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Bangkok World Film Fest opened with Polanski's Oliver Twist

BANGKOK ~ The 3rd annual World Film Festival got under way in Bangkok today (Saturday 15 Oct) following Friday night’s grand opening at which Roman Polanski was guest of honour for the Asian premiere of his latest film, Oliver Twist.

The veteran director, who is no stranger to Thailand and who even speaks a smattering of Thai, introduced the film as his first attempt to produce work that will appeal to children as well as adults.
“I have children of my own and I wanted to make something which they could identify with,” Polanski told a packed house that included not only VIPs, media and hundreds of industry professionals but also a group of 40 children from a local orphanage.
Many more young Thais are expected to see Oliver when it goes on general release in Thailand on November 03. Meanwhile adult movie buffs who are fascinated by Polanski’s life are keenly anticipating the showing of some of his earlier work in a festival tribute that includes Knife in the Water, Cul de Sac, Repulsion and The Pianist.
Polanski is not the only show in town. For the next 10 days a total of 66 movies from 24 countries as well as 34 short films will be on offer in a festival that is beginning to attract international attention.
Nor is Polanski’s new film the only one to get it’s Asian premiere at this festival. Six other new works are being shown for the first time including the Italian documentary The Big Question.
Other offerings from Europe include nine from the Czech Republic, mostly New Wave, and nine from Turkey, one of which, Angel’s Fall by director Semih Kaplanoglu, has been entered in the festival competition.
Among other competition entries from Europe are: La Moustache from France, and Live Your Dream (Germany). Entries from elsewhere include Turn Left at the End of the World (Israel), One Night (Iran), Grand Voyage (Morocco), and two Latin American films, Battle in Heaven (Mexico), and Days of Santiago (Peru).
Competition entries aside there is also considerable interest here in a Jean-Pierre Jeunet retrospective. Amelie and A Very Long Engagement were well received when shown in Bangkok’s art-house cinemas and are being re-run during the festival along with The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen.
There is also a retrospective for the esoteric German producer Ulrike Ottinger. Six of her films will be shown, including the recently produced Twelve Chairs. Ottinger is attending the festival to provide commentaries.
Perhaps the greatest commentary of all, however, will come from a bunch of 11 Thai and three foreign directors each of whom has produced a short film for a special category to commemorate the Tsunami that devastated the lives of so many on December 26 last year.
Festival Director, Kriengsak Silakong, told the Tsunami Digital Short Film entries are by no means the only work from Thai directors. There are also about 20 other short films from Thai directors, and four feature films, he said.
“Although the main entries are from Europe, other leading film-producing countries and Thailand, there is a significant number of films from other countries in Asia, reflecting the growing quality of film-production in the region as a whole,” Kriengsak added.

The closing film on October 24 is The Wayward Cloud by Taiwanese director, Tsai Ming Llang who won this year’s Alfred Bauer Award, FIPRESCI Prize Competition and the Berlin Silver Bear Outstanding Artistic Achievement.

by Jeremy Colson

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