Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope Woodworth’s Altiplano, a hyperstylised environmental drama set in a Peruvian village, won the Grand Prix at this year’s Bangkok International Film Festival (BKKIFF).
Chinese film The Search won the Special Jury Prize, and the crowd-pleasing I Killed My Mother was honoured with a Special Mention.
Despite the recent bribery scandal involving a former US contractor, the festival ploughed ahead and found a firm footing in its 2009 edition, which wrapped on September 30.
Without a market, the festival may not maximise Thailand’s potential as a hub of filmmaking activities, but as an audience festival and South-East Asia’s leading event, it has rebounded with a dose of confidence.
In the South-East Asian competition, the top prize went to Independencia, by Filipino filmmaker Raya Martin. The Thai film Nymph, by Pen-ek Ratanaruang, won the Special Jury Prize, while Call If You Need Me from Malaysia and Imburnal from the Philippines won a Special Mention.
The festival was hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which is still reeling in the corruption scandal involving one of its former governors who allegedly awarded an overpriced contract to Gerald and Patricia Green to organise the BKKIFF from 2003 to 2006.
In the past two years, the fest was managed by Federation of National Film Associations and Thai Film Directors’ Association, to a more sensible result and with a genuine concern for the local audience. The budget was reportedly around $1.2m, significantly lower than the $5.7m price tag when the Americans were in charge.
The seven-day festival generated a fairly enthusiastic reception from the audience, and the programme included such controversial arthouse titles as Antichrist and Dogtooth.
However, the direction the festival is aiming for is to become a hub of the South-East Asian film community by championing independent works by directors from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.