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Friday, June 6, 2008

Festival explores artistic side of Thai cinema


The realm of Thai cinema goes well beyond martial arts movies such as "Ong-bak" (titled "Mach!" in Japan), which was a hit here in 2004. Movie fans in Japan unfortunately rarely ever get a chance to experience much else from Thailand's vibrant film industry, which has more to offer that is surprisingly artistic, imaginative and edgy.

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Thai story: "King Naresuan," a lavish historical epic about a 16th-century ruler is one of the films on the bill at the Thai Cinema Paradise film festival, running until July 11.

Thai Cinema Paradise, the biggest-ever showing of Thai films in Japan, running until July 11, showcases the diversity of the current Thai film industry by presenting 17 films released after 2000.

The selections include Thailand's highest grossing film, "King Naresuan," a lavish historical epic that traces the life of 16th-century ruler King Naresuan the Great; "Noo Hin: The Movie," an adaptation of a popular Thai comic strip about a plucky girl from a rural village in northeastern Thailand who went to Bangkok to work for an upper-class family; "The Memory," about a romance between a superstar who loses his memory and a paparazzi; and also short animations by popular artist Wisut Ponnimit.

Others include "Citizen Dog" by Wisit Sasanatieng, whose debut feature, "Tears of the Black Tiger," was the first Thai film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The story is about a country bumpkin who comes to Bangkok in search of a better life and encounters quirky people and witnesses surreal incidents. This film was ranked one of the 10 best of 2005 by Time Magazine.

For those who seek more edgy features, there are special screenings of leading independent filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's six films, of which two ("Mysterious Object at Noon" and "Worldly Desires") will be shown with English subtitles. Winner of a jury prize and a top prize in the Un Certain Regard category at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003 and 2004, Weerasethakul is known for experimental works that explore the boundary between documentary and fiction. All of the films being shown will be subtitled in Japanese. Weerasethakul's two films, as well as "Total Bangkok" by Penek Ratanaruang will also have English subtitles.

The screenings take place at Cinemart Roppongi, 3-8-15 Roppongi, Minato-ku, a 2-minute walk from Roppongi Station (Exit 5) on the Oedo line. Tickets per screening are ¥1,800 for adults, ¥1,500 for university and high-school students and ¥1,000 for younger students and senior citizens. For the full schedule and more information, visit www.cinemart.co.jp



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