Saturday, June 25, 2016

Festival, festival (and awards)! Here be dragons for The Forest; Heart Attack and Grace in NYAFF

The Forest producer David Cluck cradles the Golden Dragon.

The Forest, the new thriller from Paul Spurrier, the Bangkok-based British filmmaker who makes Thai films, is continuing to tour the festival circuit, and recently won an award at the Ferrara Film Festival in Italy.

Producer David Cluck was in Ferrara, and he picked up the Golden Dragon Award for Best Director for Spurrier. The attractive trophy now occupies a newly installed shelf in Spurrier's Friese-Greene Club in Bangkok. Perhaps more shelves for more trophies will be put up.

You can find out more about the award on the the Facebook page for The Forest.

Meanwhile, Spurrier says he's submitted the film to the Thai Culture Ministry's ratings/censorship process and awaits word of whether he'll be able to show The Forest in the country where it was made.

And now some news about one of my favorite film festivals that I've never been to – the New York Asian Film Festival. After recent years of programming not so terribly much in the way of Southeast Asian films, the NYAFF has loaded up with a decent selection from the region, including two Thai films, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's Heart Attack (known in Thailand as Freelance .. Ham Puay Ham Phak Ham Rak More, ฟรีแลนซ์.. ห้ามป่วย ห้ามพัก ห้ามรักหมอ) and Grace, which was released in January as Awasarn Loke Suay (อวสานโลกสวย).

Heart Attack – that's Nawapol's original and preferred title – is the multi-award-winning comedy-drama about a freelance graphic artist who works too hard and comes down with a rash. He's treated by a young female internist at a public hospital. She is working through her own issues.

A sprawling piece of quirk, Heart Attack humorously comments on many, many aspects of Thai society, and is wholly a Nawapol indie joint, just with the addition of marquee-name stars and marketing muscle from the studio GTH, which broke up toward the end of last year and then reformed (minus one partner) as GDH 559. They will be back in action shortly with a new slate of films.

Grace, an indie effort that was released by Kantana Motion Pictures is a pulpy exploitation story of an Internet idol, played with gusto by Thai indie-film darling Apinya Sakuljareonsuk. She turns murderous when her status as the Thailand's Top Net Idol is threatened by young upstarts. Two versions were supposedly released in Thai cinemas, one as an 18+ that anybody could see and another with the restrictive 20- rating, which you're supposed to show an I.D. to see. I saw the 20- one and I guess it must have really freaked me out, because I never got around to writing a review.

Saipan Apinya, a fierce, hard-working young actress whose break-out role was in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy, will put in an appearance at the NYAFF, which runs until July 9, so ask her questions if you dare.

The festival trailer is embedded below.

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