Limitless Cinema in Broken English

January 27, 2010

WHY I WORSHIP THE THAI SHORT FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 2:08 pm

This is my comment in INDIAN AUTEURS’ website:
http://www.indianauteur.com/?p=976

There is a Thai magazine called FUSE SHOWCASE which publishes the interviews of a lot of Thai short filmmakers, and the magazine comes together with a DVD of a few Thai short films. However, this magazine is released once every six months or so. There have been only four issues of FUSE SHOWCASE so far.

There was also FUSE magazine, which belonged to same company as FUSE SHOWCASE. FUSE was devoted to Thai short filmmakers. The columns in FUSE are about the interviews of Thai short filmmakers, the reviews on Thai short films, the latest interesting clips on Youtube, how to make films, how to send films to film festivals abroad, which cameras to buy, which notebooks to buy, how to create music using digital technology, how to make fake scars on the actors, how to make sound effects, etc. Unfortunately, this monthly magazine only released 31 issues. It has now ceased to be a print magazine and become an online magazine. Its website is at http://www.fuse.in.th/ .

Both FUSE and FUSE SHOWCASE belongs to the same company as BIOSCOPE magazine, a monthly magazine which has released 98 issues so far. However, BIOSCOPE magazine focuses more on cinephile-readers than filmmaker-readers. The columns in BIOSCOPE are about arthouse films. BIOSCOPE magazine also produces some documentaries.

As a cinéphile who loves seeing Thai short films, I owe the biggest thank to Thai Film Foundation, who has organized the Thai Short Film and Video Festival each year since 1997. The greatest thing about this festival is that it shows every Thai film submitted to it, no matter whether the film is short or long, good or bad. This fact makes this festival very different from most festivals which show only “selected” films, not all submitted films.

By showing all submitted Thai films, the organizers of this festival must be very tired each year, but they still keep on doing it. Last year they showed about 526 submitted Thai films. The screening of these films took place 6 days a week, 3 hours on Tuesday-Friday, 9 hours on Saturday and Sunday. I really respect them for their enormous effort in holding this festival, which I consider a heavenly space for Thai independent filmmakers and Thai cinéphiles.

By showing all submitted Thai films, I think this festival has given a space for Thai cinéphiles who don’t like to be dictated which films they should or should not see. This festival also gives a space for Thai filmmakers who don’t care for film jury, film awarders, or film selectors. This is a space for filmmakers who don’t care for any aesthetic rules, a space for filmmakers want to be true to their vision, true to their feelings, true to what they really want to say, true to what they really want to make. If the film festival shows only selected films, many Thai filmmakers will not dare to make the films they really want to make. They will try to make only the films which will satisfy the film selectors, so that their films will be selected and will be shown. Their vision will be compromised.

This film festival is divided into two parts. The first part is called Marathon, and it’s the one which shows all submitted Thai films. The second part is the showing of the selected films for the competitions, foreign films, and some special films. Last year about 70 Thai films from 526 submitted films were selected to enter into the competitions.

I enjoy seeing the submitted films in the Marathon part very much, much more than seeing the selected films in the competition part. There are some bad films in the Marathon part, but most of these bad short films are much more tolerable than bad Thai mainstream films or bad Hollywood films.

In the age of Youtube, one can argue that short filmmakers don’t have to rely on film festivals any more. Youtube also gives them freedom to show the films which are true to their vision to the whole wide world. But in my own opinion as a cinéphile, I find that going to see 200-300 short films in the festival in a month is a much more rewarding experience than watching them in Youtube. I just don’t have the time to watch Youtube every day or to read some Thai film webboards to find out who has uploaded his/her latest films onto Youtube. This festival is a much more convenient way for me to see these films.

I don’t know if there is a film festival like this elsewhere or not, the one which shows all the submitted films, not only the selected ones. If there is a film festival like this elsewhere, I think it will help a lot in encouraging new filmmakers to dare to make films in their own styles, to dare to experiment something new, to dare to make films to please himself/herself first, instead of trying to make films to win the mass audience or the film jury first. And when their films are shown in the festivals, they might get some feedbacks from film bloggers, from commenters in film webboards, or from other directors who have a chance to see their films. They will know how to improve their filmmaking skills, instead of knowing only that their films are not selected. They will know that these or those directors like their films very much, and they will become friends and will help each other in the future.

If you love your grandmother very much, and want to make a film about your grandmother’s activities, you can do it, and it will be shown in this kind of film festivals. If you secretly love a friend, you can make a documentary about it, and it will also be shown in the festival. If you are a little bit obsessed with sex, you can also make a film to satisfy this part of yours, and it will also be shown in the festival (in case the film is not against the law). If you hate some political groups very much, you can also make a film about it, and it will be shown. If you want to make a film which pleases your subconscious, you can do it, and it will be shown in the festival. You don’t have to care at all whether other people can understand it or appreciate it or not. By having this kind of film festivals, filmmakers will be free from so-called aestheic rules and wont’ be too nervous while making films. This kind of film festivals will help them dare to make the first step and let them grow in their own ways.

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