February 06, 2006


a halftime rodeo clownWisekwai has been covering the unfolding infighting in the Thai film industry for a few weeks now, and it looks like the rumble will continue indefinitely, so I thought I'd pop up here in the middle like a halftime rodeo clown to provide the Cliff Note's version of what's been going on.

Round 1 - Napakapa "Mamee" Nakprasit was nominated for a Suphannahong Award in the "Best Supporting Actress" category. Mamee was ticked that she had been nominated for "Supporting Actress" when she clearly felt she had the lead role. Five Star Entertainment, the film's production company, wrote a letter to Somsak Techratanaprasert, the head of the Federation of the National Film Association, who hold the awards. Somsak is also the head of Sahamongkol Film, a rival studio which produced HELLO YASOTHORN, TOM YUM GONG and a bunch of other high profile Thai films. The result of the letter was that the funds allocated by the Federation of the National Film Association for Five Star's travel to the Awards were canceled. Five Star then declined to participate in the Awards. Not surprisingly Mamee didn't win for "Best Supporting Actress" and the winner for "Best Actress" was Narawan Techratanaprasert for BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, PERFECT. Narawan is Somsak Techratanaprasert's 8 year old daughter.

Round 2 - the Bangkok International Film Festival, which has been criticized in the past for supposedly representing the Thai film industry while being programmed and run by a management company based in Los Angeles, and for not including Thai subtitles on many films, rendering them inaccessible to a majority of the local audience, announced its line-up this year with what looks like a heavier focus on Thai films than in previous years. However, this year the Tourism Authority of Thailand approached Thai production companies directly without going through the Federation of the National Film Association. In addition, no films were programmed for the SF Cinema City theater which is very close to the festival's main screens, and which is owned by Somsak Techaratanaprasert, head of the Federation of the National Film Association. The FNFA called for a boycott of the festival and asked local production companies as well as the Major Cineplex chain to honor their boycott. Also, on a separate note, some critics began to point out that the fact that the FNFA was did not participate in the Bangkok Film Fest in a fair manner since it was run by the head of Sahamongkol Film and accusations were made that the Film Market sidebar at the Festival, which had been organized by the National Film Association, had been heavy on the Sahamongkol Films and hadn't promoted movies from other companies as well.

Round 3 - the Bangkok International Film Festival announced that it would not hold a separate Thai Panorama as part of the festival this year, instead scattering Thai titles throughout the program. The festival would kick off with INVISIBLE WAVES, and include Five Star titles like OOPS! THERE'S DAD and ART OF THE DEVIL 2, as well as the Anglo-Thai film, GHOST OF MAE NAK, THE TIN MINE, and seven other Thai films.

Round 4 - Five Star Entertainment, RS Films and GTH resigned from the National Film Association, announcing that they couldn't support the boycott (the full details of the press conference are on ThaiCinema.org).

The big issue here is that whether it's intended or not, the dominance of Sahamongkol Film as a production company and as Thailand's biggest exhibitor is being challenged by the number 2 and number 3 companies whose profile has been growing rapidly in recent years. That the FNFA is run by the head of a major production company, and that that individual was increasingly accused of using the Bangkok Film Festival to promote his company's own films and exclude other films from other companies, made this a situation that was bound to boil over eventually. Expect further developments.

February 6, 2006 at 04:28 AM in News | Permalink


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