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Inaugural Phuket Film Festival Rocks to Close

Inaugural Phuket Film Festival Rocks to Close with 'Across The Universe'

The Phuket Film Festival (PFF) ended its week long inaugural run Saturday with Julie Taymor's 'Across The Universe.' The closing movie, from Sony Pictures Entertainment, which utilizes live action plus animation and psychedelic digital effects was a fitting end to the pre-tsunami 2004 conceived international film festival.

Screening 40 movies from 15 different countries and hosting film-makers from 16 of its productions, PFF kicked off October 20 with a lavish, Thai star studded opening that even had a Bangkok based Tourism Authority of Thailand official saying, jokingly: "Maybe we should move the Bangkok International Film Festival to Phuket!"

Organisers blamed the weather and the fact that tickets went on sale late for a low turnout by movie buffs. "Theater crowds were smaller than I expected for PFF but whether tickets going on sale late or the monsoon rains that plagued the island the week of the Festival could be blamed, it did not seem to matter for those that turned out for the movie screenings, workshops and parties," said festival director, Mr Scott Rosenberg.

However some locals said that poor promotion and the venue, next door to the seediest part of Phuket's infamous sex industry, was the real reason why locals didn't show up in bigger numbers.

" In the first place I didn't see any promotion of the festival around the island, and secondly, those of us who did know of it would not be seen dead anywhere near Patong," one local told fest21, requesting anonymity. He added that if the festival is held again "it should take place in or near Phuket Town".

But many of those who did attend PFF found it to be worthwhile."Talking directly to producers and actors was a treat one often does not get at Festivals," said Jim Donohue visiting Phuket from California.

"A big thanks to the Festival for showing independent movies that would ordinarily not be shown on Phuket – and for having movies premiere here ('Surf's Up' and 'Across The Universe') before Bangkok," said Columbian expat Lina Zapata who has lived on Phuket for several years.

The Festival also featured a workshop entitled "Preserving the Past, Future and Present on Film" at which UNESCO presented HE Mrs. Si-Arun Khaisi, the Thai Minister of Culture the Fellini Silver Medal for preservation and restoration work done by the National Film Archives of Thailand.

A festival jury was not in place this first year of PFF but a People's Choice Awards was held. Winner of the Award for best picture went to US production 'Tomorrow is Today'; best director went to James Franco ('Good Time Max'), best actor to Mark Hefti ('Tomorrow is Today') and best actress to Jacklyn Jose ('Sarong Banggi).

Asked if the festival had been sufficiently successful to turn it into an annual event, Scott Rosenberg said "It was great fun and thanks have to go out to all our partners for help in making PFF 2007 happen, but whether it will happen again next year? I hope so, but at this point I really do not know."
Jeremy Colson


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