By Wise Kwai
The goal is to present the mini-budget US150,000 (Bt6-million) features (debut or second works) at this year’s 70th Venice International Film Festival, which runs August 28 to September 7.Nawapol won last year’s New Currents Award at Busan and is in this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam Tiger Awards with “36”.
“The Year of June” looks to continue his experimental efforts.
According to the Biennale College website, “The Year of June” is a “digital adaptation” of an anonymous schoolgirl’s year-long Twitter stream. “She deconstructs herself into hundreds of fragments and the filmmakers reconstruct them back into an imagined narrative. The result is a fast, funny, and fantastical adventure of a schoolgirl in the city of Bangkok.”
In all, 15 filmmakers took part in the Biennale College. The other two projects selected for production are “Memphis” by Tim Sutton from the US and “Yuri Esposito” by Italy’s Alessio Fava.
The three production teams will take part in a second workshop, each working with a mentor-director and a number of tutors and trainers.
The International Film Festival Rotterdam is now underway, wrapping up on Sunday. As always, it’s an important platform for Thai independent filmmakers.
There are two Thai entries in the main Tiger Awards competition, which spotlights directors making their first or second feature. One is Nawapol’s “36” and the other is the debut feature from Visra Vichit-Vadakan, “Karaoke Girl”, which is a mix of documentary and drama about the life of a karaoke hostess.
Indie veteran Pimpaka Towira is in the Tiger Awards Competition for Short Films with “The Mother”, a jaw-dropping single shot of a mother’s funeral.
Another highlight is a special one-minute leader that precedes each HBF Harvest film at the festival, “Lublae”, a weird sci-fi short directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong, who won the Tiger Award in 2009 for “Mundane History”. It has women in white hooded outfits searching for something in the forest.
Here’s more about it from the festival website:
“Lublae is a district in northern Thailand that used to be known as the ‘hidden’ land, due to its remote location; ‘lub’ means ‘hidden’ in Thai. Others say that Lublae is a derivative of Lublang, the name of the forest in the area. ‘Lang’ means ‘evening’ in the language of Lanna (an old kingdom in present-day northern Thailand) as the forest was so dense, it often got dark before sunset. Legend has it that the residents of Lublae were all women and that they tolerated no lies, no matter how small.
“The 10 women who appear in Lublae are friends of the director, all of whom work in the arts: among them are a film director, an architect, an actress. They walk through a field, torches in hand, searching for something. The beams of light from their torches briefly illuminate the soon-to-be dark landscape. The director likes to think of them as modern-day usherettes – while these 10 women may be searchers, they also show us the way.”
Anocha is also taking part in the Spectrum Shorts with Wichanon Sumumjarn, whose debut feature “In April the Following Year, There was a Fire” debuted at Rotterdam a year ago. Together they present “Overseas”, about a young Myanmar woman working in a Mahachai seafood-packing plant who is faced with a pretty serious dilemma.
Another Rotterdam old hand, Jakwaral Nilthamrong, is back with “Zero Gravity”, a “visually and dramatically complex story set simultaneously in the present and the past ... where a bizarre hostage situation ended in blood over 10 years ago”. It refers to the 1999 Ratchaburi hospital siege by the God’s Army, led by the twin Karen boys and Johnny and Luther Htoo. “Almost every conflict in or on the border of Thailand seems to be dealt with,” says the film synopsis.