Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 2 is to close the second edition of the Bangkok International Film Festival, held between Jan 22 - Feb 2 next year. The event, which will screen around 150 films, opens with a screening of Thai title Renaissance.
Organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the festival is seen as a way of promoting Thailand's qualities as a film-making hub for international producers.
A three-day Bangkok Film Market will also make its debut during the festival, held Jan 27-29 at the city's Shangri-La Hotel. Companies participating, according to organisers, include Arclight, Artisan, Capitol Films, First Look Media, Nikkatsu, Scanbox and UGC.
The festival's competition selection includes 12 titles, voted on by an international jury that includes director Bruce Beresford, Franchise Pictures' Elie Samaha, Michele Maheux, managing director of the Toronto International Film Festival Group and producer Rafaella De Laurentiis. Golden Kinnaree awards are given in four categories - best picture, best actor and actress, and best director.
The festival is also introducing a new competitive ASEAN Panorama programme. Films from 10 countries - including Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, the Phillipines, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia - will be judged by members of FIPRESCI for a Best ASEAN Film award.
In addition, a Cinematographer's Day will be held on Jan 29, with a tribute to Christopher Doyle and the screening of Hero, In The Mood For Love, Last Life In The Universe and Three.
Two programmes exploring Thai film-making will also be held. The first - Thai in Review - will screen seven or eight of the most popular Thai films of the past year that have not been released internationally, while the second is a retrospective of Thai documentaries including Hara Factory Workers (1976) and Mysterious Object At Noon (1999).
Representatives from the tourism authority that runs the festival met with UK producers and press on Wednesday (Nov 26) to brief them on the festival and Thailand as a location.
Film production in Thailand from overseas companies has rocketed in recent years. In 1998 there were 291 foreign shoots in Thailand, rising to 743 this year. In 2002, film production was worth 1.4bn baht to Thailand.
Foreign films to have shot in the territory over the past year, or to shoot there soon, include Walden Media's Around The World In 80 Days, Oliver Stone's Alexander and Working Title's Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason.
The Thai government is keen to attract even more foreign production, and will hold a moratorium with the film industry in December, to discuss how best it can support producers. Already it has cut the income tax rate for foreign performers - which previously could be as high as 37% - to a flat rate of 10% and the Thai Film Board has cut the amount of time it takes to approve feature film permits to 14 days.
Other proposals include a waiver on import tax for filming equipment, taxation agreements, and access to protected national parks, historical sites and temples.