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Thai Film Festival - 'Bangkok: Cinema City' MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON & BLISSFULLY YOURS

Thai Film Festival - 'Bangkok: Cinema City' MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON & BLISSFULLY YOURS

Exciting Films from Thailand with English subtitles Friday, June 4 - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Saturday, June 05, 2004
7:30 PM - 11:00 PM
James Bridges Theater
Melnitz Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Saturday, June 5
7:30 pm
Los Angeles Premiere
MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON (Dogfahr Nai Meu Man) (2000) 

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul shakes up the boundaries between documentary and fiction in this hypnotic and deeply affecting film.  Following the idea of the surrealist “exquisite corpse,” Weerasethakul journeys all over Thailand asking ordinary people (a fishmonger, a boxer, a posse of schoolchildren, and so on) to contribute episodes to a chain story that begins with a mysterious object rolling from underneath a teacher’s skirt, and unfolds into an increasingly bizarre tale of aliens, impostors, demons and plane crashes.  In a striking demonstration of cinema as waking dream, the unfinished story is brought immediately to life in a surprisingly delicate fictional enactment of the rapidly morphing events.  The exquisite pleasure of this film derives from the subtlety and wit with which it fragments and reassembles the narrative threads, as well as the gritty b&w photography that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Producer: Gridthiya Gaweewong, Mingmongkol Sonakul. Screenwriter/Editor: Apichatpong W. Cinematographer: Prasong Klinborrom. With: Duangjai Hiransri, Kongkeirt Komsiri, Saisiri Xoomsai. 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles, 85 min.
BLISSFULLY YOURS (Sud Sanaeha) (2002) 

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

This Cannes Un Certain Regard award-winner is just as idiosyncratic and mysterious as director Apichatpong’s debut feature.  The film’s minimalist plot tracks a young Thai woman and her taciturn Burmese boyfriend, an illegal immigrant in need of a forged ID, as they venture out to the countryside for a bucolic idyll punctuated by some matter-of-fact sexual interludes.  Composed of long takes, the film is casually erotic, playful—the opening credits appear 45 minutes in—and gently ruminative.  A serene, pastoral character study not without an oblique political conscience (the devastated Thai economy and Burmese military junta lurk in the deep background), BLISSFULLY YOURS prompted film critic Tony Rayns to remark, “It is clear that something rich and strange is happening in the Thai film culture.”

Producers: Eric Chan, Charles de Meaux. Screenwriter: Apitchatpong W. Cinematographer: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Editor: Lee Chatametikool. With: Kanokporn Tongaram, Min Oo, Jenjira Jansuda, Sa-gnad Chaiyapan. 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles, 125 min.
All films screen at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall, located on the northeast corner of the UCLA campus, near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue.
Tickets are available at the theater one hour before showtime.  Admission is $7 general, $5 students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.  Kids’ Flicks general admission is $5.
NOTE:  Advance tickets for all programs are available for $8 at www.cinema.ucla.edu.
Parking is available adjacent to the James Bridges Theater in Lot 3 for $7; there is free parking on Loring Ave. after 6:00 p.m. daily. 
INFO:  www.cinema.ucla.edu / 310.206.FILM.
From Lonely Planet backpacking paradise to the Patpong nightlife, Thailand conjures up a panoply of images in the Western imagination.  On our theater screens, it has provided the exotic backdrop for both secret agent derring-do (the James Bond of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN and TOMORROW NEVER DIES) and pothead misadventure (Leonardo DiCaprio in THE BEACH).  It has repeatedly doubled as its Southeast Asian neighbors Cambodia and Vietnam in Anglo-American revisitings of Indochinese wartime traumas (THE KILLING FIELDS; GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM; CASUALTIES OF WAR).  What Thailand didn’t have until fairly recently was farang (foreign) cognizance of its indigenous cinema.
Fortunately, perceptions are changing as Bangkok has emerged as the locus of the latest Asian film renaissance to win local audiences along with critical accolades at film festivals worldwide.  This “City of Angels,” as the Thai capital is also known to its 9 million-plus denizens, is where Thailand’s film culture is centered.  The new generation of Thai filmmakers—many of whom moved to feature filmmaking from music videos and advertising, and whose exuberant intensity and fresh takes on genre have revivified well-worn commercial formulae—is concentrated in Bangkok.  Here as well are the studios and financiers behind the country’s recent moviemaking and cineplex-building boomlet.
Like the other “City of Angels” across the Pacific, Bangkok’s bustling metropolis has given its own noir bite to film depictions of its urban underbelly.  On these mean streets, even the loner anti-heroes of THE TESSERACT and BANGKOK DANGEROUS—films replete with the rapid-fire editing favored by the Bangkok-based/Hong Kong-born Oxide and Danny Pang—can’t go far without bumping up against the real-life congestion of the city.  (Witness as well the climactic traffic jam in the brothers’ tale of spirit haunting, THE EYE.)  Director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, on the other hand, gives overcrowding a whole new meaning in his drolly perverse crime caper-meets-bedroom farce, 6IXTYNIN9.
MY GIRL and BEAUTIFUL BOXER affirm contemporary Thai cinema’s tolerant view of gender difference and transgendered identity.  The former’s humorous telling of how a young boy learns how not to be a girl proved a huge hit with Thai moviegoers last year.  BEAUTIFUL BOXER meanwhile remolds the kratoey (transvestite), a popular comic figure on Thai TV and movies, into an unambiguously dramatic character.  A landmark film whose 1999 release signaled the beginning of the current renaissance, NANG NAK offers another of the country’s cinematic staples, the scary ghost story that is actually a Buddhist fable.
Finally, the widely acclaimed first and second features by Thailand’s leading independent filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul meander from the alleyways of Bangkok to the idyllic countryside bordering Burma.  MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON is a spellbinding experiment in narrative structure and form, while BLISSFULLY YOURS deftly parlays the passing of the hours one sunny afternoon into an exquisite meditation on the existential truism of our times—the dwelling across boundaries, nationalities, cultures and, yes, artistic practices.

Parking is available adjacent to the James Bridges Theater in Lot 3 for $7; there is free parking on Loring Ave. after 6:00 p.m. daily.

Cost : $8 in advance and $7 and $5 at the door.


Sponsor(s): , Film and Television Archive, Royal Thai Consulate General of Los Angeles