The Nation/Asia News Network
A still from 'Night Bus.' (Nightbus Pictures/File)
The Bangkok Asean Film Festival returns for its fourth edition tomorrow to SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and this year promises to be better than ever with 10 of the 13 movies selected vying for recognition in the Best Asean Film Award competition.
Organized by Thailand’s Culture Ministry of Culture in partnership with the National Federation of Motion Pictures and Contents Association, the festival, which continues through Sunday, celebrates the 51st anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean.
The competition aims to promote the strength of Southeast Asian filmmakers, and will reward the winner with a trophy and $10,000 (Bt330,000) while the film awarded Jury Prize will earn a trophy and $5,000.
This year’s jury is made up of Yoshi Yatabe, head of programming of Tokyo International Film festival; Kiki Fung, a programmer for |the Hong Kong International |Film Festival; and Prawit TaengAksorn, a Thai film lecturer, critic and board member of the Thai Film Archive.
The festival opens with “Eullenia” by Bangkok-based British director Paul Spurrier, who made a major splash with his directorial debut “Paa” (“The Forest”). For “Eullenia”, Spurrier is again working with actor Vitthaya Pansringarm in a tale centered on Marcus Hammond (Alec Newman), the founder of a powerful finance company called Eullenia, which specializes in giving out micro-loans to low-earning people in Southeast Asia. But Hammond’s dark secret and a self-destructive desire threaten to put an end to his empire.
Other films showing include:
“Nen Kradote Kamphang” (“The Wall”)
This film, the only Thai movie in the competition and directed by Boonsong Nakphoo mixes documentary with fiction, telling the story of a film director who experiences a rollercoaster of emotions, dreams, and secrets while scouting for location.
The acclaimed drama from the Philippines has won several awards since the beginning of the year. Set in 1988, near the end of the dictatorial rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, the film focuses on the life of an eight-year-old child who accidentally discovers something that helps “translate” thoughts of nervous people.
From Malaysia hails this tale of two brothers, one of them autistic and a highly talented musician.
“In The Life of Music”
A testament to love, war, and family relationships, this film from Cambodia spans three decades through the song “Champa of Battambang”, a classic tune by Sinn Sisamuth.
This thriller from Indonesia is set on a night bus to Sampah, a remote town where the military is fighting a separatist movement. One of the passengers is coming to end the conflict and his presence puts everyone in danger.
“Passage of Life”
A co-production between Myanmar and Japan, “Passage” depicts a Myanmar family living in Japan. Their two sons grow up like typical Japanese children. The mother longs to go back to Myanmar, but the father is unable to leave his job. One day, they receive a letter that will change their lives forever.
The winner of three awards at the 2017 Shanghai International Film Festival 2017 including best film, the Malaysian drama tells the story of Ah Qiang, a poor teenage boy who lives with his sick mother and his five-year-old sister in a small apartment. When Ah Qiang’s sister is in an accident, he realises the agony of the underprivileged class and has to fight tooth and nail with the hospital and the bureaucracy to maintain his sister’s rights and dignity.
“The Ashes And Ghosts of Tayug 1931”
This black-and-white oeuvre from the Philippines tells the story of a filmmaker who travels to the town of Tayug, in Pangasinan, to research the story of Pedro Calosa, a local hero and central figure in the Uprising of 1931.
This Indonesia-Netherlands-Australia-Qatar co-production depicts a 10-year-old girl during the final moments of her twin brother Tantra and their imaginary journey as she hovers between hope and despair.
“Their Remaining Journey”
The spirit of a dead actor is trapped in a stranger’s family as she waits for reincarnation. As a ghost, she watches the lives of the people around her and reflects on the losses suffered by her own family.
The festival also celebrates the film heritage of Asean by showing three classic films: “Kakabakaba Ka Ba?” ( 1980 ) by Filipino director Mike De Leon; “MeePok Man” ( 1986 ) by Singaporean director Eric Khoo; and “Sawan Mued” (“Dark Heaven”), the 1965 Thai drama by director Ratana Pestonji.
Admission to all films is free and tickets can be picked up the tickets 30 minutes before each show.
Join the conversation at facebook.com/BangkokAseanFilmFestival.