Gay Night with Thai movies, Oliver Stone’s Alexander at Stockholm Int’l Film Fest

During the darkest period of the year in Sweden it is usually time for the film freaks to seek the dark movie theatre to find the warmth and light. Again this year it is time for a marathon film event – the Stockholm 15th International Film Festival that takes place on 18 – 28 November 2004, with Woddy Allen’s new Melinda & Melinda as its opening film.
     And on a late Friday 26 November night, starting 23.30 p.m., it is time for the Gay Night for Boys special section, showing two Thai films out of three throughout the night.
     Also one major highlight is Oliver Stone, this year’s guest of honour, whose new movie Alexander, filmed on location in Thailand, will have its European première on 25 November in Stockholm.
     The by now established, and among the audience very popular and internationally competitive Swedish film festival will follow up on last year’s special Thai section with three films from Thailand, further acknowledging that its films is receiving acclaim abroad.
     Unlike Bangkok’s film festivals, Stockholm shows movies from early in the mornings until late in the nights and the audience gets at least a couple of opportunities to actually have time to see each choice among the 170 on offer.
     Baytong by Thailand’s commercially most successful director, Nonzee Nimibutr will for example be shown three times. Relating to the currently hot topic of terrorism, this story is about the monk Tum who when his sister dies in a terrorist attack leaves the monastery to take care of his niece. She on the contrary teaches him about life outside.
     And as part of the Gay Night, Thailand is represented by Beautiful Boxer and The Adventure of Iron Pussy.
     Beautiful Boxer is also part of the Asian Images section along with Baytong and other films such as 20 Fingers, A Day on the Planet, Breaking News, Formula 17, Hard Luck Hero and Internal Affairs 3.
     Ekachai Uekrongtham’s ‘lady boy’ sports movie is also about a monk and based on a true story about a Buddhist novice that became a kick boxing professional to provide for his family and financing the change of his sex. “A masterpiece,” writes the Stockholm International Film festival.
     Finally there is the exciting title The Adventure of Iron Pussy, rejected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Bangkok International Film Festival earlier this year on the grounds that it was shot in a digital format and therefore wasn’t a “film”, giving one the sense that the movie was not politically correct.
     This has not stopped its co-director and experimental, abstract and eccentric film-maker Apichatpong Weerasethakul from having received almost unprecedented attention abroad during the last years. And this despite or perhaps thanks to that he has thrown the conventional rules out of the window.
     Iron Pussy which was made last year has been touring film festivals from Tokyo to Berlin and made the rounds at Gay film festivals. Apichatpong’s non-commercial and for most viewers’ impenetrable films Tropical Maladay and Blissfully Yours won a jury award this year (on top of being the first Thai film ever in competition) and became the first Thai movie to receive the Un Certain Regard (A different look) award last year at the Cannes Film Festival respectively.
     No matter what people thinks about his movies he has genuinely shaken them and the Thai film business to the core, guaranteeing a global buzz for the future.
     The Thai newspaper The Nation writes about Apichatpong that he has managed to bore and even infuriate his Thai audience while at the same time stunning the Cannes Jury. “No army of elephants, no extravagant sets, no fancy camera movements or quick editing, no complex plots, no twist endings, no sarcasm and, perhaps the best part of Apichatphong’s films – no message. Not only was this plate of plain rice with a dash of fish sauce served on the same table as international gourmet dishes, but it received praise for being what it is.”
     The plot in his old genre Thai-style film selected for Stockholm is of the kind one can imagine from its title. The Iron Pussy character can best be described as a hybrid of Modesty Blaise, Indiana Jones and Julie Andrews, writes the Stockholm film festival program, and is a transvestite acting as a secret agent for the Thai government.
     To celebrate its 15 years anniversary the film festival in Stockholm will also present a selection of the great movies shown during those years in a retrospective.

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