Heyi Pictures and BIFF select Thai director for feature

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Asia / Pacific Roundabout

Heyi Pictures, the film division of Chinese multimedia group Youku Tudou, and the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) have chosen Thailand’s Phuttiphong Aroonpheng to direct a feature-length film as part of the 2015 “Asia’s Masters and Newcomers” Project. The project, dubbed “MN9,”, is the result of a memo of understanding signed last year between Youku Tudou and BIFF in an effort to launch a talent incubator. With production supported by Heyi Pictures, the project includes eight short movies and one feature-length film. Four of the short films will be directed by already established Asian “master” directors, the remaining four by newcomers. The masters are led by Wang Xiaoshuai from China, Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Thailand, Japan’s Naomi Kawase and Korea’s Sang-soo Im, who have partnered with the newcomers to advise and mentor them on producing their own short films.

Besides Aroonpheng, who will direct the project’s only feature-length film, the newcomers group also comprises Fatemeh Ahmadi and Asmita Shrish (both from Nepal), Han-jong Lee (Korea), and Cheng Liang (China). While the short films and the feature-length movie, whose title has not yet been released, will be screened at next year’s BIFF, which will run March 3-6, 2016, the short films will also be made available for viewing on the Youku Tudou platform. If the inaugural project proves successful, it will become an ongoing effort that is to continue in years to come.

Thailand Destination Festival Returns in 2016

The Thailand Film Office (TFO) announced that the Thailand International Film Destination Festival (TIFDF) will return in 2016 for a fourth installment.The event is the only film festival in the world dedicated to celebrating the work of local production services. All films screened during the festival must have entirely or partly been shot in Thailand.

Also returning as part of TIFDF 2016 is the Amazing Thailand Film Challenge. Selected on the basis of project submissions, young filmmakers from all over the world are invited to Thailand to make a short film in seven days in different regions of the country. Selected competitors are provided with flights, accommodation, local support and a modest budget.

TFO’s director Ubolwan Sucharitakul explained the value of the festival: “The festival has a number of aims. First and foremost, it promotes Thailand as a film destination, but through the [public] film screenings [during the festival] we also showcase the high level of [professional] skill and production value that can be found in Thailand. In past years, the festival has successfully explored the diversity of productions which benefit from shooting in Thailand. The program has included both commercial and art-house films from many different countries, and we have been fortunate that many of the international directors and stars have returned to Thailand to screen their films [during previous festivals] and to be reunited with the teams that helped realize their visions. Feedback forms last year showed an audience satisfaction rating of over 98 percent. We look forward to an exciting and inspiring film program in 2016.”

With regards to the tied-in Amazing Thailand Film Challenge, Ubolwan said: “Through the Amazing Thailand Film Challenge we explore how the different regions of Thailand offer a diversity of locations, cultures and creative inspiration. The film students of today are tomorrow's filmmakers. We are extremely proud of the Amazing Thailand Film Challenge. I do not believe there is any [other] short film competition in the world that offers young filmmakers such an exciting, inspirational and memorable experience. Last year, 72 young filmmakers from 15 countries were selected for the competition. There was a very high level of quality in the films produced in the challenge, and we hope that these films are not only a great showcase of Thailand's locations and rich culture, but also a valuable part of the [respective] filmmakers' portfolios.”

Ubolwan went on to say that 2016 is going to be an important year for the TFO, as it expects a record number of incoming foreign productions to be filmed in the country. Furthermore, the office will also begin preparations for the launch of Thailand's very first film production incentive program, which is expected to be introduced in 2017 and is to primarily benefit foreign filmmakers.

Daily Taiwan B.O. Data Releases Resume

After a standoff lasting several months, it appears that a dispute between the Taipei Film Trade Association–which represents film distributors in Taiwan–and the Taipei Theater Association–representing exhibitors–has been resolved. The dispute had led to the indefinite suspension in mid-August by the Theater Association of daily box-office results reporting to the Film Trade Association. Before the standoff ensued, the former had suggested in media interviews that the latter had unfairly profited from its supplied box-office data. The distributors’ organization had previously charged its members an annual fee for delivering box-office data, although it had received them for free, the exhibitors’ association had argued. The reporting of daily box-office data by the Theater Association has now resumed, supposedly after the Film Trade Association agreed to secure a government subsidy next year to cover its cost for redistributing the figures to its members free of charge.

For inquiries and feedback, contact Thomas Schmid at thomas.schmid@filmjournal.com.