Monday, May 5, 2014

Cannes 2014: Thai Night set for May 17, Lao film to be pitched

No Thai films were in the official selection for the 67th Cannes Film Festival, but as always, concerned bureaucrats will lead a junket of Thai film industry figures to the croisette to tout their achievements of the past year.

They've set the annual Thai Night for May 17. Here's the press release:

Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi will preside over Thai Night 2014 - Where Films Come Alive, an event in honour of Thai cinema held during the international film festival.

Held in Cannes on May 17 by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), Royal Thai Ministry of Commerce, the event will place a special focus on Thailand's action cinema under the slogan "Thailand: At the Heart of the Action", with an exclusive showcase of "Muay Boran" (ancient Thai Boxing) performed by the cast of Muay Thai Live, Bangkok's critically-acclaimed new stage show.

Action and horror have contributed to turn 2013 into a banner year for the Thai film industry. The domestic box office grew almost 100 percent to reach 2 billion baht (USD62M), from a little over 1.1 billion baht (USD34M) in 2012. The highlights of 2013 were the historical epic King Naresuan 5 [n.b. – the release is actually set for May 29, 2014], the second instalment of the action franchise Tom-Yum-Goong 2, and the horror-comedy phenomenon Pee Mak Phra Khanong, which became the most successful Thai film of all times and ended up raking over USD10M during its theatrical release.

Independent filmmakers are also making headlines, as demonstrated by one of the big winners at the Thai Film Awards this year: the quirky Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy, a groundbreaking coming-of-age story adapted from a real girl's 410 tweets. The film, which was made with a grant from the Venice Film Festival, was released at the end of 2013 and became an instant sensation among young viewers.

While the local industry keeps growing, Thailand continues to be extremely attractive to foreign productions, cementing its position as Southeast Asia's main production hub. In 2013, a record 67 foreign motion pictures were filmed in Thailand, a 26% increase from the year prior. Recent highlights include Cannes 2013’s official competition’s Only God Forgives starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, The Railway Man starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, and the upcoming The Coup, an action film starring Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan and Lake [B]ell. And this does not take into account the larger number of films which are being post-produced in Thailand, making use of the country's state-of-the-art facilities and technicians.

This remarkable success relies not only on the country's beautiful locations, its world-class hospitality industry and its low production costs, but also on the strength of the local industry. Having gone through a rapid period of modernization and professionalization, the Thai entertainment industry now offers among the most skilled film crews and technical services available in Asia, contributing US$2.22 billion to the local economy and supporting 86,600 jobs.

All these accomplishments will be at the centre of Thai Night 2014 - Where Films Come Alive. Held in the presence of the Permanent Secretary - Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the Deputy Permanent Secretary - Thai Ministry of Culture, and the Director General - Department of International Trade Promotion of the Thai Ministry of Commerce, the event will give an opportunity to film professionals from around the world to network with Thai filmmakers and forge new ties with the Thai film industry.

Mattie Do
Meanwhile, Thailand's neighbor, the newly emergent Laos, enters the picture in Cannes for the first time.

Mattie Do is seeking to follow-up her historic debut thriller Chanthaly, Laos' first horror film and first feature by a female director.

She's lined up to shop her next project Dearest Sister as part of La Fabrique Les Cinemas du Monde, a market event and masterclass for first- and second-time feature directors.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 14 to 25.

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