Monday, June 4, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 Bangkok

Around 30 features and shorts, mostly from around Asia, will screen in the International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 Bangkok from June 7 to 10 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

Part of events celebrating 2,600 years since the Lord Buddha's enlightenment, it's a collaboration between filmmaker Pimpaka Towira, who's previously programmed the for-now-defunct Bangkok International Film Festival, and Gaetano Kazuo Maida, executive director of the Buddhist Film Foundation, which puts on the International Buddhist Film Festival.

Among the highlights is several older films, such as 1989's Come, Come, Come Upward by South Korea's Im Kwon-taek, 1979's Raining in the Mountain by King Hu, 1967's Yellow Robe from Sri Lanka, 1996's Gone, Gone, Forever Gone by Ho Quang Minh from Vietnam, and from Myanmar, Talking Heart, a 1968 drama by Thu Kha.

There's also Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, an award-winning Iranian film that's set in Afghanistan and deals with a girl who simply wants to go to school but is stymied at every turn.

Another noteworthy film is the 2011 feature by Cambodia's Rithy Panh, The Catch, adapted from a novel by Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe. Panh sets it during the Khmer Rouge era, with a boy soldier guarding an African-American POW.

Among the Thai selection will be brand-new shorts by well-known filmmakers Chookiat Sakveerakul, Uruphong Raksasad and Sivaroj Kongsakul. There's also an offering by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, his 2007 short Morakot, and classic films from South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The fest actually opens on Wednesday night at the Scala Theatre with an invitation-only screening of The Light of Asia, the 1925 silent by Franz Osten and Himansu Rai. The Korphai band conducted by Anan Nakkhong will provide live Thai classical accompaniment. Restored in 2001 by Europe's Arte channel, it's the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the man who become Lord Buddha.

The festival is also holding a competition for student filmmakers, with 13 shorts being screened.

Well-known monks V Vachiramethi, Jayasaro Bhikku, Phra Paisal Visalo and Phra Dhamma Kosajarn also selected some films for the Carte Blanche program.

Tickets are 120 baht.

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