Two film festivals start in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, February 3, 2011
… through Wednesday, February 9
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: Fair Game. Monsters. And the films at the two festivals.
A creature comes calling in “Uncle
This is Issue Number 14 of Volume 6 of these listings, in our sixth year!
The current festivals are:
South East Asian Film Festival, Payap University: Feb 3 to 6 (starts today!) Info at http://filmfestival.payap.ac.th/?page_id=56.
French Cinema Week, Alliance Française: Feb 7 to 11.
(Use slider on the right of the site to view film information.)
Here is a list of the ten films nominated for best picture of the year for the Academy Award ceremony coming up on February 27, with notes as to whether we might see each here in Chiang Mai. We’ve already seen three. [The Oscar show is Feb 27 in the US, but Feb 28 early morning here in Thailand.]
“Black Swan” – now scheduled for Thailand on 24 Feb at Major Cineplex.
“The Fighter” – opened 27 Jan at some Major Cineplex theaters, but not here. May pop up any time.
“Inception” – already played here.
“The Kids Are All Right” – not scheduled for Thailand yet.
“The King’s Speech” – Feb 3 only at APEX, Siam Square. (Limited - APEX Siam-Square / SF World Cinema)
“127 Hours” – Mar 31 for Thailand., now Mar 10
“The Social Network” – already played here.
“Toy Story” – already played here.
“True Grit” – Feb 24 for Thailand.
“Winter’s Bone” – not scheduled for Thailand yet.
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* The Green Hornet 3D: US, Action/ Comedy/ Crime – 1 hr 59 mins – Christof Waitz, Cameron Diaz, and Seth Rogen as the Hornet. Apparently only sporadically entertaining, but of special interest to Asians because the role of Cato is played by superstar Jay Chou. Generally unfavorable reviews: 39/45 out of 100. (The scores, on a basis of 100, are from two web sources. The first, in bold, is from Metacritic.com, and the other is from RottenTomatoes.com. Movies released in the US only.)
Shown in 3D and in 2D at Major Cineplex, Airport Plaza; 2D only at Vista.
Miami Herald, Rene Rodriguez: A big, boisterous action-comedy - a funny, exciting, and intentionally goofy summer movie that just happens to arrive in the middle of January.
The Times-Picayune, Mike Scott: We've got our first unapologetic crowd-pleasing, fist-pumping, just-for-fun popcorn flick of 2011.
The Green Hornet, stars Seth Rogen and is based on the old radio serial that became a comic book and, later, a television series.
"The Green Hornet" is built in the mold of "Batman": a masked vigilante and his sidekick use their tricked-out car and bottomless bank account to attack the criminal underworld. It also feels a lot like 2008's Iron Man in that it is funny, its main character oozes charm, and it's destined to spawn sequels.
Rogen plays Britt Reid, the playboy son of a disapproving newspaper magnate (Tom Wilkinson). The old man isn't the cuddliest of fathers, but he knows newspapering. He's principled, he's idealistic and he's uncompromising when it comes to reporting the news. He also finds himself in an early grave.
That leaves a grieving Britt to reconsider his hard-partying lifestyle. After a night of drunken bonding with Kato, his father's "human Swiss Army knife" of a motorpool worker -- he's a martial arts expert, a mechanical genius and one heck of a barista -- Britt proposes that the two team up to continue the old man's crusade against crime. Only, they'll take their fight directly to the street, as costumed heroes.
Jay Chou, left, and Seth Rogen star in the big-screen
version of 'The Green Hornet,' based on the
They have a twist, too: They'll pose as criminals, to keep the real bad guys off-balance -- exactly the sort of idea that might occur to an eternal teenager such as Rogen's Britt. It might actually work, if not for the power-hungry, turf-protecting kingpin played by Christoph Waltz.
Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) is a scenery-chewing delight, but the plum role is that of Kato, the character that helped make Bruce Lee a household name in the 1960s TV series. He's played this time by the dashing Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou. You probably haven't heard of him, but that's about to change. This feels a lot like a breakout performance.
The film is based on a script by Rogen and longtime writing partner Evan Goldberg, and it's got the same sensibilities as their previous films (Pineapple Express, Superbad). That is, beneath it all, it's an enjoyable bromance -- as much about Britt and Kato's relationship as it is about slugging bad guys -- featuring effortless banter and maximum chuckles.
Throw in Michel Gondry's whiz-bang direction -- which, though less elegant than his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, includes some stunning slow-motion fight scenes -- and a kicking soundtrack, and you've got something. (Less important to the success of the film: the flaccid use of 3-D, which -- as usual -- only achieves its maximum impact during the closing credits, and the snatches of eye-popping third-act violence.)
* Teng Nong Jiwon Bin / เท่งโหน่งจีวรบิน: Thai, Action/ Comedy – 1 hr 45 mins – A comedy about a pilgrim and a wealthy jeweller whose destiny has brought them to meet on a plane and then encounter unexpected events. The formula for Phranakorn Film comedies – of which this seems to be a prime example – seems to be: Assemble a cast of popular TV and cafe comics, have a grain of an idea for a plot or a genre (horror, romance, or farcical action, or all three), and then say "action!" The company is now quite prolific, seemingly rolling out a comedy about every other month.
* The Next Three Days: US/ France, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 2 hrs 2 mins – Lara Brennan is arrested for murdering her boss whom she had an argument with. It seems she was seen leaving the scene of the crime and her fingerprints were on the murder weapon. Her husband, John would spend the next few years trying to get her released but there's no evidence that negates the evidence against her. And when the strain of being separated from her family – especially her son – gets to her, John decides to break her out. He needs to do a good deal of research to find a way. Directed by Paul Haggis (Crash), and starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, and Liam Neeson. Mixed or average reviews: 52/58 out of 100.
Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwarzbaum: The Next Three Days follows an ordinary guy named John (Russell Crowe) as he executes a wildly complicated plan to spring his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), from prison, where she has been locked up for a murder she says she didn't commit. Jailbreaking is not John's forte — he's a community-college professor in Pittsburgh and he drives a Prius. But all judicial appeals have failed, and the couple's young son is so very sad. So, spurred by love, despair, and belief in his wife's innocence, John turns to desperate measures. First, however, he does some Internet homework that leads him to Damon (Liam Neeson), an ex-con-turned-author who provides expert advice on the art of escape.
Damon's how-to-break-the-law lesson — as ludicrous as anything else in this enjoyably zigzaggy exercise in accumulating peril — grants Neeson the fun of experimenting with an American ex-con accent for his one scene. It also sets up the movie's real strength, which is generating escalating waves of plot tension and misdirection as John, heeding advice, makes his jail-busting moves. Writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash), who adapted The Next Three Days from a 2008 French thriller, Pour Elle, clearly has Alfred Hitchcock's wrong-man-in-wrong-place psychological archetype in mind as John weaves all over Pittsburgh. Lara, for her part, has no idea of her husband's plan — the usually sunnier Banks is an interesting, counterintuitive casting choice — and when she finds out, she adds her own complications. Soon the chase becomes its own perpetual-motion machine, one that ticks down to the last second.
* Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie: A wakening of the Trailblazer / Gekijouban Kidou senshi Gandamu 00: A wakening of the trailblazer / 劇場版 機動戦士ガンダム00: Japan, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi – 2 hrs 1 min – An animated movie continuing events chronicled in a two-year TV series, 50 episodes, shown on Japanese television 2007-2009. But the amazingly complicated and detailed Gundam world goes back to an original 1979 series, and the overarching story has been told in TV, movies, music, manga, novels, and video games, and products that can be purchased related to the franchise are seemingly endless, including immensely popular plastic figurines of the characters. It is a more than 50 billion yen a year franchise. “Gundam” refers to a sort of mechanised, heavily armed robot called a “Mobile Suit.” Only at Vista, in Japanese, and with Thai (not English) subtitles.
Meet the Parents: Little Fockers: US, Comedy – 1 hr 38 mins – Must we really meet them? In this third installment of the series, the test of wills between Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller escalates to new heights – or would that be depths? At Airport Plaza only. Generally unfavorable reviews: 27/34 out of 100. To be fair, the cinemas here have to serve a wide constituency, and they have to have a certain number of actioners, rom-coms, Thai patriotic films, films for kids, and films for people who like this kind of film. Let’s just hope this fulfills their quota for a while now.
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Watching Little Fockers is a depressing experience. Rarely does a comedy bring such an overpowering sense of sadness.
St. Petersburg Times, Steve Persall: A comedy abomination, tasteless and useless to a stunning degree, with storied actors smugly collecting paychecks for sullying their careers.
Shaolin / New Shaolin Temple / เส้าหลิน 2 ใหญ่ / 新少林寺: Hong Kong/ China, Action/ Drama/ Comedy – 2 hrs 11 mins – Starring Jackie Chan and Andy Lau. This is an updated version of Jet Li's 1982 movie debut, The Shaolin Temple. Distinguishing his film from the previous version, producer/director Benny Chan sets the new "Shaolin" in the early 20th century, and tells a story of Shaolin monks who protect and shelter civilians during war. Unfortunately it’s shown here only in a Thai-dubbed version.
A Nutshell Review, Stefan S: Superstars aren't lacking in this update of Shaolin Temple which promises spectacular action sequences, but what's surprisingly excellent here isn't the action, but the spirit of Buddhism and themes that come along with it. ... actually is a thinking man's film on the philosophical aspects of Buddhism, and the balance of Martial Zen. Recommended!
Bangkon Care / บางคนแคร์ แคร์บางคน: Thai, Drama/ Romance – 1 hr 55 mins – A girl is separated from her first true love, and then desperately tries to find him again using today’s modern tools: Facebook and Twitter. In Thai only.
Monsters: UK, Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 1 hr 34 mins – Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures." Our story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border. Rated R in the US for language. Generally favorable reviews: 63/66 out of 100. At Vista only.
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: It doesn't quite live up to its intriguing premise, but Monsters is a surprising blend of alien-invasion tropes, political themes, and relationship drama.
Salon.com, Andrew O'Hehir: However you slice it, Monsters is a dynamite little film, loaded with atmosphere, intelligence, beauty, and courage.
Fair Game: US, Action/ Biography/ Drama/ Thriller – 1 hr 44 mins – Director Doug Liman’s exciting fact-based drama of former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson; his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson; and the events of 2003, when her identity as a CIA operative was leaked by the White House after her husband wrote an op-ed piece criticizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Generally favorable reviews: 69/71 out of 100. At Vista only, with thanks for bringing this important and rousing film to Chiang Mai.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joe Williams: For a nation at war with its own values, Fair Game is a compelling, pertinent, and scrupulously true political thriller in the honorable tradition of All the President's Men.
Roger Ebert (November 3, 2010): It seems to come down to this: The Bush administration had decided to go to war in Iraq. Scrambling to find reasons to justify the war, it seized on reports that the African nation of Niger had sold uranium to Iraq. Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador to Niger, was sent to seek evidence. He found none. In fact, he found such sales would have been physically impossible.
His report was ignored. We went to war. The non-existent uranium sales were cited. He wrote an article in the New York Times reporting on what he found, or didn't find, in Niger. In an attempt to discredit him, someone in the administration leaked the information to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent.
Cheney's aide, Scooter Libby, was tried and convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury, sentenced to prison, and his sentence quickly commuted by Bush. Cheney was angry he wasn't pardoned outright. In the film, we see that Plame, under a variety of aliases, ran secret networks of informants in Bagdad and other Middle Eastern cities. When the administration blew her cover, several of her informants were killed; some reports say 70. Then the Bush spin doctors leaked the story that she was only a CIA "secretary."
The spinning is still going on. Doug Liman's Fair Game, based on books by Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson and starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, is unusually bold for a fictionalization based on real events. Using real names and a good many facts, it argues: (1) Saddam Hussein had no WMD; (2) the CIA knew it; (3) the White House knew it; (4) the agenda of Cheney and his White House neocons required an invasion of Iraq no matter what, and (5) therefore, the evidence was ignored and we went to war because of phony claims.
One interesting element in the movie's version is the cluelessness of George W. Bush. In this version, it's possible he didn't fully realize how flawed his information on Niger was. The svengali is Cheney. That's the collective narrative that emerges from a group of similar films, like Rod Lurie's Nothing But the Truth and Oliver Stone's W. The implication was that he wanted Scooter pardoned because Scooter was acting on his orders. It's unlikely Scooter would have been acting on his own.
Scheduled for February 10
The Rite: US, Drama/ Horror/ Thriller – 1 hr 52 mins – An American priest travels to Italy to study at an exorcism school. Directed by Mikael Håfström, with Anthony Hopkins. The studio says: “A supernatural thriller that uncovers the Devil's reach to even one of the holiest places on Earth. Inspired by true events, the film follows seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Wearing his deep skepticism like armor, Michael challenges his superiors to look to psychiatry, rather than demons, in treating the possessed. Only when he's sent to apprentice with the unorthodox Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins)--a legendary priest who has performed thousands of exorcisms--does Michael's armor begin to fall. As he is drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas's skill, he begins to glimpse a phenomenon science can't explain or control...and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.��� Directed by Mikael Håfström (1408),Generally unfavorable reviews: 38/41 out of 100.
No Strings Attached: US, Comedy/ Romance – 1 hr 48 mins – A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more.The studio puts it this way: “In this comedy, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. In order... In this comedy, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. In order to protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly "no strings attached." "No strings" means no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, no baby voices. It means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever public place they want, as long as they don't fall in love. The questions become - Can you have sex without love getting in the way? And can their friendship survive?” Mixed or average reviews: 51/53 out of 100.
This film, The Fighter, is a Major Cinema exclusive in Thailand, now playing but not here, but may pop up at any moment in Chiang Mai. Keep an eye out for it, it’s one of the year’s best.
The Fighter: US, Biography/ Drama/ Sport – 1 hr 55 mins – Highly praised film nominated for a best-picture Oscar, best director, best supporting actor (Christian Bale), 2 best supporting actresses (Amy Adams and Melissa Leo), best original screenplay, best editing. The Fighter is a drama about boxer "Irish" Micky Ward's unlikely road to the world light welterweight title. His Rocky-like rise was shepherded by half-brother Dicky, a boxer-turned-trainer who rebounded in life after nearly being KO'd by drugs and crime. With Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, giving two outstanding performances. Rated R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality. Generally favorable reviews: 79/79 out of 100.
... and looking forward
Feb 24: Black Swan: (Now advertised as the release date for Thailand, but for Chiang Mai? Very uncertain) US, Drama/ Romance/ Thriller – 1 hr 48 mins – Follows the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Nominated for best picture of the year, best direction, best actress (Natalie Portman), best cinematography (Matthew Libatique), and editing. Rated R in the US for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language, and some drug use. Generally favorable reviews: 79/82 out of 100.
* = Coming soon (hopefully)
AF = Alliance Française FS = Film Space
South East Asian Film Festival
The South East Asian Institute of Global Studies at Payap University presents “Lifescapes” – a festival running from February 3 to 6 at Payap University.
Opening and closing receptions, film screenings, discussion panels, and presentations will take place on the Payap University main campus. All films will be subtitled in English and Thai. All activities are free and open to the public.
The organizers write that Lifescapes will screen contemporary films – documentary, docu-drama, dramatic – to showcase thoughtful work with a social conscience. They hopes to raise awareness while celebrating the film culture and filmmakers of Southeast Asia who make meaningful social commentary with their work – showing the “beautiful” without flinching from “grim reality.”
They go on to say they hope to show films that explore regional issues and human rights struggles within mainland Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The festival will screen films and give audiences and directors the opportunity for discussion. Directors and film-makers are invited to speak, and representatives from NGO’s will host a cross-country forum.
Website for the festival: http://filmfestival.payap.ac.th/?page_id=56
Wise Kwai: Uruphong Raksasad's Agrarian Utopia and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives are the opening and closing films of the Lifescapes South East Asian Film Festival at Payap University in Chiang Mai from February 3 to 6.
The fest focuses on regional issues and human-rights struggles with films from Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Other Thai films include Kon Jon Poo Ying Yai (คนจนผู้ยิ่งใหญ่), an unreleased work by Sueb Boonsong Nakphoo that "explores the people in rural Thailand, living in the hardest place at the hardest time", and shorts from Rung Uan, a Chiang Rai NGO that trains young filmmakers.
Other highlights include Bradley Cox's documentary Who Killed Chea Vichea?, about the death of the Cambodian labor leader; Only Love, the latest feature by Laotian director Anousone Sirsackda; The Prison Where I Live, on the jailed Burmese comedian Zarganar; and The Most Secret Place on Earth, a documentary looking at the lingering aftermath of the CIA's "secret war" in Laos.
Aside from film screenings, there's talks, among them a panel discussion on censorship featuring Tanwarin Sukhaphisit, director of the banned Insects in the Backyard.
The closing film, which will take place at the Major Cineplex Airport Plaza, will be the Chiang Mai premiere of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which despite having been shown around Thailand in limited theatrical engagements last year, missed Apichatpong's adopted hometown.
The not-to-be-missed event in my opinion is the showing of this film:
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Sun. 6 February, 7:00 pm
At Major Cineplex Airport Plaza, Cinema 7
By Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thai, Comedy/ Fantasy – 1 hr 54 mins – Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave – the birthplace of his first life… For what it’s worth, it’s gotten what Rotten Tomatoes calculates is generally favorable reviews: 74 out of 100.
This may be your only chance in Chiang Mai to see this mysterious film which won the Palme d'Or at the last Cannes Festival.
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Languorous and deeply enigmatic, Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee represents an original take on the ghosts that haunt us.
Telegraph, Sukhdev Sandhu [21 May 2010]: It’s barely a film; more a floating world. To watch it is to feel many things – balmed, seduced, amused, mystified. It’s to feel that one is encountering a distinctive metaphysics far removed from that on display in most contemporary cinema. Weerasethakul has not only drawn on the themes, landscapes, and mood-states he tapped in Blissfully Yours, Tropical Malady, and Syndromes And A Century, films that extended the imaginative and emotional grammar of arthouse cinema over the last decade; he has refined them to create his most accessible and most enchanted film to date.
Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar) is dying of kidney failure and has retired to the countryside in North-East Thailand to see out his days in the company of his loved ones. When he’s not receiving medical attention, he tends to his bees and gazes out at the lush nature that surrounds him.
One evening, as he’s dining with his family, his wife Huay (Natthakarn Aphaiwonk), who died fourteen years before, appears at the table. So does, a strange-looking simian whose eyes resemble red lasers: he is, albeit in the form of a Monkey Ghost, Boonmee’s long-lost son. And so begins a conversation, laden with joy and sadness, drifting into the night, in which a man on the verge of dying questions his wife on what he might find in the afterworld – and, if he will find her there too.
Later, he will travel with his family through jungles and deep into a hilltop cave that he likens to a womb, and whose darkness is suddenly and spectacularly interrupted by walls that effulge...
But this is a film that is only partly about journeys. The story that it tells isn’t dramatic, just as the world it evokes isn’t new; here, reincarnation, to say nothing of the division between humans and animals, is widely accepted. At points, it’s implied – an important word, for Weerasethakul is too sensitive and generous an artist to insist on single interpretations – that Boonmee may, in a previous life, have been a buffalo, or perhaps a catfish that in one of the film’s most bizarre and delicately handled scenes has sex with a disfigured princess by a sylvan waterfall.
There are many elements of this film that remain elusive and secretive. But that’s a large part of its appeal: Weerasethakul, without ever trading in stock images of Oriental inscrutability, successfully conveys the subtle but important other-worldliness of this part of Thailand. He doesn’t have to take recourse in fantasy; there are frequent allusions to battles fought against Communism in the region, as well as the arrival there of many migrants from Laos and Cambodia.
In this respect, given the bloody battles in Bangkok over the last few weeks, it’s tempting to see the red-eyed Monkey Ghost as a distant antecedent of the (class- rather than rural-conscious) Red Shirt protestors (many of whom come from the North East of the country).
Those Monkey Ghosts are described as “past people”, but they’re past people in the same way as ghosts: they still have the power to attach themselves to the present, to make an impact. In spite of constantly being tracked and chased by hunters, they grow in number towards the end of the film: they are part rumour, part multitude, utopian possibility. They symbolize – just as the Red Shirt protestors fight to keep aflame - an alternative vision of the present and of the future in that anxious nation.
Mostly though, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a film about what it means to take care of others, and of the importance of caring and of being cared for. And it’s a film, in its meticulous attention to sound design, its exquisite cinematography, and the patience with which it unfolds, morphs and insinuates itself in our imaginations, that, I hope upon hope, the selection committee of the Palme d’Or will care for as much as I do.
View London, Matthew Turner: Fascinating, hypnotic and deeply, deeply weird, Apichatpong's Palm d'Or winner is a beautifully shot Thai drama that will baffle and amaze in equal measure.
...The imagery and camerawork are extraordinary throughout, while the minimal dialogue and atmospheric soundtrack lend the film a hypnotic, contemplative feel. It's also surprisingly funny in places, particularly in everyone's reactions to the appearance of Boonsong.
It is fair to say that Uncle Boonmee will be baffling to most Western audiences (and possibly to Eastern audiences too) and the painfully slow pacing has an undeniably soporific effect, but this is a rare example of a film where falling asleep almost seems like it's encouraged, as your own half-dreams mingle with the strange images and events on screen.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a deeply weird, strangely beautiful film that needs to be seen to be believed. Recommended.
Tickets for the showing are priced at 100 baht (normal seat); 120 baht (honeymoon seat); and 300 baht (Opera Chair – 2 persons). Tickets are available for purchase now at the following places:
Payap University, Mae Khao Campus
Pentecost Building, Room 115
Raan Lao Bookshop
Nimanhaemin Rd, near Soi 2
Cup A Book Cafe
Nimanhaemin Rd, opposite Soi 13
DVD Film & Music
Wing 41 T-junction (off Suthep Rd.)
South East Asian Film Festival Program
At Payap University, Chiang Mai
Day 1 Thurs 3 February (Opening Day)
1700-1800 Opening Ceremony
1800-2100 Agrarian Utopia (สวรรค์บ้านนา) by Uruphong Raksasad [Thailand, 120 min, Thai, English subtitles] In Dr. Boontong Auditorium
Followed by Q&A with director, Uruphong Raksasad
Facing seizure of their own lands, two families found themselves farming together on the same field, hoping to get through just another rice-farming season like every year. But no matter how much the world is evolving, how much the country is going through economic, political and social changes, they still cannot grasp that ideology of happiness.
How can we dream of utopia while our stomach is still grumbling?
2100 ~ Opening Night After Party @ MUMU Arthouse, Nimanhaemin Rd, Soi 7
Day 2 Fri 4 February
1000-1100 Music and Film with Thorsten Wollmann
Presentation, In the Singtoh Changtrakul Room
This presentation will describe the importance of music in film, its function and role, as well as filmmaker expectations regarding the work of their film score composers. What music can do, cannot do, should do, and should not do in a movie, will be explored.
1100-1145 Burma In Pieces written and directed by Arun Sharma [Burma/ Myanmar, 45 min, Burmese, English subtitles] In the Weera Kitjathorn Room
Shot illegally and often covertly in Burma and Thailand over 2 years, Burma In Pieces is a poetic sound and visual metaphor of life under a military dictatorship, pieced together from 150 hours of original material, interviews and archive footage. Filmed on bustling city streets and in remote mountain villages, in trains and markets, guerrilla resistance compounds in the landmine infested Burmese jungle, refugee camps on the Thai border, Buddhist temples, schools and kick boxing tournaments, the film offers intimate and unique observations of life in Burma under the shadow of the military dictatorship that controls it. For decades, the horrific human rights violations and political oppression in Burma has gone untold and unnoticed by the world, and while this situation has changed in recent years, Burma is still a closed society and its people remain distant statistics in a world desensitized by the horrors of conflict. Burma In Pieces therefore attempts to offer a detailed, nuanced human perspective of the nature of fear and oppression by bringing the audience into the lives, homes and environments of the Burmese people, thus experiencing their warmth, struggle and sacrifice.
1145-1230 Love Man Love Woman by Trinh Thi Nguyen
[Vietnam, 50 min, Vietnamese, English subtitles] In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
For centuries, Vietnam’s Dao Mau (Mother Goddess Religion) temples have been the one place where homosexuals are able to flourish in the predominantly homophobic country. In these traditional temples, where attendance is surprisingly mixed, they’re able to express their sexuality and femininity, blurring the distinctions between genders.
This documentary takes a heartening look at this group of ’dong co’ – meaning ‘princess spirit’s mediums’, a term originated from the indigenous religion that has come to be used generally in Vietnam to refer to effeminate and gay men – forging their own community, culture and rituals together. The filmmaker follows Master Luu Ngoc Duc, one of the most prominent spirit mediums in Hanoi, and his vibrant community through their rituals and everyday life.
The film also examines the impacts of globalization on the lifestyle and identities of homosexuals in Vietnam’s urban areas.
1200-1300 lunch break
1300-1415 Purpose of Film: Beauty, Entertainment, and a Social Conscience?
Panel Discussion, In the Singtoh Changtrakul Room
Gridthiya Gaweewong, Artistic Director, Jim Thompson Art Center
Uruphong Raksasad, Director, Agrarian Utopia
Detlev F. Neufert, Filmmaker, Author, President of German Thai Media Association
Moderator: Sutthirat Suppaparinya
1430-1615 In the Middle of the Bridge by Karin Dürr and Carolin Röckelein [Burma/Myanmar, 60 min,
Burmese, English] In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
Followed by discussion with Ashin Sophaka
Shortly after the defeat of the September Revolution in 2007, hundreds of monks tried to flee to foreign countries. Some of the leaders landed in Mae Sot in Thailand, a trading center on the border of Burma, where they remained hidden underground.
The starting point for our film is based on the consequences of the Safron Revolution that each of our protagonists has experienced in a different way. We focus on the one hand on the personalities and motivation of these men, who take responsibility for one of the biggest democratic movements of our times. On the other hand we try to find out more about the situation and life in Burma, a country that because of its closed border policy does not allow any access to show the reality.
One year later: We meet the monks at JFK airport in New York. A further getaway into a world that couldn’t be stranger, torn out of context.
1630-1730 The Wanderers by Christine Bouteiller [Cambodia, 58 min, Khmer, English subtitles] In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
“Our children don’t believe us. They’re too young to know. In 1975, many of us were too young to understand when the Khmer Rouges revolutionaries, managed by Pol Pot, took over our country. War, Khmer rouges, landmines: we should have died. But instead we went astray.
We’re not dead. Today, we live in Cambodia. We’ve lived in the village of Chamkar Samrong for the last 15 years, or rather in a couple of rows of houses away from the village, a place better known as ” the camp.”
We are Cambodian. We always have been. And yet, it was slightly accidental that we ended up here.”
After surviving 30 years of war and being refugees for 15 years, 380 000 Cambodians were repatriated in 1992 to their homeland from the Thai borders refugee camps. Some of them were resettled in villages built for them by the United Nations.
How can a society rebuild itself after such a traumatic scattering ? Those who never left were suspicious and saw the massive arrival of these exiled families as a threat to their land and equilibrium. The villagers gave to these former refugees a nickname still used today: the wanderers.
In a world of 26 millions of displaced people, the Wanderers try in their own way – slowly but surely – to survive and to reintegrate while fighting for their children’s future. This film is a tribute to their resiliency. “ We didn’t die, we live in a few rows of houses at the outskirt of the village, a place known as “the camp”. We are the Wanderers, those who have lost their path.”
1730-1830 dinner break
1830-1900 4 Shorts From the Factories [Cambodia, 4 x 8 min, Khmer, English subtitles] In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
Cambodia’s garment industry a major pillar of the country’s post-war economy. In 2007, garment factories employed more than 350,000 workers and generated exports worth around US$3.7 billion. Most factories produce for well known US and European brands including Gap, Adidas, Levis and H&M. In 2009 the global economic crisis has led to to more than 70.000 workers being laid off. Most of them are young women from rural areas with limited education, who support an average of three to five family members. Through their remittances these women often crucially contribute to their family’s survival and to the education of their siblings. Migrating from rural areas to big cities they find themselves displaced from their origins.
Four Shorts From the Factories look at the economic downturn viewed through the prism of workers, a female Cambodian manager, union representatives, entrepreneurs and small businesses surrounding the factories.
The films A Day at the Factory, A Day Around the Factories, A Day Off From the Factory and A Weekend With the Manager have been produced by international filmmakers and Cambodian media students under the roof of the “Media Education and Training Academy” (M.E.T.A.), supported by Better Factories Cambodia/ILO and Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES) Singapore.
Students participating in the research and production of Four Shorts From the Factories were Sao Sopheak (28), Borei Sylyvann (25), Lim Seang Heng (21) and Ream Chamrouen (18). The films were directed by US filmmaker Mark Hammond (“L’Amour Cache”) and “Meta House”-founder Nico Mesterharm from Germany.
1900-2115 Kon Jon Poo Ying Yai (คนจนผู้ยิ งใหญ่) by Boonsong Nakphoo [Thailand, 90 min, Thai, English subtitles] In the Kaew Nettayotin Room
Followed by Q&A with director, Sueb Boonsong Nakphoo
The film explores the people in rural Thailand, living in the hardest place at the hardest time. For the main character, he has no job, no money and no hope. Everything in his life seems worse than ever: his son was captured by the police, his land vested in debt, and his ex-wife has gone away to Bangkok – the land he swears to himself that he would never go back to again. Without help from the government or anyone, he tries to survive through his life struggles.
This film has not yet been released and the director, Sueb Boonsong Nakphoo, will join us for the screening and post-discussion (offered in Thai & English).
Day 3 Sat 5 February
In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
1000-1200 Looking For Reconciliation [Burma/Myanmar, 83 min] English,
Followed by discussion with the Democratic Voice of Burma
The military leaders of Myanmar (Burma) have promised general elections late 2010 and the start of a reconciliation process. Although one can have serious doubts about the intentions of the junta, reconciliation is endorsed by most people in Burma and the international community. It will be crucial to change Burma into a democracy. But what kind of reconciliation is possible in Burma, and can we learn from similar processes of unification in other countries?
These are the questions that drive the young Burmese camporter ‘Z’ to fly around the world and visit five former dictatorships. This documentary follows him on his journey. Armed with a small DV camera he visits five countries that experienced regime change after a dictatorship: Indonesia, South-Africa, Iraq, the Czech Republic, and Cambodia. He interviews prominent human rights activists, like Desmond Tutu, visits places where history was made and tries to understand why the generals in Indonesia still rule the country, why the Kurds in Iraq don’t care about reconciliation and why the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia still deny their genocide.
The story of Z’s journey is intertwined with his personal story. We learn about his past, his struggle, his present situation, and his plans for the future. All these ingredients lead to an exciting journey through the recent history of regime change and reconciliation, through the mind of a young exile camporter and through the process of making documentaries on a shoe string.
Kay Lie is the alias of a European director who’s recently specialized in documentaries about South East Asia and specifically about Burma. The European director in question made over a hundred documentaries and short features and won ten international festival prizes.
1200-1230 Across the Sea of Dust by Tiffany Chung [Vietnam, 23 min, Vietnamese, English subtitles]
Across the Sea of Dust tranquilly reflects the complex emotion and experience of a new generation of young ‘global citizens’ who no longer feel at home anywhere. As globalization and migration have increasingly prevailed, these modern-day nomads live in and between cultures, places, and times. The psychosis of contemporary culture is melancholically provoked as the male protagonist, who suffers severe mental disorders and is nearly amnesiac, sleep-walking us through the recovering of his childhood memory; as the narrator taking a train ride across the visual and mental landscape of her time and generation, which serves as the backdrop for stories of other characters. Featuring young Asian actors who hail from Norway, Japan and Vietnam, Across the Sea of Dust presents our ever-changing world full of beauty, loss, and loneliness.
“Across the Sea of Dust is scripted based on interviews conducted on a number of young people who identify with the overall theme of the film, in which some of them ended up playing their own roles. The narrator’s story is from my interviews with several Japanese women who keep moving from one place to another, sharing their life experiences as well as witnessing spatial and cultural changes in many countries that they have lived. The male protagonist is played by a young Vietnamese-Norwegian man, who grew up in Norway and is now living in Vietnam; his character’s mental disorders and childhood memories are based on a real life story. The female singer’s role is played by one of the most successful Vietnamese singers who I’ve been working with in some of my performance projects. Although playing minor roles, the aspiring teenage dancers represent a new generation of youths who would dance and sing their hearts out in search for success in the new Vietnam.”
Tiffany Chung holds an MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara (2000) and a BFA from California State University, Long Beach (1998). She characterizes her work as “stinging satire on the building of candy-colored utopia as a veneer for dystopic realities of traumatized topographies.”
1230-1300 Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over by Trinh Thi Nguyen [Vietnam, 28 min, Vietnamese, English subtitles]
Using ‘exquisite corpse’, a method by which a collection of stories and images is collectively assembled, Nguyen Trinh Thi began her journey over the Vietnam War’s notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. The filmmaker asked local villagers to contribute their tales, merging reality with fiction in her search for the meaning of collective cultural memory and its relationship to ideas of space and sight.
Nguyen Trinh Thi is a Hanoi-based independent documentary filmmaker and video artist. She studied journalism and photography at the University of Iowa, and Southeast Asian studies and ethnographic film at University of California, San Diego. Her documentary and experimental films have been screened at festivals and exhibitions in the USA, Europe, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Festivals include San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, Vesoul Asian Film Festival, Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival, and the Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF).
In 2009, she founded Hanoi DOCLAB, a center for documentary filmmaking and video art in Hanoi.
In the Weera Kitjathorn Room
1000-1300 Lending Lenses shorts made possible by training organizations in SE Asia
The M.E.T.A program aims at strengthening the Cambodian documentary film scene. It is implemented by Cambodia’s first art and media center “Meta House” in cooperation with the Goethe Institute.
THE PEPPERFIELDS (2010 / 23 min) – A hundred years ago, the region of Kampot in Cambodia was well known across Europe as an agricultural province, producing “the best pepper in the world.” Due to Cambodia’s civil war and the Khmer Rouge genocide, Kampot Pepper was lost to the culinary world for almost 40 years. Today, former low-ranking Khmer Rouge soldiers are turning into entrepreneurs. Globalization provides greater export opportunities and small-scale pepper-farmers are taking advantage, determined to conquer international food markets. Politicians, NGOs and foreign businessmen are supporting Kampot´s pepper comeback. The filmmakers are Sao Sopheak (28), Pich Seyha (23), Ouen Dalin (23), Khin Sina (23) and Hem Vanna (26) – all Cambodian film students from the M.E.T.A. film school in Phnom Penh. The Pepperfields: From Genocide to Globalization was made possible through funding by the German political foundation “Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation” (FNS).
SMOT (2009 / 14 min) – This documentary presents the art of Smot, a traditional Cambodian form of poetry that is recited at funerals and a variety of Buddhist ceremonies. Smot is a traditional art form that has existed since ancient times in Cambodia among people of all classes and backgrounds. Nowadays, however, the tradition of Smot recitation is facing near extinction due to years of war and the subsequent loss of culture. Additionally, because many young Cambodians have little knowledge and appreciation of Smot, they have come to fear and dislike it when they hear Smot chanted. Thus, the number of Cambodians who still teach and recite this art form is still very small.
Things are beginning to change, however. With the support of Cambodia Living Arts, an organization promoting arts revival and education for young Cambodians, elderly Smot masters in the province of Kampong Speu have the opportunity to teach young Cambodians this unique art form. Master teachers, students, and members of the Cambodian Living Arts community understand that this precious art form will be lost forever if it is not supported and transmitted to youth in the present.
The filmmaker is Kavich Neang, a native of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and currently a second-year student at Limkokwing University majoring in Digital Film and Television. Currently 23 years old, Kavich was first exposed to traditional Khmer arts through the Cambodian Living Arts organization and has studied folk and classical Khmer dance over the past seven years. From October, 2009 until January-2010, Kavich was selected as a film student in Meta Film School and produced his documentary, “SMOT.”
Yangon Film School
A BRIGHT FUTURE
OUR FORESTS, OUR FUTURE (2009 / 23 min) – Since 1995, the Myanmar Forestry Department has awarded renewable thirty-year community forestry permits to local communities which enable local people to manage and benefit from their forests and protect the forests for future generations. So far, the Forestry Department has handed over 40,900 hectares of land to locals. In gentle yet heartfelt tones, U Kam Shawng, of Wainemaw Township in Kachin State, describes why his community has decided to put a stop to the systematic depletion of their forests and use their permit to promote sustainable timber farming. This film was directed by Zin Myo Sett and was made by Yangon Film Services and Productions, a Myanmar-based film production organization dedicated to the creation of a diverse media culture in Myanmar.
STIGMATIZE THIS! (2009 / 23 min) – In 2008, the UN Secretary-General launched UN Cares, the UN system wide workplace programme on HIV. In Myanmar the UN Cares team began a two-day training programme for UN staff at 35 sites around the country. The aim of these workshops was to increase HIV awareness and reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination among the 2,200 strong workforce. Following three trainers to sites in Chin State and the Ayeyerawaddy Delta, this short documentary intervweaves surprisingly frank interview material with often moving scenes filmed during workshop sessions to provide a warm and authentic record of a valuable programme.
MY POSITIVE LIFE (2008 / 20 min) – When 51-year-old U Chit Ko Ko learned six years ago that he was HIV-positive he thought his life was over. A friend encouraged him to visit the NGO “FXB” where counselling helped him to overcome his fear and depression. The warm, funny and remarkably open U Chit has since become an assistant social worker for this NGO, where he coordinates a Sunday Empowerment Group to provide valuable support to a growing but often stigmatised section of the population. The director, Yangon University art graduate Wai Mar Nyunt, was an assistant art teacher at a private school in Yangon before joining the Yangon Film School workshops in 2007.
1200-1300 lunch break
1300-1415 Lending Lenses: Building Skill and Capability In SE Asia
Panel Presentation, In the Singtoh Changtrakul Room
This panel presentation includes representatives involved with organizations around Southeast Asia. These organizations provide opportunity for local filmmakers to learn the skills necessary to tell their stories through film. Many of these organizations receive support and funding from the Goethe Institute.
Wai Mar Nyunt, Director, My Positive Life, Yangon Film School, Myanmar
Nico Mesterharm, Founder, Meta House
Ponsak Sukongkarattanakul, Trainer, Rung Uan
1430-1545 Bleeps, Blurs, and Bans - Film Censorship in Southeast Asia
Panel Presentation, In the Kaew Nettayotin Room
Tanwarin Sukhaphisit, Director, Insects in the Backyard
Amporn Jirattikorn, Dept of Social Sciences & Development, CMU
Thusanai Sethaseree, Faculty of Media Arts & Design, CMU
Moderator: Sirote Klampaiboon
1600-1730 Who Killed Chea Vichea? by Bradley Cox [Cambodia, 55 min, Khmer, English subtitles] In the Kaew Nettayotin Room
In 1999, Cambodian garment workers demanding decent wages and working conditions found their leader in Chea Vichea. As president of Cambodia’s free trade union, he stood with them despite beatings and death threats. Until a sunny morning in 2004. As Vichea read the paper at a sidewalk newsstand, three bullets silenced him forever. Under intense international pressure, the police arrested two men and extracted a confession. They were sentenced to 20 years each. But did they have anything to do with the crime? What seems at first to be justice done starts to look like a frame-up. And the implications reach far beyond the police station and the courtroom: to the headquarters of the ruling party and to the garment trade that is Cambodia’s economic lifeblood.
Director Bradley Cox shot Who Killed Chea Vichea? over five years, covering events as they happened and tracking down witnesses in a country where knowing too much can cost you your life. Since the completion of the film in 2010, the police in Cambodia have stopped two attempts to screen it and the Cambodian authorities announced that it is “forbidden” to screen it publicly there.
Who Killed Chea Vichea? is a highly charged murder mystery, a political thriller, and a documentary like no other.
1730-1830 dinner break
1830-2115 Only Love by Anousone Srisackda [Lao, 126 min, Lao, English subtitles] In the Kaew Nettayotin Room
After completing his university degree in Vientiane, Souvanh returns home determined to improve his agrarian village’s quality of life by reopening their Community Learning Center and by constructing a sustainable irrigation system. His efforts are supported by his childhood sweetheart, Duongchai, who agrees to postpone their wedding until after the center is stable.
When Namphet, the son of the owners of the village’s farming supply company, arrives from the city to collect on Duongchai’s family’s extensive debt, he falls in love with Duongchai and devises a plan for winning her heart which involves ‘rescuing’ her from a staged nighttime mugging in which Duongchai’s is nearly assaulted. At the same time, Namphet tries to sabotage Souvanh’s efforts to rebuild the community center.
The entire village places tremendous hope on Souvanh’s plans for the center. However, when the center fails to qualify for an important bank loan, many of the villagers lose faith in Souvanh choosing to take on high-interest loans from Namphet’s family. A sudden storm destroys much of the village’s crop yield, and Doungchai’s father breaks his leg. Namphet’s family takes Duongchai and her father to Vientiane for medical care, and Namphet tries to take advantage of Duongchai.
Souvanh becomes depressed and abandons the center. However, his father offers him advice and Souvanh resolves to continue to fight for the community center. Duongchai returns from the capital and forgives Souvanh. The center secures a loan from a second bank, and the villagers rally around the community center.
2130 ~ After Party @ Sangdee Gallery, Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5
Day 4 Sun 6 February
1000-1200 This Prison Where I Live by Rex Bloomstein
[Burma/ Myanmar, 90 min, Burmese, English, German] In the Kaew Nettayotin Room
Followed by Q&A with line producer, Justin Temple
Two men, joined by comedy, separated by repression.
This Prison Where I Live is a feature length documentary about two comedians. Maung Thura, better known as Zarganar, is Burma’s greatest living comic. Relentlessly victimized by the Burmese military junta, he is now in prison. Michael Mittermeier, in stark contrast, is free to practice his art of humor and provocation as one of Germany’s leading stand up comedians.
In 2007, Zarganar was interviewed by the British documentary filmmaker, Rex Bloomstein, despite being banned from all forms of artistic activity and talking to foreign media. This footage remained unseen. Two years later, hearing that Zarganar had been sentenced to 35 years in jail, Bloomstein teamed up with Michael Mittermeier and together they travelled secretly to Burma to make a film about this courageous man, who describes himself as the “loudspeaker” for the Burmese people, and to investigate humor under dictatorship.
1200-1300 lunch break
1200-1230 The Floating Tomatoes by Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi [Burma/Myanmar, 30 min, Burmese, English subtitles] In the Weera Kitjathorn Room
The Irrawaddy, Lawi Weng [July 2010]: Burmese filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi planned to shoot a documentary about the beauty of Inle Lake, but after seeing the environmental damage the once-pristine lake has incurred in recent years, he decided to use the film to educate the public about the degradation of one of his country’s natural wonders.
Inle Lake, Burma’s second largest inland body of water, is located in Taunggyi Township, the capital of Shan State. Encircled by mountains, the lake and its surroundings provide as beautiful a setting as you will find in Burma. Inle Lake is most famous for its floating houses and gardens and its local fisherman, who stand in their wooden boats, wrap one leg around an oar, and row by swinging their leg wide while dragging the oar through the water.
But as Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s documentary shows, the livelihood of these fisherman is now in jeopardy, partly due to the impact of farming practices used in the floating gardens and partly as a result of drought and deforestation in Shan State. The 30-minute documentary, titled “The Floating Tomatoes,” includes interviews with Inle Lake tomato farmers who have experienced health problems after years of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The water level recently at Inle Lake.
More than 100,000 people earn their livelihood by growing tomatoes in Inle Lake’s floating gardens. They use fertilizers and pesticides to produce higher yields, but most are unaware of the negative effect these chemicals have on their health and on the lake. They do know, however, that the water from the lake is no longer safe for drinking and cooking. “The people use more chemical fertilizers and pesticides than they need, and they don’t use anything to protect their health. They spray a lot of pesticides on their tomato gardens and those pesticides go directly into the water,” Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi told The Irrawaddy. Chemicals have also greatly reduced the fish population in the lake. This creates a vicious circle, because when people can’t fish for a living, they turn to tomato farming, resulting in even more chemicals being dumped into the lake.
The adverse effects of these practices are not limited to those who live around the lake. The tomatoes are sold as far afield as Mandalay and Rangoon, so the contaminants are “not only dangerous for the people who live on Inle Lake, but also for everyone who eats tomatoes in Burma,” said Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi.
The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is not the only cause of Inle Lake’s environmental decline. Both drought and deforestation—which increases the impact of drought by causing silt to build up in the lake—have also played a large role. Burmese environmentalists have found that the climate and biodiversity in the lake have changed to the point that this unique floating world may vanish forever. “People in Shan State don’t know how to maintain the forest,” said U Ohn. “There is so much logging that it has become deforested. This impacts the people who live on Inle Lake. The water level is getting low and the lake is threatened with extinction in the future. I am worried that the people are going to lose their natural way of life if no one helps them.”
According to a 2007 report by the University of Tokyo’s Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science, Inle Lake has decreased in size by more than one-third in the past 65 years, from 69 square km to just over 46 square km. The report blames the expansion of the lake’s famous floating gardens for 93 percent of the recent loss of water.
It’s not just the lake, but also its surroundings, that have been hard hit by changes in the climate. As water levels fall, temperatures are rising, reaching as high as 42 degrees Celsius this April, resulting in severe water shortages in many parts of the country, including Inle Lake.
1230-1330 Hanoi DOCLAB Shorts [Vietnam, 60 min] In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
Hanoi DOCLAB is a center/lab for documentary filmmaking and video art which opened in 2009 and which is based at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi. Four filmmakers are featured. Two other films in this series come from Hanoi DOCLAB: 1/ Love Man Love Woman by Nguyen Trinh Thi; and 2/ Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over by Nguyen Trinh Thi
The four films and filmmakers shown here are:
The Garden by Doan Hoang Kien. The director is a graduate of the Hanoi Fine Arts University, and has had a number of painting exhibitions and installations throughout Vietnam. Doan Hoang Kien graduated from the Vietnam National Circus School and the Moscow Circus School, and he has performed as a circus artist in Russia, Thailand, Lao, France, and Japan.
Friendgrandma by Pham Mai Phuong. Born 1985 in Hanoi, Pham Mai Phuong graduated from Hanoi National University and majored in Oriental Studies. He has participated in some Hanoi-DOCLAB courses studying documentary filmmaking, and is currently a student of the Film Studies Program, sponsored by the Ford Foundation. Friendgrandma (2010) is Phuong’s first step to becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Underneath It All by Do Van Hoang. A student of cinema art at Hanoi academy of theatre and cinema, Do Van Hoang scripted two films including The Heart of City and The Way of Ant (2009). He has directed two documentary films entitled Underneath it All, and At Water’s Edge,
Section Number 8 by Pham Thu Hằng. A cultural history major, Phạm Thu Hằng has created many projects about culture, environment, and education for ethnic minority communities in Vietnam. Since Oct 2009, Phạm Thu Hằng has trained in Hanoi DOCLAB in the fields of documentary film and video art. Section Number 8 is a film in the Long Bien project hosted by the British Council and shown in the “Long Bien Picture Show” exhibition.
1300-1415 People Living With Stories by Paul Zetter [Vietnam, 33 min, Vietnamese, English subtitles] In the Kaew Nettayotin Room; Followed by Q&A with Ian Bromage
People Living with Stories is a unique film project featuring eight people from a cross section of Vietnamese society specially commissioned for World AIDS Day 2010. In a series of short cameos, the eight participants reveal intimate moments about their lives such as love, bereavement, a first kiss, a wedding day, a memory of a lost love or a friend’s loyalty.
The central theme of the film is one of universal humanity – by telling their stories the participants reveal that we all share similar experiences. Thus the film attempts to tackle stigma and discrimination by defining people according to the stories that they tell and not through the labels that people give them.
The screening of People Living with Stories will be followed by a post-Q&A session with Ian Bromage, a VSO Volunteer currently working in Vietnam with the Centre for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP), as an organization development advisor. Although his background is in project management, he is an enthusiastic supporter and great fan of films and the cinema.
The idea for People Living with Stories was conceived as a way to use the medium of film to tackle the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV. The concept was to move away from the conventional documentary format that focuses upon stigma and discrimination, to one that presented people’s experiences and stories without the association of HIV. Its aim was to show people first, and HIV last, and thereby show the general public that people living with HIV share the same experiences as everyone else in their communities and thus should not be treated differently.
1430-1545 The Most Secret Place On Earth by Marc Eberle [Lao, 77 min, English] In the Pipat Trangratapit Room
The Vietnam War was the most intensely televised war ever. However, next door in neighboring Laos, the longest and largest air war in human history was underway, which eventually made Laos the most bombed country on earth. The Secret War was the largest operation ever conducted by the CIA, yet to this day, hardly anyone knows anything about it. Critics call it the biggest war crime of the Vietnam War era and point to striking similarities to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; similarities that were tested and set in motion back in Laos in the 1960s. In The Most Secret Place On Earth, key players of the Secret War– former CIA agents, American pilots, Laotian fighters and war reporters – take us on a journey into the physical heart of the conflict: Top secret Long Cheng, where the CIA built its headquarters in 1962. It was from this base that the Secret War was largely planned and executed. As the war dragged on, Long Cheng became the busiest airbase in the world and a major center for the global opium and heroin trade. As we journey into Long Cheng for the first time – the site has been off limits to the outside world since the end of the war in 1975 – the film reconstructs the gripping story of the operation and illustrates its relevance to current American conflicts.
1600-1900 dinner break & travel time
1900-2100 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives / ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ by Apichatpong Weerasethakul [Thailand, 120 min, Thai, English subtitles] Major Cineplex Chiang Mai, 4th Fl., Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport, Cinema 7
2100 ~ Closing Night After Party @ The 2nd Floor Gallery & Café, Ratwithi & Ratchapakinai intersection (above Kodak Store).
French Cinema Week
The Alliance Française of Chiang Mai is sponsoring a French Cinema Week to be held at their location from February 7 to 11 presenting a program of five French films: "Welcome" directed by Philippe Lioret, "Trouble at Timpeltill" directed by Nicolas Bary, "The Princess of the Sun" directed by Philippe Leclerc, "Baby Love" directed by Vincent Garenq, "The Secret of the grain" directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. All films will be screened in their original version with English subtitles. The Alliance Française is located at 138 Charoen Prathet Road, directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel.
Admission is free to the series.
Monday February 7th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M.
By Philippe Lioret
With Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana, Thierry Godard, Selim Akgül, Firat Celik, Murat Subasi, Olivier Rabourdin, Yannick Renier
Drama / 2008 / 1h50 mn
Bilal is a 17 years old Kurdish boy from Iraq. He wants to get to England to become a professional football player and meet up again with his girlfriend Mina who lives there. Bilal soon discovers that his trip won't be as easy as he imagined. To impress and regain his wife’s love, Simon, melancholic swimming instructor in Calais, will try helping Bilal to reach England…
IMDb viewer: Bilal is a 17 year-old Kurdish boy from Iraq, who has just taken an arduous, three-month journey to Calais in France desperately trying to get to his girlfriend/fiancée in London. But in Calais he becomes stuck with many other clan-destines or illegal immigrants. These are people without a country. The French won't send them back to the Mid-East because there is a war going on. But they are not welcomed in France because they are clearly illegals. Even the local French people will violate French law if they help these clan-destines.
With this backdrop, Bilal comes up with the idea that he can swim the English Channel to get to his girlfriend. There is only one problem. He can't swim. He goes to a middle-aged French swim instructor, Simon, who not only teaches him how to swim, but also befriends him. Simon has his own problems. He is divorcing his wife and is terribly lonely. Bilal and Simon need each other and form a strangely beautiful symbiotic relationship.
This is a quiet and powerful statement on the individual courage and sacrifice of normal human beings. Bilal and Simon are single-minded in trying to do the right thing and will not be put off their objective. This is a very moving film that haunts you afterwords. It does not take a stand on legal or illegal immigration. It merely shows that these clan-destines are human like the rest of us and have their own stories.
New York Times, Stephen Holden: Puts you so completely into the shoes of a young man facing almost insurmountable obstacles that you feel a profound empathy not only for him but also for all who are ready to risk everything for the dream of a better life.
Tuesday February 8th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M.
Trouble at Timpeltill
By Nicolas Bary
With Raphaël Katz, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léo Legrand, Gérard Depardieu, Carole Bouquet, Armelle
Comedy, Adventure / 2008 / 1h35 mn
In the village of Timpeltill, the children pass their time playing pranks on others and resist every kind of authority. At the end of their rope, the parents decide to leave the village... for what they think will be a day. A village with no parents! It's not bad news for everyone. Two gangs of children then confront each other, each determined to be the sole gang to control the place.
Wednesday February 9th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M.
The Princess of the Sun
By Philippe Leclerc
Animated film / 2005 / 1h17 mn
Ancient Egypt: the 18th dynasty. Akhesa, a ravishing 14-year-old princess, doesn't have the slightest notion that she will one day rule Egypt. The impetuous young girl rebels against her father, Pharaoh Akhenaton. She refuses to live confined with the royal palace's walls and wants to discover why her mother, Queen Nefertiti, has been exiled to Elephantine Island. With the help of Prince Tutankhamen, Akhesa runs away, hoping to find her mother. With innocence their only weapon, Akhesa and Tutankhamen overcome all kinds of tests and ordeals, and encounter an extraordinary destiny that will unite them forever.
Thursday February 10th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M.
BY Vincent Garenq
With Lambert Wilson, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Pascal Elbé, Anne Brochet, Andrée Damant, Florence Darel, Marc Duret
Romantic comedy / 2008 / 1h33 mn
Manu, a gay pediatrician in his forties, would be perfectly happy if he could adopt a child and bring him or her up with his partner, Philippe, a lawyer. Where the shoe pinches is that Philippe is pleased with his present life and will not have it spoiled by the invading presence of a baby. Manu is however single-minded about finding a surrogate mother, willing to give him the child he craves. Fina, an Argentine beauty trying to get a job, but held back because of her lack of immigrant papers, might do the job for him in exchange for a marriage of convenience.
Friday February 11th, 2011, at 6:00 P.M. & 8:40 P.M.
The Secret of the Grain
By Abdellatif Kechiche
With Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Faridah Benkhetache, Abdelhamid Aktouche, Bouraouïa Marzouk, Cyril Favre
Drama / 2007 / 2h31 mn
At the port of Sète, Mr. Beiji, a tired 60-year-old, drags himself toward a shipyard job that has become more and more difficult to cope with as the years go by. He is a divorced father who forces himself to stay close to his family despite the tensions that are easily sparked off and that financial difficulties make even more intense. He wants to escape from it all and set up his own restaurant. Thanks to its ingeniousness and hard work, this dream soon becomes a reality...or almost....
At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon." A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
On Friday, February 4: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Elevator to the Gallows / Frantic (1958) by Louis Malle – 88 mins – Drama / Crime / Thriller. 16 mm film, B&W. English subtitles. Music by Miles Davis.
With Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin, Jean Wall, Elga Andersen, Sylviane Aisenstein, and Micheline Bona.
An industrialist is assassinated, but an elevator breakdown prevents a perfect crime.
– Alliance description
Louis Malle's 1957 masterpiece of suspense and film noir starring Jeanne Moreau, in the role that catapulted her to international stardom. A wonderful original score by the legendary Miles Davis. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 93 out of 100.
It's a tightly structured thriller with a brilliantly moody performance by Jeanne Moreau, and depending on your point of view, it's either one of the few genuine French noir films or an early entry in the New Wave.
The plot is virtually archetypal: Moreau and her ex-paratrooper lover (Maurice Ronet) plot the murder of her husband, but one minor oversight launches a disastrous stream of consequences. We've got a murderer trapped in an elevator with the cops closing in, a beautiful woman wandering the Parisian streets alone and a couple of hotheaded kids in a stolen convertible with a loaded gun. The cinematography by Henri Decaë is amazing -- and yes, Davis' awesome cool-jazz score is even better with pictures attached.
It's clear from the opening minutes of Elevator to the Gallows why this 1957 film -- with its ahead-of-its-time sense of style, its haunting yet cool score improvised by Miles Davis and its ironic, post-modern take on film noir -- became the progenitor of a whole New Wave in French cinema.
The uncomplicated yet ingeniously knotted plot takes a classic noir murder -- a man killing his lover's husband so they can be together -- and strips away the genre clichés. Malle then fills the void with the introspective moodiness, dynamic camerawork, unadorned location shots, and stylized but emotionally naked performances that would become a hallmark of the New Wave pictures that followed by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and Malle himself.
Next regular showing will be on Friday, February 25: 13 m² / 13m2 (2007) by Barthélémy Grossmann – 84 mins – France Crime/ Drama/ Thriller. Black and white. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 82 out of 100.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
February is “The Month of Musical” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the Chiang Mai University (CMU) Art Museum (at 239 Nimmanhemin Road, corner of Suthep Road), in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave at least 20 baht. Well worth supporting. All films not in English are shown with English subtitles.
At Film Space Saturday, February 5, 7 pm: The Wizard of Oz (1939) by Victor Fleming – 1 hr 41 mins – US, Adventure/ Comedy/ Fantasy. An absolute masterpiece whose groundbreaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant now as they were in 1939. A must-see film for young and old. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 92 out of 100.
Some Trivia (from IMDb):
A recent study claimed that this is the most watched movie in film history, largely due to the number of television screenings each year as well as video which has enabled children of every generation to see it.
Many of the Wicked Witch of the West's scenes were either trimmed or deleted entirely, as Margaret Hamilton's performance was thought too frightening for audiences.
The title role was written with W.C. Fields in mind. Producer Mervyn LeRoy wanted Ed Wynn, who turned down the role. MGM executive Arthur Freed wanted Fields, and offered him $75,000. Fields supposedly wanted $100,000. According to a letter from Fields' agent (which he claimed was written by Fields) Fields turned down the role to devote his time to writing the script for You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939). Since the role was perceived as being too small, additional roles were written for the actor in hopes of balancing the screen time for the actor playing the wizard with that of the rest of the cast. Thus Frank Morgan plays the roles of the Wizard, Professor Marvel, the Gatekeeper, the cab driver with the "horse of a different color" who performs a musical number, and the Wizard's Guard.
Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Man
Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Woodsman. However, he insisted that he would rather play the Scarecrow - his childhood idol, Fred Stone had originated that role on stage in 1902. Buddy Ebsen had been cast as the Scarecrow, and now switched roles with Bolger. Unbeknownst to him, however, the make-up for the Tin Man contained aluminum dust, which ended up coating Ebsen's lungs. He also had an allergic reaction to it. One day he was physically unable to breathe and had to be rushed to hospital. The part was immediately recast and MGM gave no public reason why Ebsen was being replaced. The actor considered this the biggest humiliation he ever endured and a personal affront. When 'Jack Haley' took over the part of the Tin Man, he wasn't told why Ebsen had dropped out (and in the meantime, the Tin Man make-up had changed from aluminum dust to aluminum paste as one of its key components). However, his vocals remain whenever the song "We're off to see the Wizard" is played. Jack Haley's vocals were never used during the song, but were used for "If I only had a Heart" and "If I only had the Nerve." Ebsen's vocals are also heard in the extended version of "If I were King of the Forest," though the spoken segment has Jack Haley. Although no Ebsen footage from the film has ever been released, surviving still photos show him taking part in the Wicked Witch's castle sequence.
At Film Space Saturday, February 12, 7 pm: Across the Universe (2007) by Julie Taymor – 2 hrs 13 mins – US, Adventure/ Drama/ Musical. A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. It’s a love story set against the backdrop of the 1960s amid the turbulent years of antiwar protest, mind exploration, and rock and roll. The film moves from the dockyards of Liverpool and the creative psychedelia of Greenwich Village to the riot-torn streets of Detroit and the killing fields of Vietnam. The star-crossed lovers, Jude and Lucy are swept up into the emerging antiwar-counterculture movements. They are also joined by a small group of friends and musicians, with "Dr. Robert" and "Mr. Kite" as their guides. Tumultuous forces outside their control ultimately tear the young lovers apart, forcing Jude and Lucy--against all odds--to find their own way back to each other. Directed by Julie Taymor, and it’s a bold, beautiful, visually enchanting musical. Mixed or average reviews: 56/58 out of 100.