Thursday, November 4, 2010

Doi Saket Film Festival 2010 - Update 5

Update 5 Closing Ceremony and Festival Winners

Chiang Mai movies: 1st Doi Saket International Film Festival 2010!  

by Thomas Ohlson

As with all film festivals, there were awards. At the closing ceremony this last Saturday night, October 30, on the grounds of Wat Suan Dok, the award for best picture was given to an entry from Poland, House of Roses / Dom w różach, directed by Kuba Czekay [see picture right]. In line with the Festival’s approach that the length of a film is irrelevant, this picture happened to be only 16 minutes long. The film also won an award for best production design.

The award for best Thai picture went to a 13-minute effort, Whispering Ghosts / ถ้อยคำที่ถูกสาป, directed by Taiki Sakpisit, and based on excerpts from Arthur Rimbaud’s poem, A Season in Hell. The best director award went to Edmund Yeo of Malaysia for his film Love Suicides, a study of the deteriorating relationship of a woman and her daughter in an isolated Malaysian fishing village. Best cinematography was awarded to Dustin Feneley for an Australian entry examining an alienated traveling salesman, Hawker.

The most significant award in my view was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to the recently deceased photographer and filmmaker Sitthipong “Sam” Kalayanee. It was a particularly relevant and beautiful gesture. His films were given extensive emphasis during the festival, with a selection of his films over 20 years showing most every day for seven hours from 2 pm to 9 at the Media Arts & Design building.

He was a film director, activist, and a co-founder and director of Images Asia Inc. Through his films he conducted a life-long battle for human rights; he was an associate producer of the well-known documentary Burma VJ detailing the September 2007 crackdown of the Burmese government on the uprising of citizens and monks. Much of the video tape was clandestinely shot by participants in the struggle and then smuggled out of the country. Sam was responsible for helping to bring to the world’s attention the horrors and inhumanities of the current Burmese government, and the daily tragedies inflicted on the inhabitants of that sad country. Mostly unpleasant subjects, but necessary, on subjects like the demonic effect of landmines on the lives of individuals and families and entire villages, and on the horrendous use of child soldiers by both the regular Burmese army and the armies of the various rebel groups. And yet the tragedy of Burma continues.

Sam died suddenly in September. This award for a life-time of thankless battle for human rights was presented by Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul and given to the filmmaker’s young daughter, Fah. [See picture, courtesy of Liam Morgan.]

Here is the list of awards given:

  • Best Film – House of Roses, directed by Kuba Czekay (Poland)
  • Best Thai Film – Four Seasons, directed by Chaisiri Jiwaragsan, and Whispering Ghost, directed by Taiki Sakpisit (Thailand)
  • Best Director – Love Suicides, directed by Edmund Yeo (Malaysia)
  • Best Cinematography – Hawker, directed by Dustin Feneley (Australia)
  • Best Production Design – House of Roses, directed by Kuba Czekay (Poland)
  • Best Editing – Kingyo, directed (and edited) by Edmund Yeo (Malaysia-Japan)
  • Best Actor – Main actor from Tailang (Thailand)
  • Best Actress – Main actress in Hand Painted Feathers (Philippines)
  • Jury Prize – This Prison Where I Live, directed by Rex Bloomstein (UK), about Burmese comedian Zarganar
  • Best Youth Film – No (Thailand)
  • Special Mention – To be announced
  • Lifetime Achievement – Dome Sukwong, Thai Film Archive
  • Lifetime Achievement – Sam Kalayanee (Thailand)

The jury members were Santiphap Inkong-ngam, Pierre Laburthe and Soraya Nakasuwan.

Further details on the awards are on the festival website at

There were also speeches of congratulations to the festival and its crew by community leaders, and by Thomas Baude of the Alliance Française, one of the festival’s many sponsors.

Picture to right shows a small part of the large number of volunteers who worked on the festival. At far left in the picture is the festival’s director, Patavee “Art” Viranuvat.

In a special surprise, the evening ended with the complete showing of a classic of Thai cinema, Tears of the Black Tiger / Fah Talai Jon, by Wisit Sasanatieng. The film was shown outside on a screen set up for the purpose on the grounds of the Wat, like the other outdoor showings during the festival. [See picture below.] People mostly sat on the grass on mats, or on chairs.

Tears of the Black Tiger is a really fun and entertaining 2001 Thai movie that I enjoyed very much. About two hours long, it has turned into a cult film in Thailand. It’s a parody really of a combination of two genres: the Western, and the romantic tearjerker, garnished with a loud acting style, wild and outrageous sets, and stunning photography using intense saturated colors.

All in all an excellent first festival, and with high hopes and anticipation for the second.


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