The 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival a celebration of the best shorts from around the world
The 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival gets underway this week at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, screening some of this year’s best Thai independent and student shorts as well as special programmes of films from all over the world.
It all starts at 5.30pm on Thursday with the local premiere of “Ashes”, one of the latest by Cannes Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Premiered earlier this year on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, the 20-minute experimental work was shot with the retro hand-cranked Lomokino 35mm camera. It’s politically tinged, with Article 112, the controversial lese majeste law, credited among the “stars”. Also starring in “Ashes” is King Kong, but not the giant ape – she’s Apichatpong’s dog.
Other opening shorts are “Pitch Black Heist”, starring Michael Fassbender, which is part of the Bafta package sponsored by the British Council, Thailand. And there’s “Il Capo”, which looks at the fascinating movements in a Italian marble quarry. It’s part of the annual Best of Clermont-Ferrand package from the French short-film fest that’s the biggest in the world. The opening night will also feature shorts by French comedy king Jacques Tati.
One of many special programmes this year comes from Friends Without Borders, a Chiang Mai NGO that works with the migrant community. It includes the latest from director Supamok Silarak, “The Assembly of the Samurais”, a behind-the-scenes feature documentary on the Friends Without Borders Holding Hands filmmaking workshop that brought together five ethnic filmmakers. It premiered earlier this year at Chiang Mai’s Fly Beyond the Barbwire Fence Festival.
The shorts from the workshop will also be shown. “Ja Daw’s Choices” is a romantic drama that’s the first film by young Lahu Mo Tha, who is the main subject of “The Assembly of the Samurais”. “A Comb and a Buckle” is a family drama by Ja Bue, another young Lahu. “Jabo Meets the Man of Fortune” is an action-drama by Lahu director Maitree chamroensuksakul. “Ta Mu La” is a refugee’s tale by Saw Shee Keh Sher, a Karen environmental activist. And there’s “When the Sky’s Colour Changes”, a comedy by Hmong NGO leader Insree Khampeepanyakul. It’s about a district chief who unwittingly travels to a future in which the only safe places on earth are highland villages. “Ta Mu La” and “Jabo” were both award-winners at the Barbwire fest.
One of the Thai Short Film and Video Festival’s annual programmes focuses on “queer” films, which this year takes a tuneful twist with Queer Musical! The programme offers five shorts focusing on sexuality: “skallamann” by Maria Bock from Norway, “Boy Meets Boy” by Gwang-soo Kim Jho from South Korea, “Au Clair de la Lune” by Dominique Filhol and Antoine Espagne from France, “Slut the Musical” by Tonnette Stanford from Australia and “Put Your Fur Up” by Thai filmmaker Phuwadon Torasint.
Spiritual matters are addressed in Dharma Shorts, featuring three new works by well-known Thai filmmakers: “Sang-Yen” by Sivaroj Kongsakul, “I Dreamed a Dream” by Chookiat Sakveerakul and “In the Farm” by Uruphong Raksasad. All premiered earlier this year at the Buddhist International Film Festival Bangkok.
More-pressing worries are examined in Apocalypse Now – not the Vietnam War epic, but a package of shorts by three filmmakers on the end of the world. They are “Portrait of the Universe” by Napat Treepalawisetkun, “L’ Attaque du Monstre Géant Suceur de Cerveaux de l’Espace” from France and “Armadingen” from Germany.
Another compilation is this year’s selection from the Digital Project of South Korea’s Jeonju International Film Festival, featuring works by three Asian filmmakers: “The Great Cinema Party” by the Philippines’ Raya Martin, “Light in Yellow Breathing Space” by Sri Lanka’s Vimukthi Jayasundara and “When Night Falls” by China’s Ying Liang.
Ying Liang will be among the filmmakers presenting a masterclass from 1 to 5 on August 24. Other masterclasses will be taught on Friday by Professor Nina Dvorko, founder of the Interactive Art University at St Petersburg State University of Film and Television, and on August 23 by Lee Chatametikool, editor of many award-winning Thai films. The masterclasses will have Thai translation or will be in Thai, and attendees must register beforehand.
Another annual feature of the Thai Short Film and Video Fest is the S-Express packages of shorts from around the region. This year features programmes from the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Of course the main reason for the festival is the competition sections for Thai indie shorts, student films, Thai animation, short documentaries and international filmmakers.
The 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival runs daily from Thursday until August 26 except Monday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.
Screenings are in the fifth-floor auditorium and in the fourth-floor conference room. Admission is free.
For more details, search for “16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival” on Facebook or visit www.ThaiFilm.com.