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Bangkok Film Festival going ahead

News that the Bangkok International Film Festival (BIFF) will indeed be run again this year was greeted enthusiastically by film-buffs in Thailand yesterday (Tuesday 29 July 2008), following months of indecision on the part of the owners of the event.

The budget will be smaller, a lot smaller than at its peak two years go, but that isn't worrying aficionados who simply want to get to see the best of the latest indie feature films from the region and elsewhere around the world.

BIFF will run from September 23 to 30, and will screen at SF World in the Central World Plaza, as it was last year. Central World is right in the heart of downtown Bangkok and is one of the biggest shopping malls in Asia, if not the world.

This year's festival should benefit through the participation of the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand (FNFAT) which promises to provide the influence of real movie-makers to counterbalance the commercial influence of their partners in this year's festival, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

That said, the festival simply wouldn't be happening if it were not for TAT's input of THB25 million (US$750,000) as seed money to get BIFF moving. Reluctance on the part of certain government officials to give a budget to TAT to run the festival again this year was the main reason for the delay in confirming the dates for BIFF until this week.

TAT deputy governor Mrs. Junhaporn Rerngronasa was keen to stress the change in approach and organisation this year.

"It is the first time that the festival has been organized by co-operation and collaboration between ourselves and National Film Association..... It is a great opportunity for Thailand to support the film industry and establish a position as the cultural and entertainment hub of the region." she told reporters.

Her counterpart, the FNFAT president, Mr. Jareuk Kaljareuk, who is the also the festival director, said that for the first time the emphasis is on films and filmmakers from the ASEAN region.

"As the film industries of the region develop and strengthen, Thailand has an important role to play in this growing film culture. New technologies present new opportunities for filmmakers to present their visions," said Jareuk, adding that one of the challenges is how to accept international techniques and influences and to achieve success in the global marketplace without losing the unique cultural voice and identity of the region.

The Thai Film Directors' Association has selected and will co-ordinate the program of over 70 films in this year's festival. The association represents some of the brightest creative minds in the Thai film industry.

The Thai film industry has developed enormously in recent years. Thai filmmakers now achieve international recognition, and Thailand can offer world-class skills and facilities to international productions.

At the same time, domestic audiences now see a wider range of international films than ever before. BIFF is being considered as a chance to show the industry's appreciation to Thai filmmakers, to welcome and attract international productions, and to present new visions to local audiences.

Jeremy Colson


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