Monday, October 16, 2006

World Film Festival of Bangkok

Well anybody who is anybody is in Pusan right now ploughing through the multitude of offerings at the Pusan Film market and Pusan Film Festival. Follow this by reading Grady's blog at:

Then there is me. I stumbled across this much smaller and less prestigious festival here in Thailand. It has caused a bit of a ruckus of sorts because most of the film people here apparently can't even understand why it exists. They don't think that Thailand needs two international film festivals and they already have the grander Bangkok International Film Festival in January. I say the more the merrier - there are certainly enough films being produced in the world today to support two festivals I would guess. Look at New York City that has a few fests pretty much every weekend it seems. The folks at the BIFF claim that they will be bigger than Pusan within five years, but somehow I doubt it. I just don't think Thailand has the film culture to support a giant film festival, but they do get loads of money to put on the shindig - last year 10 million dollars. It sounds kind of like wrestling federations but the WFFB says they are all about the films, while the BIFF is all about celebrity. I hate to say it but celebrity will always win that battle.

At any rate they have some decent offerings that can be found here:

Interestingly, I could not find an American film within the bunch. "The Banquet" was the opening film, but I already saw that in Malaysia. I picked up tickets today to see "Isabella" (HK) which I already saw on DVD but have wanted to see again and this will be perfect, "Sanctuary Rhapsody" - a Thai premiere, "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" the new one from Tsai Ming Liang, "Climate" - which I believe will be my virgin Turkish film, "Silence will Speak", another Thai premiere, "12:08 East of Bucharest" and "The Caiman" from Italy. Wow - two totally non-Asian films!

Today I checked out a series of Thai shorts that had a theme around them of peace and conflict.

Thailand has been troubled greatly over the past few years with a conflict in their south in which Muslims have been seeking more autonomy and often using violence as their means. A number of the short films addressed this issue. "Dream Team" for example is a story about a new friendship created by their mutual interest in the Liverpool football team between a young Muslim man and a Buddhist novice monk - but in the end the Muslim leaves to join the fray. A documentary "Wat Na Proe School" shows how a small village with a mix of both religions has made an effort to learn how to live together and to protect each other from extremists from both sides. "Weight of a Gun" was perhaps the most creative film from a technical slant - a jittery black and white shot film about paranoia and fear. The most enjoyable film by far though was the comic "Hamburger Boy" which has four school boys and their classmates receieving an assignment to put together a menu and cook it in class. The boys decide to cook a hamburger because no one in their rural town has had one. When the dog eats the bun, they have to get creative. A very sweet film and director Siwadol Rathee might be someone to keep an eye on.

The fest ends with a showing of "Battleship Potemkin" on the 23rd, but I will happily be on my way to Angkor Wat to meet up with another Asian film crazy fan! We may even find time to visit a couple of those old ruins! But before that I should have some follow-ups on the films I see here. Who needs Pusan!


Anonymous said...

No way the BKIFF will be bigger than Busan. The Film Market was terrible, they don't even involve the locals (no Thai subtitles), and the money is spent to fly in greying Hollywood guys and their entourage. Very badly organised and quite unimaginative programming.

Brian said...

Ya I have heard it was a mess last year being run by some company out of LA who handed out freebies to all their friends. I can't say this other fest now in its forth year is much to get excited about either - but more on that in my next post.