The Ministry of Culture, in partnership with The National Federation of Motion Pictures and Contents Association, will hosts the 4th edition of “Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival 2018”. This will be held in part to celebrate the 51st anniversary of the founding of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The festival this year will take place between Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th July 2018 at SF World Cinema, CentralWorld. It will showcase 13 acclaimed titles from seven countries in the region, with 10 films in the Competition and three classic titles. Admission is free.
The opening film is EULLENIA, directed by Bangkok-based Paul Spurrier and starring veteran Thai actor Vitthaya Pansringarm. The story focuses on a man called Marcus Hammond, founder of Eullenia, a powerful finance company specializing in giving out micro-loans to low-earning people in Southeast Asia. Hammond runs a successful business and becomes a billionaire, but he has a dark secret, a self-destructive desire that threatens to put an end to his empire. With all the money he has made, Hammond doesn’t want a private jet, or a yacht, or a gaggle of supermodels: what he wants is something else much more inexplicable. EULLENIA will screen on the gala opening on July 4 at SF World Cinema, CentralWorld.
To promote the strength of Southeast Asian filmmakers, the Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival 2018 selects 10 prominent title into the Competition section. These titles will vie for two awards: Best ASEAN Film, which will come with a trophy and $10,000 cash prize; and Jury Prize, which will reward a trophy and $5,000.
The panel of jury is made up of respected figures in the international film community. Yoshi Yatabe is head of programming of Tokyo International Film festival. Kiki Fung is a programmer for Hong Kong International Film Festival. Prawit TaengAksorn is a Thai film lecturer, critic and board members of the Thai Film Archive.
The films in the Competition include:
NERVOUS TRANSLATION from the Philippines. This is an acclaimed drama that has won several awards since the beginning of this year. Set in 1988, near the end of the dictatorial rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, the film focuses on the life of eight-year-old Yael, an extremely shy girl who lives in her own private world. She spends time alone when her mother goes off to work in a shoe factory. In the evening her mother watches soap opera on TV, and the girl pulls white hair from her mom’s head, earning 25 centavos for a strand. Yael knows her father only from his voice, recorded and sent back to her mother from Saudi Arabia, where he’s gone to work. One day, she accidentally records her own voice over the tape – then she discovers something that helps “translate” thoughts of nervous people.
GUANG, from Malaysia, is a drama about two brothers. The elder is autistic and has difficulties living in society. His younger brother tries to help him find a job, but it’s impossible to convince employers. The younger brother is frustrated and hopeless, when one day he hears the sound of music from his brother’s room. Behind the door, the autistic brother reveals his great talent as a musician. What are the brothers going to do next?
IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC is a Cambodian drama told in the span of three decades. The film is a testament to love, war, and family relationship through different generations and through the song Champa of Battambang, a classic tune by Sinn Sisamuth. The lives of people in the film confront drastic changes with the passing decades, and with the arrival of the Khmer Rouge.
NIGHT BUS is a thriller from Indonesia. A group of villagers are on a night bus to Sampah, a remote town where the military is fighting a separatist movement. Each passenger has his own purpose in visiting the troubled town, but they don’t realize that among them is a person who’s coming with the intention to end the conflict. His presence now puts everyone in danger, because both the military and the insurgents want him either alive or dead.
SHUTTLE LIFE is a Malaysia drama that won three awards (Best Film, Best Actor and Best Cinematographer) at Shanghai International Film Festival 2017. The film tells the story of Ah Qiang, a poor teenage boy who lives with his sick mother (Sylvia Chang) and his five-year-old sister in a small apartment. When Ah Qiang’s sister is in an accident, he realizes the agony of the underprivileged class and has to fight tooth and nail with the hospital and the bureaucracy to maintain his sister’s rights and dignity.
THE ASHES AND GHOSTS OF TAYUG 1931 is a Filipino historical drama. This black-and-white film tells the story of a filmmaker who travel to the town of Tayug, in Pangasinan, to research the story of Pedro Calosa, a local hero and central figure in the Uprising of 1931. As the filmmaker enters the town with a turbulent past, she keeps thinking about scenes in her new film, and soon her research takes her into the memories of the townspeople.
PASSAGE OF LIFE is a Myanmar-Japan coproduction. This is a drama about a Myanmar family who live in Japan. Their two sons can’t speak Burmese and grow up like typical Japanese children. The mother longs to go back to Myanmar, but the father is unable to leave his job. One day, they receive a letter that will change their lives forever.
THE SEEN AND UNSEEN is an Indonesia-Netherlands-Australia-Qatar co-production. This magical story concerns Tantri, a 10-year-old girl who’s spending the final moments with Tantra, her boy twin. Tantra’s brain is weakening and he’s losing consciousness. But at a rural hospital, Tantri slips into the gap between dream and wakefulness, where her twin has woken up and they play together under the moonlight. The twins’ journey through the night strengthens the bond between them, and also between reality and imagination, between hope and despair.
THEIR REMAINING JOURNEY is a Singapore-USA-Taiwan co-production. The spirit of a dead actor is trapped in a stranger’s family as she waits for reincarnation. As a ghost, she watches the lives of the people around her and reflects on the loss suffered by her own family.
THE WALL is the only Thai film in the competition. Directed by Boonsong Nakphoo, the film, which mixes documentary with fiction, tells the story of a film director who experiences a rollercoaster of emotions, dreams, and secrets while scouting for location. Boonsong the director plays the director in the film; his son plays him as a child and his mother plays his mother.
Besides the 10 films in the Competition, the festival also celebrates the film heritage of ASEAN by showing three classic films: Kakabakaba Ka Ba?, a 1980 film by Filipino director Mike De Leon. MeePok Man, a 1986 film by Singaporean director Eric Khoo. Sawan Mued (Dark Heaven), a 1965 Thai drama by director R.D. Pestonji.
Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival 2018 will take place from July 5 to 8 at SF World Cinema, CentralWorld. Admission is free. Registration opens on July 1 at www.facebook.com/BangkokAseanFilmFestival (strictly one ticket for one person) and you can can pick up the tickets 30 minutes before each show time at the cinema. For more information call 02-643-9100 or visit www.facebook.com/BangkokAseanFilmFestival