BANGKOK, Thailand— In this country ravaged, in some parts, by the horrifying tsunami, life goes on.
The people’s persevering effort to rise up from the tragedy was witnessed by the whole world when they successfully mounted a grander, more dramatic and bigger Bangkok International Film Festival at the different theaters all around downtown Bangkok from Jan. 13-24.
It brought worldwide attention to the Thai film market where festival director American Craig Prater gathered top–caliber Hollywood films like “Hotel Rwanda,” “Ray” “2046,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Elektra,” “The Sound of Music.”
Adding glitter to the festival is the Career Achievement Award given to Hollywood director Joel Schumacher who was pleasantly surprised by colleague and close friend Michael Douglas with his presence in Bangkok three days before the festival concluded.
Other Hollywood stars who participated in the Bangkok Filmfest were Gerard Butler and Miranda Richardson (stars of “Phantom of the Opera,” Schumacher’s latest film which premiered here), and Jeremy Irons who accepted the Best Actress awards for Annette Benning (“Being Julia”) at the Golden Kinnaree Awards.
The celebration was especially meaningful after the tsunami tragedy. Even the celebrities who went there shared deep thoughts about Bangkok. For one, Miranda Richardson admitted the initial excitement of being there was replaced with sadness. “Seeing what has happened over the news made me think about what I would still find here. How will people face us after a tragedy like that? How will they pick up the pieces? And seeing you all now who still made it here to welcome us in this festival brings such a positive feeling to us all,” said Richardson.
Save for the fact that most of the proceeds from the festival would go to the fund drive for Tsunami victims, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association also gave monetary support to Thai people.
“If there’s any good to what happened it’s really seeing everybody show compassion for the victims of Tsunami,” commented Butler, who plays the Phantom in the musical. “It’s moving to note how people rise up from a tragedy as big as what happened,” he added.
Among the films featured at the festival, “The Shutter,” an intense and well–applauded horror flick gained international attention the most. Those who’ve seen the film said it could give “The Ring” and the rest of its lot a run for its money. “The Shutter,” directed by Parkpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun, is Thailand’s biggest box–office of 2004. We do hope that it’s going to be released in Manila sometime soon.
Clinching major awards at the Golden Kinnaree night was the Spanish film “The Sea Inside” starring Best Actor winner Javier Bardem. Our very own local films “Crying Ladies,” “Homecoming,” “Woman of Breakwater (“Babae sa Breakwater”), “Keka” and “Imelda” were screened and nominated at the Kinnaree Awards.