Exciting Films from Thailand with English subtitles, Friday, June 4 - Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Friday, June 4
West Coast Premiere
MY GIRL (Fan Chan) (2003)
Directed by Komgrit Threewimol, Songyos Sugmakanan, Nithiwat Tharatorn, Vijja Kojew, Vithaya Thongyuyong, Adisorn Tresirikasem
Six directors—film school friends from Chulalongkorn University—collaborated to make this engaging tale of puppy love and gender difference that was a box-office smash in Thailand. Best friends since infancy, Jeap and Noinah run into pre-teen trouble when Jeap finds himself embarrassed to be seen playing house with the girls while the neighborhood boys are out racing bikes, kicking soccer balls and furiously kung fu-fighting. Bookended by a twentysomething Jeap preparing to attend Noinah’s wedding, the film is sweet but never treacly. The young actors are allowed to be natural—eloquently awkward when emotions run high, full of goofy bluster when playing—and the directors observe their stories in keen and funny detail. A bubblegum Thai song acts as the madeleine that sets Jeap’s memory in motion, and the clever integration of Thai pop throughout imbues the film with the easy charm and catchiness of a John Hughes favorite.
Producers: Jira Maligool, Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, Prasert Wiwattananonpong. Screenwriters: Aumaraporn Paindinthong, Komgrit T., Songyos S., Nithiwat T., Vijja K., Vithaya T. Cinematographer: Songyos S. Editor: Nithiwat T. With: Chalee Triart, Chawin Chitsomboon, Focus Jeerakul, Wongsakorn Rasameetat. 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles, 111 min.
*Audience Q & A with producer Prasert Wiwattananonpong!
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.
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.
Cost: Advance tickets are $8. They are $7 and $5 (students) at the door if available.
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.
Sponsor(s): Film and Television Archive, Royal Thai Consulate General of Los Angeles