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Thai Film Festival - 'Bangkok: Cinema City' - BEAUTIFUL BOXER & NANG NAK

Thai Film Festival - 'Bangkok: Cinema City' - BEAUTIFUL BOXER & NANG NAK

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

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
7:30 PM - 11:00 PM
James Bridges Theater
Melnitz Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Tuesday, June 8
Los Angeles Premiere

Directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham

Based on an amazing true story, this absorbing and heartfelt film follows a young kickboxer who rises to the top of his sport in order to pay for a sex-change operation—his own.  BEAUTIFUL BOXER inventively brings together the conventions of the sports movie and the coming-out story as exciting kickboxing sequences alternate with vignettes from the athlete’s life.  Thai tolerance towards transsexuality has led to a string of films with transgendered protagonists, with IRON LADIES (also a sports film based on a true story) the best-known example in this country.  Unlike many of these films, the hero here is not a comic figure but an inspiring individual.

Producer: Ekachai U. Screenwriters: Ekachai U., Desmond Sim Kim Jin. Cinematographer: Choochart Nantitanyatada. Editor: Dusanee Puinongpho. With: Asanee Suwan, Sorapong Chatree, Orn-Anong Panyawong, Kyoko Inoue. 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles, 116 min.
NANG NAK (1999) 

Directed by Nonzee Nimibutr

A TITANIC-sized hit in Thailand and a critical success abroad, NANG NAK breathes new life into a haunting Thai folktale about undying love.  After recovering from the brink of death, Mak returns home from war to be greeted by his wife Nak and their newborn son—only something isn’t right.  Evoking the ethereal beauty of rural Thailand, director Nonzee builds a mounting sense of unease and danger as Mak comes to realize what the audience already knows: his wife and child died months before.  An epic romance by way of a chilling ghost story, NANG NAK was hailed by Tony Rayns as “a landmark of Southeast Asian cinema.”  The same production team went on to make the delirious homage to the Spaghetti Western, TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (2001).

Producers: Visute Poolvoralaks, Chanajai Tonsaithong. Screenwriter: Wisit Sasanatieng. Cinematographer: Nattawut Kitikun. Editor: Sunji Asavinikul. With: Intira Jaroenpura, Winai Kraibutr, Pramote Suksatit, Pracha Thawongfia. 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles, 100 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; $7 & $5 at the door


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