Friday, 25 March 2011

Hong Kong Hero

Uncle Boonmee (though he is no longer with us) was the first person Apichatpong Weerasethakul thanked as he accepted the Best Film Award for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, at the 5th Annual Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong last Monday night.

P'Joei has been globetrotting around the world with very little time to rest for the success of Uncle Boonmee has been just phenomenal and as he said on Monday night, for such a small film, it has come so far and he is very proud. A hero in HK with his small film against big budget Chinese ones, this should give us some hope. I believe that it does.

There were some especially memorable moments that night with the speeches made for Japan, in the light of earthquake, tsunami,and nuclear catastrophe. It is always seen as somewhat decadent when a natural disaster hits or political turmoil is rife for entertainment awards to go on, in this case, the Japanese contingency showed their resilience and strength by being there. I found the speech by Thomas Yoda, the director of the Tokyo International Film Festival to be sincere and most touching. The Chinese blockbuster Aftershock which was about the aftershock of a huge earthquake in China was a tale about the human spirit and the human will to survive, this was somewhat appropriate and relevant that night.

I went along to the Award Ceremony and was very lucky to have been taken care of by Norman Wang and his friend Helen so I had a pretty good seat and could see all the action pretty up close. Apart from P'Joei's win which was certainly the best monment of the night for me there was an awesome performance by an Indian band called Indian Ocean, sensational, so fun and a bit of exoticism to what would otherwise have been a rather grand, quite formal Chinese affair . The band won best score for an Indian film called Peepli Live. I did like how these big blockbusters sat alongside small indie productions and both were recognised. Rather refreshing. It was nice to have a brief catch up with Harvey Weinstein, in a rather jolly mood, I would be too though if I had the victories he had for his recent films, The King's Speech and not to mention The Fighter and the reception Blue Valentine has had. I will forever agree with VF that Harvey is probably one of the last cinema impresarios, love or hate him, I find him rather inspiring.

The AFA after party was quite fun, especially as dinner was served (the award ceremony took HOURS and we were famished)and in true Asian style, the big sponsor, Audi was in full display with a vehicle placed in the centre of the room. Nonetheless, I did enjoy seeing P'Joei congratulated and applauded as he did the rounds at the party:)

Me and P'Joei

Lee and I

The AFA was a highlight though I was actually in HK for Filmart which is this humongous film market that is part of Hong Kong's annual entertainment expo. It was my first time, not so different from Art Fairs and I suppose Fashion Salons but this was a whole different ball game, films were being bought and sold. I saw a brilliant documentary about Sir Norman Foster called "How Much Does Your Building Weigh Mr Foster?" and the short films commissioned by the HKIFF Society. The Malaysian short was great, cheeky, funny but still quite dark and I liked Apichatpong's M Hotel for its imagery and mood, again, dreamy but this time a bit grittier. At first I was a little confused and after some time it just sort of sucks you in.

It is customary to have a press junket for the best film winner the next day and I had the chance to sit in to watch P'Joei answer many questions in the most fluent and thought provoking way. In the background was a poster of Ananda Everingham, this too was part of what was being unveiled that morning. His new project, a film that he will be producing, Lee Chatametikool's film, the name has been changed from Past Love to Concrete Clouds and will be starring Ananda and Jane, the film will also be produced by iconic filmmaker Sylvia Chang, Thai producer Soros Sukhum and Electric Eel. Lee is P'Joei's frequent editor (also award winning editor having won best editor at the AFA twice) but this will be his directorial debut. I am bit excited (an understatement really, very excited). The movie will be set in 1985 and 1997, the earlier years as flashbacks and the present in 1997, the height of the economic meltdown in Thailand where a tragedy brings back the hero from NYC to deal with "home", and what he left. Lee is particularly poignant when speaking about monuments which are what these characters search for, monuments of their youth which might or might not be there anymore. All the while he searches and goes back to find that the monuments are faded and like the big empty abandonded skeletons of bangkok, they are empty. This echoes the writer/director's own experience as he returned home to these stark lonely buildings resembling concrete clouds. The hero's story is mimicked by his younger brother, 18 years old and discovering things for himself, building his own monuments. I do like the title, it captures the slow heart break as well as the physical and economic reality of that time, these concrete clouds.

P'Joei and Lee with legendarly filmmaker Yonfan

Film festivals, fashion weeks and art fairs have in common many elements, hard work being one but there are also the parties to lok forward to. The Japan party was sweet but my favourite was the Hollywood Reporter dinner at a stall on the street just off Stanley. Street food a la Hollywood. So cute.

Kay, P'Juke, Yuni and friend

It was also fun that Jane decided to join us (she will be co-starring in Concrete Clouds), straight off the plane with her giant silver Rimowa case that the lucky chap she was with wheeled up and down the hill. It was HK after all.

Jane and I
Jane, Lee and I

We went to Lily and Bloom for Penicillen cocktails and corn bread and a surprise meeting with Ivan Pun whom I seem to bump into everywhere. HK works well like that, surprise encounters, all very transient, always fun. My last night was about intoxication vs my first, a catch up with Dee Poon who took me to Kiku where I had a special Kiku roll that knocked the socks off Honmono in Bkk (and tripled my cholesterol leval for sure, it was all uni, toro and egg) and then to get my ears candled. Strange strange way to spend a Sunday night but after all it is HK and for such a straight place, it always has its way of surprising, in a good way.

No comments:

Post a Comment