominees include the romantic comedy Love Syndrome, the teen slasher Thongsuk 13, the Japanese haunted-island yarn Hashima Project, the cabaret-dancer drama Nang Fah and Tony Jaa's martial-arts actioner Tom-Yum-Goong 2, all with two nods apiece.

The nominations are the result of a new voting process instituted by Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand president Visute Poolvoralaks. Dubbed "R+O", the "referee plus open" system aimed to involve some 1,500 members of the film industry, who would vote on the various categories they had expertise in. About half that number voted, with many excusing themselves from the process because they hadn't seen all the films. The "referee" element had the usual industry jury vetting the "open" portion of the voting and carrying most of the weight as the finalist nominees were named.

A story in The Nation today explains more.

The 23rd Subhanahongsa Awards (informally the "Thai Oscars") will be handed out on February 23 at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya.


  • Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Grean Fictions
  • Tang Wong
  • Prachatipathai (Paradoxocracy)


  • Banjong Pisunthanakun, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Chookiat Sakveerakul, Grean Fictions
  • Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
  • Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Pasakorn Pramoolwong, Paradoxocracy


  • Nontra Kumwong, Chantawit Thanasewee and Banjong Pisunthanakun, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Chookiat Sakveerakul and Niwaruj Teekaphowan, Grean Fictions
  • Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
  • Manachaya Panitsarn, Worakorn Virakun, Virasinee Raungprchaubkun, Kimhan Kanchanasomjai and Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke, Love Syndrome


  • Nadech Kugimiya, Koo Kam
  • Pattadon Jan-ngern, Grean Fictions
  • Chinawut Indracusin, Thongsuk 13
  • Jirayu La-ongmanee, Last Summer
  • Phakhin Khamwilaisak, Love Syndrome


  • Davika Hoorne, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Lalita Panyopas, Prayoke Sanya Rak
  • Patcha Poonpiriya, Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy
  • Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Hashima Project
  • Suthata Udomsilp, Last Summer


  • Pongsathorn Jongwilas, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Nattapong Chartpong, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Auttarut Kongrasri, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Chaiyapol Julien Poupart, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, Tang Wong


  • Bongkot Kongmalai, Nang Fah (Angels)
  • Ratha Pho-ngam, Nang Fah (Angels)
  • Chonnikan Netjui, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Laknara Piatha, Grean Fictions
  • Jenjira Jamniansri, Grean Fictions


  • Narupon Chokkanapitak, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Sayompoo Mukdeeprom, Last Summer
  • Pairach Khumwan, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Panom Promchat, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • MR Umpornpol Yugala and Saran Srisingchai, Tang Wong


  • Thammarat Sumethsupachok, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Chonlasit Upanigkit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Max Tersch, Paradoxocracy
  • Manussa Warasingha and Kamonthorn Ekwattanakit, Tang Wong
  • Chookiat Sakveerakul and Jirasak Jakrawan, Grean Fictions


  • Kantana Sound Studio, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Ram Indra Sound Mixing Studio, Tom-Yum-Goong 2
  • Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, Paisit Panpruegsachart and Teekhadet Vucharadhanin, Tang Wong
  • Jettapol Khan, Body Slam Nang Len
  • Kantana Sound Studio, Grean Fictions


  • Sao Karaoke, Namfon Pakdee, Karaoke Girl
  • Hideko, Yusuke Namikawa, Koo Kam
  • Yuewya, Cin Thosaporn Achawanantakul, Last Summer
  • Young Bao, Carabao
  • Dad Lom Fon, Sua Krong Band, Grean Fictions


  • Chatchai Pongprapapan and Hualampong Riddim, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Chatchai Pongprapapan, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Somsiri Sangkaew, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Chaibandit Peuchponsub, Apichai Tragoolpadetgrai and Yellow Fang, Tang Wong
  • Hualampong Riddim and Wichaya Wattanasab, Last Summer


  • Akradej Kaewkote, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Patrick Meesaiyati, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Rasiguet Sookkarn, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Rasiguet Sookkarn, Tang Wong
  • Sarid Noomahan, Grean Fictions


  • Suthee Muanwaja, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Vorathon Krisanakalin, Koo Kam
  • Athit Thriakittiwat, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Cattleya Paosrijaroen, Tang Wong
  • Peem Umaree, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy


  • Pichet Wongjansom, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Amarit Chokprecha and Metapan Pitithanyapat, Last Summer
  • Montri Watlaiad, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Montri Watlaiad, Koo Kam


  • Oriental Post, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Sasee Company, Thongsuk 13
  • Color Boy Film, Post Service, The Common Is, Aiyara Animation and Studio, Weative Studio and Kittipong Umplord, Koo Kam
  • Surreal and Thossaporn Poonnart, Tom-Yum-Goong 2
  • Kantana Post Production, Hashima Project

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Watch: Finalists in Amnesty International animation contest

A scene from Nei, the winning entry in Amnesty's Stop Violence and Torture Contest.

Thai animators took part in Amnesty International's Stop Violence and Torture Animation Contest.

Organized in collaboration with Sputnik Tales Studio, the five finalist entries were screened last week at Bangkok's Lido theater, and the top prize of 50,000 baht went to Dusaya Opap for Nei, about a little girl who witnesses a man being framed for drugs and then beaten by a policeman.

All the animated shorts had to have something to do with "direct wrongdoings by government officials".

With various animation styles, the other four finalist entries were Goat in a Sketchbook, Judge, Watch and The Smith.

There's more about the contest in an article in The Nation today.

You can watch the five finalist animated shorts and vote on them for the popular award until February 25. One view on YouTube is equal to one point; one “like” on Facebook equals three points and one “share” on Facebook totals five points.

For more details, check or the Sputnik Tales Studio YouTube channel.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Berlinale 2014: Jakrawal rolls into Forum Expanded

Stone Cloud

Experimental filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong is taking part in this year's Berlin International Film Festival, with three entries in the Forum Expanded program, Stone Cloud, Hangman and INTRANSIT.

Here's the synopsis for Stone Cloud, a 30-minute short:

A monk asks villagers to move a big stone up to the hill. He wishes to smooth the rock so he can sit on it and meditate. While the monk is sculpting the stone a state of deep contemplation occurs. He sees past, present and future.

“The story in Stone Cloud derives from a monk friend who was ordained and lived in a jungle temple. He was a gifted film director and cinematographer, winning numerous awards before left the worldly life to become an isolated monk. I always try to visit him as much as I can … And every time I saw him and spent the nights at the jungle temple a marvelous peacefulness occurred.” (Jakrawal Nilthamrong)

His other two projects, Hangman and INTRANSIT, are in the group exhibition What Do We Know When We Know Where Something Is?

Hangman is an execution scene based on the memory of the son of the late Mr. Chavoret Jaruboon, Thailand's last executioner who passed away recently of cancer. Coincidentally, he's the subject of an upcoming biographical film The Last Executioner by director Tom Waller and starring Only God Forgives crimefighter Vithaya Pansringarm.

INTRANSIT is a multimedia installation that was the centerpiece of a group exhibition last year at Chulalongkorn Art Center in Bangkok. An ode to a medium that's fast disappearing in this digital age, it featured a loop of film running through a specially-equipped classroom projector. "Through spectacular images of a planet in creation, made using 1960s sci-fi special effects incorporating organic materials, scale models and shooting on 35mm film, INTRANSIT presents a spectacular testament to a medium in transition," says the program description.

According to Jakrawal, he's sending his loop of film to Berlin, with the festival organizers taking care of rigging up a projector to run it.

Another interesting entry in Berlin is Singaporean filmmaker Tan Pin Pin's documentary To Singapore, With Love, which features interviews with Singaporeans living in political exile, including one who lived in Thailand. Controversially, it was dropped from last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok, with the official reason being that the filmmaker hadn't obtained permission to shoot in Thailand from the Thailand Film Office.

Also in Berlin, four young Thai indie filmmakers – Pathompong "Big" Manakitsomboon, Wanlop Rungkumjad, Rasiguet Sookkarn and Sompot "Boat" Chidgasornpongse – are taking part in the Talent Campus.

The 64th Berlin International Film Festival runs from February 6 to 16.

Update: This post has been altered from an earlier version to restate facts about To Singapore, With Love being dropped from the World Film Festival of Bangkok.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

IFFR 2014: Songs of Rice wins Fipresci Award

The Songs of Rice, the new documentary by Uruphong Raksasad, won the Fipresci Award at the 43rd International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Making its world premiere in the Bright Future program, The Songs of Rice (Pleng Khong Kao) is about such rites as rocket festivals, buffalo races and other traditions that are connected to rice cultivation in Thailand. It is Uruphong's third feature, following his collection of short rural tales Stories from the North and his farm-family portrait Agrarian Utopia.

The Jury of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique selected it as the winner of all the 22 world premieres in Bright Future 2014. “Fully relying on its strong cinematography, it creates an immersive sensory experience that makes us part of a vivid community revolving around the cultivation of a tiny grain,” Fipresci said.

The Songs of Rice, produced by Pimpaka Towira and handled by the new company Mosquito Films Distribution, was among a large selection of Thai indie films at Rotterdam this year.

The main competition, the Tiger Awards for first or second-time features, included the European premiere of Concrete Clouds, the feature directorial debut of long-time film editor Lee Chatametikool.

The Tiger Awards went to filmmakers from Japan, Sweden and South Korea: Anatomy of a Paper Clip (Yamamori clip koujo no atari) by Ikeda Akira, Something Must Break (Nånting måste gå sönder) by Ester Martin Bergsmark and Han Gong-Ju by Lee Su-Jin.

Rotterdam also has a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, and the NETPAC Award when to 28 by Prasanna Jayakody from Sri Lanka.

There's a trailer for The Songs of Rice posted by IFFR. It's embedded below.