Govt, private sector hail ‘return to cinema’ with Bangkok World Film Festival
Movie fans will not be disappointed when the “World Film Festival of Bangkok" returns next month after a five-year hiatus, according to six partners of Southeast Asia’s largest celluloid showcase.
They made the vow at a Friday press conference in SF World Cinema on the 9th floor of CentralWorld, venue for the festival's 15th edition from December 2 to 11.
The six partners are the Culture Ministry, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Thai Media Fund, SF Corporation, Thai Airways International (THAI), and long-time festival organiser Nation Group.
The 10-day festival will screen 61 movies from 51 nations and feature special activities to promote the Thai movie industry in line with the Culture Ministry’s soft-power push.
Festival director Donsaron Kovitvanitcha, an internationally acclaimed independent movie producer, unveiled this year's theme as “Return to Cinema”.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, movie theatres were closed for months. Moviegoers had to change their behaviour, prompting the question of whether people would return to theatres,” Donsaron said.
“But people in Thai and international film circles all agree that movies are designed to be enjoyed in theatres because of the quality of image, sound and colour. We miss this optimal quality if we watch movies at home. That’s why we have to return to cinema – the theme of this year’s festival.“
Adisak Limparungpattanakij, Nation Group’s special adviser on festival organisation, recounted the history of the movie showcase across three decades.
“It has been over 20 years since we held the inaugural festival in 1998. The first edition was called Bangkok Film Festival,” Adisak said.
“That year, we felt Thailand should have an international film festival and, as an English-language media organisation, we connected Thailand to the global community. This is one role of Nation Group’s media operations.
“Past editions of the World Film Festival of Bangkok launched new faces in the movie industry, especially the independent sector. They received new opportunities and got a chance to show their movies to international audiences.”
Under the directorship of the late Kriengsak “Victor” Silakong, the festival rose to become part of the international film festival calendar, he added.
Suvannee Chinchiewchan, chief operating officer of SF Corporation, confirmed the “World Film Festival of Bangkok” had contributed to the development of the movie industry in Thailand and abroad.
The “soft power” of movies to showcase countries’ fashion, tourism, culture and foods boosted economies, she added.
Suvanee also hailed cinema’s evolution into a sophisticated art form best appreciated in the cinema.
In the past, we only watched the story and cinematography. But now moviemaking has evolved with better designs and modern sound techniques,” she said.
“As a result, watching movies in theatres is much better than at home because we have technology for isolating sound designs created by producers and directors,” she added, inviting everyone to test her theory by checking out the festival.
The showcase is also part of City Hall’s plans to boost economic recovery in the capital, said Pimuk Simaroj, secretary to Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt.
“We need various activities to revive economic activity,’ Pimuk explained, adding that the private sector had a key role to play.
Pramote Boonnumsuk, of the Culture Ministry’s Thai Media Fund (TMF), said the “World Film Festival of Bangkok” is a major platform for movies made with government support.
Film is among the state’s 5Fs stimulus policy along with food, fighting, fashion and festivals.
“We have granted funds and provided knowledge to lift moviemakers to the international level,” Pramote said.
This festival will see the debut screening of TMF-funded film “A Time to Fly”.
Thai Airways said it was backing the festival as a soft-power showcase of Thailand’s culture. THAI has channels to support new-face movie directors, added the airline’s head of Brand Product and Digital Marketing, Viruj Ruchipongse.
“We believe that THAI can be a starting point for Thai directors launching films on to the international stage,” Viruj said.
The press conference was also joined by Wanasiri Morakul, adviser to the Culture Ministry which oversees film festivals.
The 10-day event will feature 61 films and 20 experimental movies from 51 countries.
Films being screened will showcase a truly global variety of nationalities, languages and cultures, including gender diversity, to reflect people's way of life around the world.
The festival will also connect the international film community, with directors, actors and movie experts from around the world scheduled to make appearances.
Acclaimed films by new directors will vie for the Lotus Award.
The 21 nominated films are:
1. #LookAtMe (Singapore); 2. I Have Electric Dreams (Belgium, France and Costa Rica); 3. A Man (Japan); 4. Rule 34 (Brazil and France); 5. Safe Place (Croatia and Slovenia); 6. Leonor Will Never Die (Philippines); 7. Scala (Thailand); 8. Stonewalling (Japan); 9. The Sales Girl (Mongolia); 10. Tora's Husband (India); 11. Under the Fig Trees (Tunisia); 12. Joyland (Pakistan); 13. Autobiography (Indonesia, France, Singapore, Poland, Philippines, Germany and Qatar); 14. Blue Again (Thailand); 15. Have You Seen This Woman? (Serbia and Croatia); 16. Victim (Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany); 17. Memento Mori: Earth (Vietnam); 18. Riceboy Sleeps (Canada); 19. The Cord of Life (China); 20. A Hundred Flowers (Japan); and 21. Klondike (Ukraine).
The Kriengsak Silakong Award, created in honour of the festival’s long-time director who died suddenly on March 27, will recognise those who have made significant contributions to the film industry both in Thailand and overseas.
The festival will also celebrate director Mom Luang Phanthevanop Devakula (Mom Noi), who died on September 15, by screening three of his works from the Film Archive – “Chan Poo Chai Na Ya”, “Nang Nual” and “Mahasajan Haeng Rak”.
The “15th World Film Festival of Bangkok”, featuring 61 films and 20 experimental movies from 51 countries, as well as special activities, will be held at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld from December 2-11.
Visit www.worldfilmbangkok.com or www.facebook.com/worldfilmbangkok or email [email protected]