Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Not at a Theatre Near You

. . . and how you should be so wishing that "they" were. By "they" I mean good quality Thai independent films.  

I wrote an article in Thailand Tatler this month about how the greatest Thai films journey to international festivals and their creators are lauded abroad and in some cases are heroes but here in Thailand, they are not really given the time or funding that they deserve.  Times they are A-changin, a little, but definitely not enough, just because there is a film fund does not mean that things are different, especially when the Ministry of Culture are forced to defend themselves against protest for granting 100 million baht from a 200 million baht fund to one director for the 3rd sequel of his epic, very expensive film.  This has received a lot of attention and rightly so, as there is evidently something wrong when this can happen, i.e. when a Minister's discretion favours one man over many, and not because the many are not talented or able but because pre-conceived notions of what is culture or talent.  There is definitely no scope for using lack of merit in this case when these indepedent directors get funding and awards across the globe, their works meet and exceed international expectations.  It is a bit funny that they until recently and in a strange (italicised because the above scenario) way have only managed to garner support here. My little intro as to what the festivals mean and who the talents are. . . check out Thailand Tatler May 2010 - on newstands now.

A still from Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Recalls his Last Life - the cover for my Tatler feature . . . photo courtesy of Kick the Machine

Although not at a theatre near us yet but will be in competition in the Official Selection at Cannes next week is Apichatpong Weerasethakul's newest feature Uncle Boonmee Recalls his Last Life. Once again, Apichatpong, or P'Joei is up for the Palme  d'Or and thus a de facto national HERO, to me at least and I believe also to many.  It is evident that no compromises are made and if ever there is a director with integrity, it is him - it is evident in his work as well as his protest currently, together with P'Manit vs Ministry of Culture for the farce mentioned above.  It is no surprise then that he is also nominated for the Hugo Boss Art Prize this year.  

Uncle Boonmee Recalls his Last Life trailer
The trailer for his Cannes entry was just posted . . .it gives me goose bumps over and over again . . . There is something about the pace and the way the images speak to each other that in just 2:33 minutes one is at the edge of ones seat and lusting to see the film.  This clearly is the result of some genius editting.  I was not so sure what film editting was until I read Lee Chatametikool's interview that I stumbled across and have since found out that P'Lee is a long term collaborator of P'Joei's, and is the editor responsible for every important Thai film that has left this country in recent years and received funding and won prestigious awards abroad in the last few years.  Thus it is no coincidence that talent finds talent, no matter how destitute the environment in which they exist.  P'Lee's first feature is called, Past Love, but we will need to wait a little while to see it, but if his track record and his producers (P'Joei, Anocha and P'Thongdee) are anything to go by, it will be worth the wait. . . and hopefully by then things will have changed and a film like his will be a theatres near you.

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