Two much-anticipated Thai independent titles from the festival circuit, How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) and The Blue Hour, will have their local premiere in a brand new event, the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which will run from June 5 to 14 at the Esplanade Ratchada.
The fest, which seems overdue for Bangkok, is being organized by the Thai edition of Attitude magazine. Details are still coming together, but a crowd-pleasing film line-up was recently revealed by the festival’s programmer, John Badalu, a Bangkok-based film pro who is a delegate to the Shanghai International Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. He also founded Indonesia’s long-running Q! Film Festival.
So it seems natural that the two gay-themed Thai dramas that both world premiered at Berlinale would bookend this new festival in Bangkok.
The opener will be How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), a drama directed by Josh Kim, with a multi-national team of producers that includes Anocha Suwichakornpong. Adapted from the short-story collection Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, the tale centers on 11-year-old Oat, an orphan boy who is raised by his aunt and his openly gay older brother Ek, and also deals with Ek’s concerns about the annual military draft lottery and whether he’ll have to join army. There’s a review at Variety if you must know more.
Bringing the curtain down on the festival will be The Blue Hour (อนธการ, Onthakan) by Anucha Boonyawatana. It deals with Tam, a loner, bullied gay boy who arranges to meet a stranger for a hookup at an abandoned swimming pool. Friendship follows, but it leads to very dark places. The Hollywood Reporter has a review, but I kind wish I hadn’t read it.
Aside from the two Thai entries, the program favors Southeast Asian films, among them The Sun, the Moon, and the Hurricane, the debut feature by Jakarta-based Andri Cung, which tracks three periods in the life of a young man, and is set in Jakarta and Bangkok.
Also of regional interest is Finding Phong, a documentary and drama about the struggles of a young Vietnamese transgender person. It’s directed by Swann Dubus and Phuong Thao Tran, the same pair that did With or Without Me, the documentary about drug-addicted HIV-positive men.
The Philippines has a trio, among them a 2014 Berlinale entry, Quick Change by Eduardo Roy Jr. It’s been described as «documentary-like» drama about Manila’s transgender community and the risks they take to stay beautiful. Also from the Philippines is The Commitment (Kasal) by Joselito Altarejos and I Love You. Thank You by Charliebebs Gohetia.
And a very intriguing title is another Berlinale entry from this year, the very trippy looking Eisenstein in Guanajuato by Peter Greenaway, covering that weird time when Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein ended up making a movie in Mexico following an abortive attempt to get into Hollywood.
Here’s the line-up:
- How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) by Josh Kim
- The Blue Hour by Anucha Boonyawatana
- 54: Director’s Cut by Mark Christopher
- Eisenstein in Guanajuato by Peter Greenaway
- Nude Area by Urszula Antoniak
- Summer by Colette Bothof
- Quick Change by Eduardo Roy Jr
- The Sun, the Moon and the Hurricane by Andri Cung
- The Commitment by Joselito Altarejos
- Soft Lad by Leon Lopez
- I Love You. Thank You by Charliebebs Gohetia
- The Night by Zhou Hao
- Finding Phong by Swann Dubus and Phuong Thao Tran
- My Fair Wedding by Jang Hee Sun
- Futuro Beach by Karim Ainouz
As I said up top, there are still details to hash out – the schedule, how to book seats, etc. Don’t freak out. For now you can check in at a Facebook events page and hopefully be updated when new information emerges.