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Thai experiment wins New Currents

Thai experiment wins New Currents

By Stephen Cremin

Sat, 13 October 2012, 19:15 PM (HKT)

Festival News

The 17th Busan International Film Festival 부산국제영화제 (4-13 Oct 2012) concluded tonight with the presentation of its main awards and a screening of closing film, Mostofa Sarwar FAROOKI's Television (2012).

Nawapol THAMRONGRATTANARIT นวพล ธำรงรัตนฤทธิ์'s 36 (2012) from Thailand and Maryam Najafi's Kayan, a Lebanon-Canada co-production, shared the top prize in the festival's New Currents competition for first- and second-time Asian directors.

Thamrongrattanarit's 68-minute experimental film consists of 36 static camera shots that explores how memories are stored in the digital age. The film's protagonist is a location scout who has lost all the digital photos stored on her laptop.

The jury chose 36 in recognition of "the effort when a young enough and brave enough [director] invents his own film language", highlighting a script that was "breathtaking, artful, economic, and never included an unnecessary word."

Kayan was recognised for "the extraordinary sympathy it gives; for the versatility of the language, and the ability of the filmmaker to go from emotion to analysis in the acute portrait of a woman fighting to keep [her] new life going."

Additionally, Nitin KAKKAR's Filmistaan (2012) received a special mention because they jury "wanted to show the international film community that as viewers and critics, we are not allergic to having a simple, good time at the movies."

The jury was headed by Hungarian director Béla Tarr; his jury members were French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Canadian critic David Gilmour, Japanese director KAWASE Naomi 河瀬直美 and South Korean actor JEONG U-seong 정우성 | 鄭雨盛.

The section's audience award went to Taiwan's Touch of the Light 逆光飛翔 (2012) about the relationship between a blind pianist and a dance student. It previously won the audience award at the Taipei Film Festival 台北電影節.

The Flash Forward Award was given to Zdeněk Jiráský's family drama Flower Buds from the Czech Republic. The award, which complements the New Currents prize, is for first- and second-time non-Asian film directors.

Flash Forward jury head Arturo Ripstein said it was a unanimous decision because "it was the best"; jury members were festival director Cameron Bailey, archivist Haden Guest and fellow directors Sergei Loznitsa and BYUN Young-joo 변영주 | 變永住.

The win for 36 in the New Currents section follows the win for Royston TAN 陳子謙's 69 in the Asian Project Market. Another celebratory number at this year's edition is 221,002, the record-breaking number of admissions at this year's edition.

Admissions grew more than 10% to cross 200,000 for the first time in the event's 17-year history. Organisers credited the increased attendance to its outreach programmes to children, senior citizens and the visual- and hearing-impaired.

But the audience number clearly benefited from the festival's extended duration, running eleven days instead of ten. Next year, the festival may start one day later, on a Friday, and end on a Sunday, to maximise attendance during the second weekend.

The festival was significantly busier on the opening weekend, making it difficult for visiting guests to secure tickets for screenings. As the crowds reduced mid-week, however, securing tickets became less problematic.

The festival also announced plans to become an all-year-round online film festival, starting with the launch of new cable television channels. The Busan Cinema Center, a key festival venue, will dedicate a screen to Asian films and other foreign movies.

Festival director LEE Yong-kwan 이용관 | 李庸觀 said that South Korean audiences need to become "model consumers" of other countries' national cinemas if it is to expect and maintain a sustainable export market for its own cinema around the world.

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