When the Bangkok International Film Festivalgot underway last Thursday, I'm sure the organizers breathed a giant sigh of relief. Now in its fifth year, the festival has been plagued by long-standing problems. In February 2006, Grady Hendrix described past difficulties: "It's organized out of Los Angeles, most of the movies aren't subtitled in Thai, and money is spent lavishly to bring over industry people who couldn't care less about the festival's interest-free programming and instead love getting a free trip to Bangkok." Things didn't improve and the LA organizers were out by November 2006 -- not very good timing for a festival planned for late January 2007.

Indeed, one month later the festival announced a six-month delay because they had not been able to come to an agreement with the operators of the key theatrical venue in downtown Bangkok. Further adding to their woes, the festival had been heavily dependent upon government funding, which was cut severely after a bloodless coup last fall. The announcement of Persepolis as the opening night film seemed to be a step in the right direction, but then it was yanked under pressure from the Iranian embassy. The Hungarian Children of Glory was the replacement.

Thai boxing picture Muay Thai Chaiya will close the festival, while another Thai film, the "decidedly independent" Bangkok Time (pictured), "a movie that captures its characters in a state of prolonged stupor and half-dream," according to the Bangkok Post," will also have its world premiere. Other Asian films drawing attention include The Rebel, a martial arts-fueled Vietnamese period piece, which got picked up The Weinstein Co. for a probable direct to DVD release, and the upcoming Malaysian action flick Brave, which is not playing the festival but was unveiled at the Bangkok Film Market.
categories Cinematical