The Thai government's support for the local industry is focused on the annual international festival (July 19-29). Silvia Wong reports
Backed by a dynamic TV commercial and post-production sector that services the international industry, Thailand has developed a vibrant film business that produces nearly 40 films a year. Most are made for local audiences, capturing a healthy 36% market share.
Thai films are mostly self-financed, except for a handful of international co-productions such as Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Invisible Waves, a co-production between Thailand, Netherlands, Hong Kong and South Korea, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes And A Century, which received some funding from the city of Vienna to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.
While little financial support is forthcoming from the government, each year the government-funded Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reserves its biggest splash for the Bangkok International Film Festival (Bkkiff). Despite a high-profile launch with top international stars five years ago, the event still faces a number of difficulties, particularly the criticism that it is too star-heavy and programming-light.
While a much smaller scale is expected this year as a result of the military coup, which has forced a tightening of belts across all sectors, Bkkiff is starting with a clean slate following the departure of the US management company Film Festival Management.
The new Thai programming team led by Kriengsak 'Victor' Silakong has chosen to focus on Asian cinema. New Thai films set to receive their world premiere include Muay Thai Chaiya, which will close the festival and Asean competition title Bangkok Time.
Major Thai producers-distributors, such as Five Star, GTH, Mono Film, RS Film and Sahamongkolfilm are expected to attend the Bangkok Film Market.