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Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 1:05PM / Members onlywhen The Killing Fields was at the Oscars, has Southeast Asia had as big a presence as it did at the Academy Awards. This year, the buzz was about Cambodia landing its first nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and the best documentary feature nominee The Act of Killing, covering the work of the Indonesian anti-communist death squads of the 1960s.
But when all the golden statuettes were handed out, it was the Philippines and Thailand that were celebrating, both thanks to connections with the Best Animated Feature winner, Disney's Frozen.
Pinoy pride kicked in when "Let It Go" from Frozen was picked as Best Original Song. The hit track, performed in the film by Wicked Broadway star Idina Menzel (a.k.a. Adele Dezeem), was written by Filipino-American Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon) and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
And then a smiling young bespectacled Thai woman turned up in the social media holding the Best Animated Feature Oscar for Frozen and the image went viral. She's Fawn Veerasunthorn, who works as a story artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank. A graduate of Mahidol University in Thailand and the Columbus College of Art and Design, her credits also include work on Pink Panther and Pals, the Despicable Me short Minion Madness and storyboarding a Road Runner cartoon for Looney Tunes. More of her work can be seen at Bluefoot Studios.
Although the trophy went to Frozen directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer Peter Del Vecho, in spirit, the entire crew shares in the Oscar glory. And according to Soopsip in The Nation, that not only includes Fawn, but two other Thais as well, visual-development artist Sunny Apinchapong and effects apprentice Rattanin Sirinaruemarn.ATTENTION: This is a post from Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. The url for the source blog is http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com. If you're seeing this post anywhere besides your personal feed reader or a couple of social-networking sites, then it might be being misused against the spirit in which it is made freely available.
Thursday, Mar 6, 2014 1:05PM / Members only
The opening film will be At Berkeley, a brand-new work by documentarian Frederic Wiseman. Running for four hours, it chronicles the debate over tuition increases and budget cuts at the University of California at Berkeley.
The Songs of Rice, the latest feature by Agrarian Utopia director Urupong Raksasad, will be the closing film. It was among a big crop of Thai films at this year's International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it made its world premiere and was given the Fipresci Award.
The Missing Picture, the first Foreign Language Film nominee for Cambodia at the Academy Awards, is the latest work by Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh to examine the legacy of the Khmer Rouge. It combines archival footage and uses clay figures of his vanished family members in a bid to reconstruct fading memories. It makes its Thai premiere in a special screening.
Another special screening will be Receiving Torpedo Boat (การรับเรือตอร์ปิโด), 1935 footage by Luang Kolakarn Jan-Jit (Pao Wasuwat) about Royal Thai Marines going to Italy to acquire a torpedo boat. The film was added last year to the Registry of Films as National Heritage.
The Director in Focus this year is Kazuhiro Soda, with screenings of two of his films, Campaign 1 and Campaign 2
There will also be a selection of UK-produced documentaries co-presented by the British Council – Rough Aunties, Requiem for Detroit, Moving to Mars and Soundtrack for a Revolution.
Details are still being hammered out on the entries in this year's Southeast Asian documentary competition.
The fest runs from March 22 to 29 at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom with a concurrent program at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center from March 25 to 28 and March 30.
For more details, keep an eye on Salaya Doc's Facebook page.ATTENTION: This is a post from Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. The url for the source blog is http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com. If you're seeing this post anywhere besides your personal feed reader or a couple of social-networking sites, then it might be being misused against the spirit in which it is made freely available.
Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014 2:20AM / Members only
The three films were also the top nominees at the recent Subhanahongsa Awards, and the Bangkok Critics' selection largely mirrors the Thai film industry's biggest trophy parade.
The teenybopper ghost romance Pee Mak Phra Khanong and the teen dramas Tang Wong and Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy each have nine nominations, including best picture, director, acting and screenplay.
At the Subhanahongsas, the low-budget indie dramas Tang Wong and Mary came away the big winners, leaving the big-studio box-office record-holder Pee Mak with just one prize.
Other leading nominees in the Critics' Awards include the teen drama Grean Fictions with seven nods, including best picture, director and screenplay. The teen ghost thriller Last Summer, the rom-com Love Syndrome, the older-woman-young man romance Prayoke Sanya Rak and the docu-drama Karaoke Girl each have four nominations. The wartime romance Koo Kam and the teen slasher Thongsuk 13 each have three.
Although the industry-organized Subhanahongsas have started to give more recognition to indie films in recent years, the Bangkok Critics have traditionally been more receptive to the low-budget art-house features that make it big on the festival circuit, and have been particularly keen on any documentaries that make it to Thai cinemas. Though oddly, the political documentary Paradoxocracy, which was nominated at the Subhanahongsas, is left off the list.
Anyway, current trends are reflected most this year in a new category, Best Young Filmmaker, honoring a crop of first-time feature directors. Nominees include Nontawat Numbenchapol, who is also up for best director with his Thai-Cambodian border doc Boundary. Twin sisters Wanwaew and Waewwan Hongwiwat are nominated for Wish Us Luck, which documented their monthlong train journey from England to Thailand. Bongkot Kongmalai, whose acting credits go back to her late teens with 2000's Bang Rajan, made her feature directorial debut with co-director Wiroj Srisithsereeamorn on Angels (Nang Fah). Palatpon Mingpornpichit is a nominee for Prayoke Sanya Rak, which is also nominated for best actor and actress and song. Visra Vichit-Vadakan is named for Karaoke Girl, which is also nominated for best actress, cinematography and song. And MR Chalermchatri Yukol, son of MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, is recognized for his feature debut The Cop (Sarawat Mah Baa).
The Critics’ Awards will be presented at 6pm on March 26 at the Royal Thai Army Club.
- Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
- Grean Fictions
- Tang Wong
- Love Syndrome Rak Ngo Ngo
- Banjong Pisunthanakun, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
- Chookiat Sakveerakul, Grean Fictions
- Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
- Nontawat Numbenchapol, Boundary
- Nadech Kugimiya, Khoo Kam
- Pattadon Janngern, Grean Fictions
- Krissada Sukosol Clapp, Pawnshop
- Mario Maurer, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Setthapong Phiangpor, Prayoke Sanya Rak
- Keerati Mahaphrukpong, Love Syndrome
- Lalita Panyopas, Prayoke Sanya Rak
- Patcha Poonpiriya, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
- Sa Sitthijan, Karaoke Girl
- Suthata Udomsilp, Last Summer
- Auttarut Kongrasri, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, Tang Wong
- Kittisak Pathomburana, Grean Fictions
- Jirayu La-ongmanee, Last Summer
- Arak Amornsupasiri, Young Bao
- Chonnikan Netjui, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
- Natharat Lekha, Tang Wong
- Titirat Rojsangrat, Love Syndrome
- Wanida Termthanaporn, Grean Fictions
- Sucha Manaying, Hashima Project
- 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
- Thammarat Sumethsupachok, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Chonlasit Upanigkit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
- Manussa Warasingha and Kamonthorn Ekwattanakit, Tang Wong
- Chookiat Sakveerakul and Jirasak Jakrawan, Grean Fictions
- Chalermsak Klangjaroen, Adirek Watleela and Taweewat Wantha, Thongsuk 13
- Narupon Chokkanapitak, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Sayompoo Mukdeeprom, Last Summer
- Pairach Khumwan, Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy
- Sandi Sissel and Chananan Choterungroj, Karaoke Girl
- MR Umpornpol Yugala, Saran Srisingchai, Tang Wong
- Akradej Kaewkote, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
- Rasiguet Sookkarn, Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy
- Rasiguet Sookkarn, Tang Wong
- Warakorn Poonsawas, Thongsuk 13
- 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
- Giant Wave, Thongsuk 13
- "Sao Karaoke", Kampee Sangthong, Karaoke Girl
- "Hideko", Yusuke Namikawa and Wichaya Wattanasap, Khoo Kam
- "Yuewya", Cin Thosaporn Achawanantakul, Last Summer
- "Chan Rak Ther", Rerkchai Paungpetch and Chansa Mettapan, Fud Jung To
- "Khem Nalika", Kunlapon Samsen and Warat Prasertlab, Prayoke Sanya Rak
Young Filmmaker Award
- Wanwaew and Waewwan Hongwiwat, Wish Us Luck (Khor Hai Rao Chokdee)
- Bongkoj Khongmalai and Wiroj Srisithsereeamorn, Nang Fah
- Palatpon Mingpornpichit, Prayoke Sanya Rak
- Nontawat Numbenchapol, Boundary
- MR Chalermchatri Yukol, Sarawat Mah Baa
- Visra Vichit-Vadakan. Karaoke Girl
Box Office Award – Pee Mak Phra Khanong
Lifetime Achievement Award – Pitsamai Wilaisak
(Via The Nation)ATTENTION: This is a post from Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. The url for the source blog is http://thaifilmjournal.blogspot.com. If you're seeing this post anywhere besides your personal feed reader or a couple of social-networking sites, then it might be being misused against the spirit in which it is made freely available.
Monday, Mar 3, 2014 9:18PM / Members only
- Directed by Nonzee Nimibutr
- Starring Jirayu Tangsrisuk, Jarinporn Joonkiat, Piyathida Worramusik, Noppachai Chaiyanam
- Released in Thai cinemas on February 14, 2014; rated 15+
- Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5
Someone dies in Timeline Jodmai Khwam Songjam (Timeline จดหมาย-ความทรงจำ). But that's not a spoiler, because a death sets up the story of this tragic romance and family drama by Nonzee Nimibutr.
Try as hard as he might, Nonzee failed to bring me to tears with this sad story of missed connections, misplaced desires and general hard-headedness. Which is saying something, because, for example, if I just think about the ending of John Ford's The Searchers, I'll bawl like a big baby. So it's not like I have a heart of stone.
Everyone is crying in Timeline, which is beautifully filmed against a breathtakingly idyllic rural backdrop, features strong performances by a talented cast and has many cute nods to contemporary Thai society, with plenty of Facebooking, smartphones, vintage bicycles and animated drawings. Oh, and there's a puppy! But the movie is emotionally bereft.
The set-up involves Piyathida Worramusik as an achingly young mother who was widowed early in her marriage while she was pregnant. Living on small farm in the hills of Chiang Mai, she tends to her late husband's dream of growing strawberries and holds tight to her memories of him, reading letters that he wrote her. When her young son Tan grows old enough, she has him read dad's old letters to her.
It's a routine Tan ("James" Jirayu Tangsrisuk) has grown weary of, and as he's reading the letters, which he's memorized, he's actually looking at his phone. Tan wants off the farm, and wants to go to university in Bangkok and become a cartoonist. His mother wants him to attend agricultural college and stay close to home.
Eventually, the stubborn mom relents, and Tan is on the bus to Bangkok. As the country boy tries to get his around the fact that he's in the big city, he also experiences his first taste of alcohol, courtesy of a pair of comic-relief roommates. Late to wake up the next morning, he rushes off to school and is tardy to the freshman orientation – a hazing ritual. Also arriving late is June (Jarinporn Joonkiat), a plucky Bangkok girl with a big goofy smile. She and Tan are singled out for special attention and made to look like dogs.
They are a cute couple and form an easy bond as they bicycle their way around the city, share many classes and take a day trip that turns into an innocent overnighter on the beach on Si Chang island.
But Tan isn't picking up on June's signals. He chases after Orn, the more-conventionally attractive filmmaking cousin of June. Orn, who's way out of Tan's league, treats the farmboy like a doormat. But Tan is so besotted he doesn't care, and June slips away to pursue her own dreams in Japan.
Meanwhile back at home, Tan's mother Mat struggles to keep the berry farm a going concern. Wat (Noppachai Chaiyanam), a produce buyer and longtime family friend, wants to help. But heartbreakingly headstrong Mat, who holds tight to her dead husband's spirit, refuses the handsome man's advances.
There are parallels made. June teaches herself to make Tan's favorite stir-fried vegetable dish while Mat learns to make strawberry jam. And June and Mat actually meet and bond during a weekend of filmmaking by Tan and that other girl. Chemistrywise, it'd be nice to see more of Piyathida (Laddaland) and young Jarinporn (Dear Galileo, Countdown) together.
Young soap hunk James Ji is an appealing face fresh but his character is so frustrating I wished I could've reached up into the screen and slapped some sense into him. Piyathida's obstinate character is pretty painful to watch at times as well, but you get the feeling that maybe she might've eventually lightened up and accepted a bit of joy into her sorrow-filled life.
Timeline began as a loose sequel to The Letter, a hit 2004 drama that Nonzee produced and famously had audiences crying so much the cinemas had to hand out tissues with the tickets. It was a remake of a South Korean drama. Nonzee now insists that Timeline has nothing at all to do with The Letter, even though letters are a big part of the movie. Timeline also owes a debt to Bhandit Rittakol's Boonchoo series of comedies, about a country boy who goes to college in the big city and trafficked in the same type of idealized nostalgia that Timeline evokes.
Whether Thai audiences are going for it is debatable. Timeline opened at a distant No. 2 and at the most recent count was in third place – good enough to stay ahead of The Monuments Men and Saving Mr. Banks but not enough to draw eyes away from the likes of the RoboCop remake or the lava-laden 3D spectacle of Pompeii.
Thursday, Feb 27, 2014 9:48PM / Members only
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.
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