Monday, May 4, 2015

Cannes 2015: Wisit's Suriya back in the ring at Thai Pitch

Wisit Sasanatieng's long-in-development Suriya is among a trio of projects vying for backers at the second edition of the relaunched Thai Pitch, which takes place on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival.

Others taking part in Thai Pitch 2015 will be veteran helmer Sananjit Bangsapan with Uncle Ho and indie talent Wasunan Hutawet with Sydney.

Suriya is a biographical drama about an infamous Muay Thai fighter whose ingeniousness in the ring was contrasted by personal struggles outside. It could potentially be a Thai boxing version of Raging Bull, and would be Wisit's first feature since 2010's Red Eagle. It also marks a return to Cannes for the Thai New Wave veteran. Wisit's directorial debut, 2000's Tears of the Black Tiger, was the first Thai film to be officially selected for Cannes; it competed in the Un Certain Regard line-up. Athimes Arunroj-angkul (Phobia 2, Karaoke Girl) is producing Suriya, which has been pitched at other project markets over the years.

Sananjit, meanwhile, is seeking to make his return in the film industry. He previously did the gritty gunman tale Hit Man File in 2005 and the women-in-prison drama Butterfly in Grey in 2002. His Uncle Ho follows the exploits of a young Ho Chi Minh, who briefly lived in the northeastern city of Nakhon Phanom in the 1920s. While doing some organizing for the Communist Party in Thailand, the young Ho is targeted by a French assassin. Supong Javanasundara (Hit Man File) and Nakorn Veerapavati are producing.

And with Sydney, Wasunan, an alumnae of the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2012, seeks to make her feature directorial debut. It's the story of a young woman from the countryside who moves to Bangkok full of hope but soon falls into despair. Soros Sokhum (Wonderful Town, So Be It) and Parinee Buthrasri are the producers.

The Thai Pitch was relaunched in 2013 after a five-year absence from the Croisette.  It is coordinated by producer Raymond Phathanavirangoon (Headshot, Tokyo Sonata) and will be held at the Thai Pavilion.

The three film projects will bolster a growing Thai presence at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which is headlined by the return of the 2010 Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul with his new feature Cemetery of Splendour. It is in the official selection for the Un Certain Regard program. It will be Apichatpong's fourth time in competition in Cannes, where he won the Un Certain Regard in 2002 with Blissfully Yours, the jury prize in 2004 with Tropical Malady and the Golden Palm in 2010 with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

And actress-model "Chompoo" Araya A. Hargate returns for her third consecutive year as camera fodder for the red carpet. Among the many products she pitches, Chompoo is a spokesmodel for cosmetics brand L'Oreal, which has sponsored her trips and handled her designer wardrobe for appearances at Cannes since 2013.

More coverage of this year's Thai Pitch can be found at The Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily and Film Business Asia.

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