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Monday, Mar 10, 2014 8:31PM / Members onlyPee Mak will make its U.S. premiere in San Francisco at CAAMFest 2014, along with another Thai film, the documentary-drama Karaoke Girl.
Put on by the Center for Asian American Media, CAAMFest might still be better known by its less-succinct moniker, the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), which it dropped last year.
Here's the synopsis for Pee Mak:
Shutter co-director Banjong Pisanthanakun’s No. 1 Thai box office hit, Pee Mak, is a hilarious send-up of horror movie conventions that owes as much to Scary Movie 3 as it does to Thailand’s favorite lovelorn ghost, Mae Nak. Every Thai child knows the tale: wounded country boy Mak returns home to his village after the war – this time around with his four best buddies in tow – to reunite with his love and their son, only something is not quite right.
While Mak gets mushy with his devoted bride (Thai/Belgian model Davika Hoorne), the four friends set up in a neighboring house that has conveniently been abandoned by frightened villagers – everyone seems to believe Mak’s wife is a ghost, and not without good reason. Between all the stringy long black hair, outrageous physical gags and genuine scares, you might gloss over the film’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it barrage of on-point cultural references and its luxe cinematography. Try to keep your eyes open: Pee Mak is a rare treat – certified art and certified pop.
And the synopsis for Karaoke Girl:
Sa Sittijun sings in the karaoke clubs of Thailand, opening the film with a teary ballad. Born to hard-scrabbling farmer parents in rural Thailand, Sa is devalued from the moment of her birth, living on the downside of gender and class social hierarchies.
In this inviting film that’s part-documentary, part-fictionalized account of her story, we follow Sa as she makes her way to Bangkok to find work. Poverty and desire tangle to create intractable situations that leave her suffering – from breaking eggs in a cake factory to throwing herself in the arms of strangers trying to find love. Yet, there is a charming hope for Sa to emerge from this hidden life as a survivor and heroine.
“Only your tonight, not your forever … How does a karaoke girl find love?” A touching question, sure to stir compassion.
Director Visra Vichit-Vadakan will be in attendance at CAAMFest. Her film will be preceded by a short, the similarly themed Amazing Grace by U.S. filmmakers Faye Viviana and Haley Sims.
Other entries include Cambodia's first Foreign Language Film nominee The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh, the documentary Cambodian Son, Singapore's Ilo Ilo, the Indonesian experimental short A Lady Caddy Who Never Saw A Hole In One, the Filipino-French gay romantic documentary Jazz In Love, the Filipino documentary short My Revolutionary Mother and animation from the Philippines in Milkyboy. Vietnam chips in with Ham Tran's latest, the comedy How to Fight in Six Inch Heels, along with the short documentary Employed Identity and the award-winning short Burn to Send.
CAAMFest 2014 runs from March 13 to 23 at various venues in the Bay Area.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 10, 2014 8:30PM / Members onlyFollowing his bigger-budget international co-productions Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves, Pen-ek Ratanaruang wanted to make a smaller movie. So in 2007, he came up with Ploy (พลอย), about a jet-lagged Thai-American couple whose bickering comes to a boil when the husband brings a curly headed teenage girl back to their Bangkok hotel room.
The tense thriller made its mark when it premiered at the Cannes Directors Fortnight but was censored for its Thai theatrical release. It then dropped off the map for much of the English-speaking world.
Ploy never got an English-subtitled DVD release, but for the past year or so it has been available for streaming on Netflix.
That's where the AV Club's A.A. Dowd caught it recently. He watched it as part of a series of hotel-themed films for the AV Club, ahead of the U.S. release of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Here's a snip:
Those seeking a representative introduction to [Pen-ek's] work could do no better than the 2007 relationship drama Ploy, about a married couple whose domestic discontent comes to a head during a sleepless trip abroad. Back in Bangkok for a funeral after several years in the States, restaurateur Wit (Pornwut Sarasin) and his ex-actress wife, Daeng (Lalita Panyopas), retreat to a hotel in the wee hours of the morning. The unspoken tension between them explodes into outright hostility when Wit meets a teenage waif (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, sporting an afro and a black eye) and invites her to crash in their rented room. From here, the lines separating fantasy and reality begin to blur, as flashes of an erotic, unrelated subplot—and hints of real danger lurking elsewhere in the building – transform the film into more than just another war of the roses.
Ploy is among nearly two dozen Thai-language films available on Netflix. Others include Magnet Releasing's slate of Sahamongkol action films, such as Ong-Bak 2 and Ong-Bak 3. There's also the children's boxing documentary Buffalo Girls, Aditya Assarat's indie drama Wonderful Town, the 2005 historical-musical drama The Overture and GTH's 2003 hit Fan Chan (My Girl). And, there's a weird film that's worth a look, 2002's post-apocalyptic action-comedy Goodman Town.
The roster changes from time to time as licensing agreements expire on older titles. For example, Tears of the Black Tiger, supposedly the Miramax version, used to be available.
Others by Pen-ek that are currently available include Headshot, the under-appreciated Invisible Waves and my favorite of his, Monrak Transistor.
So perhaps there's life beyond Thai cable television after all for Pen-ek's latest effort, the made-for-TrueVisions movie The Life of Gravity (แรงดึงดูด, Raeng Dueng Dood). Maybe subscribers could tip Netflix off to this new film by Pen-ek?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 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.
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)
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