Thailand sees a boom in production

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The production industry in Thailand right now is quite busy. After tallying 496 productions in 2009, the country was slated to surpass that number in 2010, having reached 464 by the end of October. Not only was the first half of 2010 strong, but the second half was likely to generate foreign production revenue closer to Thailand's all-time high in 2008 of US$61.3 million. Total production value in 2009 was US$27.6 million, while more than US$49.6 million (adjusted to the 2008 value of 33 baht per U.S. dollar) was earned by Oct. 31, 2010.

A Lost Opportunity

At a party held at the residence of French Ambassador HE M. Gildas Le Lidec last November (yes, I do get out of my home/office once in a while), the Ambassador let slip that acclaimed French director/producer Luc Besson was in Thailand assisting his wife Virginie Besson-Silla, who is producer of a film entitled Dans La Lumiere filming here.

Being the naive journalist that I am, I immediately sent a request across to the production crew asking to interview Besson, which would have been a big catch. However, I was shot down, told to be quiet since Besson is a very secretive person and did not want anyone to know of his presence. Sorry to let the cat out of the bag, Luc.

A Break for Seniors
Good news in the New Year: If you are a senior citizen, now you can watch two movies on any Monday or Tuesday before five p.m. for free. Sorry, no IMAX or 3D movies.

Oh, I forgot to mention this applies only to Quezon City in the Philippines.

Thanks to Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista and the National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP), member theatres are trying to provide better services to the city's senior citizens.

NCAP theatres include the SM mall chain (Fairview, Centerpoint, North EDSA and Cubao), Trinoma, Eastwood, Gateway, Ali Mall, Waltermart and Robinsons’ Novaliches.

Icy Refreshment in Myanmar
People in Western countries have become a little too complacent in their choice of "munchies" bought from theatre concession stands. One can order anything from a no-fat latte to various brands of soft drinks and juices, not to mention candy, hot dogs, nachos and numerous flavors of popcorn.

The Southeast Asian Movie Theater Project blog reports that in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), movie patrons at the Nay Pyi Daw Cinema in Mandalay also have a unique choice of drinks: the usual bottled water form or the melted block of ice form.

The more popular, less expensive ice form uses a block of ice over a filter, which melts into plastic containers placed beneath. Once those containers are full, they are poured into metal cups sold to the customer. When the movie patron is finished drinking, the cup is returned and the process begins again.

The government-owned Nay Pyi Daw Cinema has been in operation since 1990.

Film Fest Debuts in Luang Prabang

The first so-called film festival was held in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, Dec. 4-11. Supported by the Department of Cinema (a division of the Ministry of Information and Culture), the festival presented 23 films from around Southeast Asia celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Lao PDR and Luang Prabang's 15 years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I write "so-called" film festival because, after having attended and participated in many film fests and running several here in Thailand, I have a problem with screening films straight from DVD, as the Luang Prabang Film Festival did—not just because of intellectual-property issues, but because a film festival should a combination of cultural, educational and economic activities, not simply screenings.

Luang Prabang does not have a proper movie theatre, so all films were screened outdoors at the Handicraft Market, which was set up to accommodate around 800 people.

According to the organizers, U.S.-based Open Air Cinema partnered with LPFF to be the technical producer of the main event. They provided, without cost, one of their CineBox kits (which included all the technical supplies needed to put on an outdoor film screening) and sent a technician to Laos to operate the system. A goal of their organization is to bring film to places that currently do not have adequate screening access. Open Air Cinema recently provided equipment for film screenings in Kabul, Afghanistan, Kenya and Tanzania.

Contact Scott Rosenberg at prdivision@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @scott_cos.