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Ten films, offering a variety of viewpoints, are gathered together in the Harvest of Talents

In what is emerging as a tradition, the final five days of the World Film Festival of Bangkok salutes some of the best the global film industry has to offer by presenting the "Harvest of Talents" competition.

Published on October 19, 2007

Ten films, offering a variety of viewpoints, are gathered together in the Harvest of Talents

This year, ten films from Argentina, Austria, France, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey and the US have been selected. 

The competition is packed with variety, with subjects that include political intrigue and tearful love affairs. The only qualification they have to have in common is the universal subjects.

"It doesn't have to be a film about politics or heavy social issues. Just anything everyone can relate to, and in any genre," says Kriengsak "Victor" Silakong, the festival director. "Another thing, though, is that we try not to choose multi-award winning films or ones that have been to too many film festivals already. We want to bring young, aspiring filmmakers into the limelight and give them a platform at this festival to showcase their talents."

Jiska Rickels' "4 Elements" was nominated for its decent story telling and cinematic approach on global warming. "Egg" takes a powerful and energetic approach in a portrayal of devotion to family. "Love Songs" takes a musical approach to tragic love. "Phantom Love" is a surreal, black and white drama.

Films with lighter moods are also featured. "The Band's Visit", which is based on a true story takes a loving and warm approach to the usually harsh issues of Middle Eastern politics. From Singapore, "881" delves into the colourful world of "getai" singers. Austria's "Import Export" and Argentina's "Possible Lives" and Taiwan's "Help Me Eros" take bold, humorous and exquisite looks at sex and sexuality. From Japan, "Tokyo Tower", is notable as a showcase Asian melodramatic style and subject matter.

A five-member jury will choose the winners for best feature, best script, best art direction and the jury's prize. The awards will be presented at 6pm on November 3 at Esplanade Cinema 3 (invitation only) before screening of "Garden in Autumn".

The jury members are German cinematographer-director Fred Kelemen (whose work can be seen in Bela Tarr's "The Man from London", screening at the festival), Thai director Ittisoontorn Vichailak ("The Overture"), Bangkok-based Danish painter Elizabeth Romhild, Thai critic Niwat Kongpian, Kulthep Narula, executive director of Benetone Film Company.

Manta Klangboonkrong  


Directed by Royston Tan (Singapore, 2007)

Starring Qi Yu Wu, Yann Yann Yeo, Mindee Ong, Ling Ling Liu, Xin Wang

Awards: Submitted by Singapore for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Two Singaporean girls join together to form the Papaya Sisters - a "getai" singing duo. Although they live to sing, the duo's act lacks "feel" until they seek advice from the "goddess of getai". She provides them with the required "feel", but on the condition that they accept a set of rules, which includes staying chaste. With their new-found singing ability, the two soon rise to the top of the Singaporean getai scene singing traditional Hokkien songs, but their fame brings along with it the enmity of the Durian Sisters, a rival group of techno-singing Eurasian girls.

3.40pm October 30, 8.20pm,

November 1, Cinema 6

The Band's Visit

Directed by Eran Kolirin (Israel/France, 2007)

Starring Ronit Elkabetz, Sasson Gabai, Uri Gavriel

Awards: Winner, Un Certain Regard - Jury Coup de Coeur, 2007 Cannes Film Festival

Based on a true story, a small ceremonial band from the Egyptian Police arrives in Israel to play at an initiation ceremony. But, due to bureaucracy and bad luck, they are left stranded in a tiny Israeli desert town. They reluctantly decide to stay the night until the next bus arrives in the morning. Through the connections they forge, the band members and the villagers find their cultural assumptions shaken - with one especially memorable scene taking place in a roller disco.

3.30pm October 31, 3.20pm November 2,

Cinema 10,

4 Elements

Directed by Jiska Rickels (Netherlands, 2006)

The documentary film comprises four chapters that depict human endeavour in the face of the four elements. The first part, "Fire", sees a group of firefighters operating in the Siberian forests where extensive fires break out regularly during the summer months. "Water" takes place off the coast of Alaska, where crab hunters are forced to endure the claustrophobic environment of their fishing boat and are tossed by stormy waters. "Earth" depicts miners working in a huge German mine where, along the endless corridors leading to the core of the mountain, they encounter signposts saying eloquently, "To Hell". "Air" examines the extreme physical and psychological strain that astronauts face as they prepare for their journey into space.

6pm October 30, 6.20pm November 1, Cinema 6

Help Me Eros

Directed by Lee Kang-Sheng  (Taiwan, 2007)

Starring Lee Kang-Sheng, Yin Hsin, Jane Liao

Awards: Nominee for the Golden Lion

at the 2007 Venice Film Festival

Ah Jie lost everything in the stock market. He spends his days in his sealed apartment, smoking joints and looking after the marijuana plants that he secretly grows in his wardrobe. In desperation, he calls a suicide help line and gets to know Chyi, whose sweet and gentle voice causes him to fall in love with his fantasised image of her. He tries to ask her out but is repeatedly rejected. He begins projecting his fantasy of Chyi on Shin, the sexily dressed new girl working at the betel nut stall downstairs. He becomes closer to her and soon the two of them sink into a world of erotic and psychedelic pleasures.

8.20pm October 31, 5.20pm November 2, Cinema 6


Directed by Semih Kaplanogl (Turkey, 2007)

Starring Nejat Isler, Saadet Aksoy, Ufuk Bayraktar

When his mother dies, Yusuf, a poet, returns to his home village, which he has not visited for years. A young girl named Ayla, who had been living with his mother for the past five years, is waiting for him in a decrepit house. She has a request to make: Yusuf

must perform the sacrificial rite that his mother, Zehra, could not fulfil before she died. On their

way to the saint's tomb, they are obliged to spend

the night in a hotel. Caught up in the atmosphere

of a wedding party at the hotel, Yusuf and Ayla find themselves drawn together.

3.40pm October 30, 8.20pm November 1, Cinema 10

Import Export

Directed by Ulrich Seidl (Austria, 2006)

Starring Maria Hofstetter, Georg Friedrich, Herbert Fritsch, Susanne Lothar, Natalya Baranova

The pursuit of happiness and material advantages, the darker sides of sexuality and death and the difficulties of cleaning the teeth of a stuffed fox are explored as two individual fates move in opposite directions. Olga, a nurse from Ukraine, abandons her family to look for a better life in the West and ends up working as a cleaning woman in a geriatric ward in Austria. Paul, an unemployed security guard from Vienna heads East with his stepfather one day, and they end up in Ukraine.

8pm October 30, 3.30pm November 1, Cinema 6

Love Songs

Directed by Christophe Honore (France, 2007)

Starring Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni

Awards: Nominee for the Palm d'Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival

The musical drama centres on Ismael and Julie, a beautiful young couple who have been together for eight years. They find that their relationship is becoming a little flat. Bringing Alice, Ismael's co-worker, into the relationship has created a comfortable menage trois, but also makes other issues more apparent. Then tragedy strikes, and Ismael struggles to make sense of his life and move on.

8pm October 30, 8.20pm November 1, Cinema 10

Phantom Love

Directed by Nina Menkes (US, 2007)

Cast Marina Shoif, Juliette Marquis, Allison Bell,

Helen Bubenechik, Michael Joseph Carr

Stark black-and-white photography creates a powerful document about one woman's descent into her own self. Lulu spends most of her life working in a casino in Los Angeles's Koreatown. Her much younger lover, with whom she feels no emotional connection, and her sister Nitzan, who is on medication and in the middle of a nervous breakdown, share the rest of her time. Lulu's visiting mother offers unwanted help because she only complicates things and worsens the situation for Lulu.

6pm October 30, 3.30pm November 1, Cinema 10

Possible Lives

Directed by Sandra Gugliotta (Argentina, 2006)

Starring German Palacios, Guillermo Arengo, Ana Celentano, Marina Glezer

Geologist Luciano disappears on his way to a hotel in remote Patagonia. His wife Clara, an artist with an air more suited to Buenos Aires than the outback, heads down south to try to get answers, but a police inspector holds out little hope of finding anyone in the vast emptiness. One day Clara sees a

man she's convinced is her husband, but Luis Miconi has

been a resident of those parts for six years except for an unexplained period when he disappeared. Convinced that

Luis, a real estate agent, is her amnesiac husband, Clara

spies on him and his wife then poses as a prospective home buyer just so she can get closer.

3.30pm October 31, 3.20pm November 2, Cinema 6

Tokyo Tower - Mom & Me, and Sometimes Dad

Directed by Joji Matsuoka (Japan, 2007)

Starring Jo Odagiri, Kirin Kiki, Yayako Uchida, Takako Matsu

Based on Lily Franky's popular autobiography, the film tells the story of a talented but lazy illustrator Masaya, who leaves his small Kyushu mining town to spend his youth drifting through Tokyo's bohemian university scene. After spiralling into a complete downfall, his life changes when his mother is diagnosed with cancer, and she comes to live

with him in Tokyo. The narrative criss-crosses between Masaya's childhood and adult life as he watches over his cancer-ridden mother's hospital bed.

8.20pm October 31, 5.20pm November 2, Cinema 10

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