Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival 2010

Pawit Mahasarinand
, dramatic arts teacher at Chulalongkorn University, again puts together a great line-up of foreign films that are unreleased and under-appreciated in Thailand.

The Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival 2010 will screen six films on Mondays and Fridays from January 11 to February 8. They are Caramel from Lebanon, Everlasting Moments from Sweden, Still Walking from Japan, Tulpan from Kazakhstan, Revanche from Austria and Mid-August Lunch from Italy.

After the screening, there will be a panel discussion by Thai film critics Kittisak Suvannapokhin, Nopamat Veohong and Kong Rithdee.

The show time is 5pm in the Boromrajakumari Building, Room 503 (seating capacity: 320). Free parking next to Chulalongkorn University Auditorium. All films (DVD format) are with English subtitles. Admission is free. For more details, see the festival website. Here's the line-up:

Caramel, Monday, January 11

Described as the "Lebanese Sex and the City", Caramel (Sukkar Banat) is a ensemble comedy about five Lebanese women of different ages and religions who gather in a Beirut beauty salon and discuss their views on live, love and sex. It's directed by Nadine Labaki and was a winner of three prizes at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and the Fipresci Prize at the Stockholm festival in 2007.

Everlasting Moments, Friday, January 15

This fact-based drama is set during the early 1900s in Sweden. The wife of an alcoholic, womanizing man undergoes a transformation when she wins a camera in a lottery. Encouraged to start taking and developing photographs, the camera grants her the eyes to view the world. Everlasting Moments (Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick) was Sweden's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards and was among the nine films that made last year's shortlist. It was also a foreign-language nominee for the Golden Globes and won numerous prizes in Sweden's Guldbagge Awards.

Still Walking, Monday, January 18

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda gained much international acclaim for this 2004 childhood drama Nobody Knows and his most recent film Air Doll was the toast of the film-fest circuit last year, and it's coming to Bangkok's House cinema on January 14. From 2008, Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo) is a family drama that takes place over one summer day when grown children come to visit their elderly parents. They have gathered to commemorate the tragic death of the eldest son, who drowned in an accident 15 years ago. Although the roomy house is as comforting and unchanging as the mother's homemade feast, everyone in the family has subtly changed. Among many honors for this film, Kore-eda won the best director prize at last year's Asian Film Awards.

Tulpan, Monday, February 1

Asa, a young sailor fresh who has returned home to Kazakhstan after serving in the Russian Navy, arrives at the home of his sister. He is desperate for a farm of his own. But before his brother-in-law will entrust him, he must find a wife to settle down to the nomadic lifestyle that still exists in this harsh and unforgiving landscape. Unfortunately, the only eligible girl for miles is the beautiful Tulpan. And she has other plans as she thinks Asa's ears are too big! This is the opening scene of Tulpan, the first full-length feature of Sergei Dvortsevoy. It was Kazakhstan's submission to the 2009 Academy Awards and winner of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival Prix Un Certain Regard, the grand prix at the Tokyo festival and the best cinematography award for Jolanta Dylewska at last year's Asian Film Awards.

Revanche, Friday, February 5

In a ragged section of Vienna, Alex works as an assistant in a brothel, where he falls for Ukrainian hooker Tamara. Their plans for escape brings them in contact with a rural policeman named Robert and his wife and results in a web of guilt and revenge that knits together the lives of two very different couples. Directed by Götz Spielmann, Revanche was a nominee for last year's Oscar for best foreign language film and has won several awards at film festivals.

Mid-August Lunch, Monday, February 8

In this Italian comedy, a cash-strapped middle-aged man is put in care of not only his own bossy mother but also the mother and aunt of the deputy landlord and his doctor's mother. That's four women, with a combined age of around 350! Over the course of one day and one night, Gianni tends to their troubles and cause him trouble as they talk about boys, eat and even, in one case, wander off in the middle of the night. Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio, the screenwriter of the gritty and unglamorous Mafia tale Gomorra, Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di ferragosto), has won several awards, including three prizes at the 2008 Venice Film Festival.

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