Filmmakers Information Center—Searching for New Contexts
Roundtable: Filmmakers’ coops in Japan and Thailand
Japanese and Thai cinema: in the commercial feature film genre, both countries are currently enjoying international acclaim. What about noncommercial films and their distribution and screenings? FMIC head Sueoka Ichiro meets with Kick the Machine (Bangkok) rep Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Thai Short Film and Video Festival director Chalida Uabumrungjit to discuss the future of non-commercial film.
Kick the Machine
- Kick the Machine is a small, artist-run company in Bangkok. Its aim is to support a new generation of visual artists who need encouragement, information, and facilities to realize their dreams. Relying on a digital format (DV) as the future of mass exhibition—on cable TV, film festivals, video-multi-media installations, or even digital blow-up to 35mm films, it acts as an alternative distributor/promoter for new and emerging talents. The website’s film and video database is updated regularly to accommodate the growing numbers of new works. (To be reopened in November 2001!) Together with Project 304 Art Space it hosts the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival. Board members include Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Mysterious Object at Noon, YIDFF 2001 International Competition) and Michael Shaowanasai (Exotic 101, YIDFF ’99 New Asian Currents).
Thai Short Film and Video Festival
- Unlike the Bangkok International Film Festival which centers around feature films from around the world, the Thai Short Film and Video Festival hosts a competition of shorts from local filmmakers, special screenings of classics, and a slate of international programs. Festival director Chalida Uabumrungjit is a jury member for YIDFF New Asian Currents this year.
Film culture’s continuous growth and diversification are at a global scale today. That notwithstanding, the situation around noncommercial films and directors is anything but promising. With public funding for works like this, generally speaking, not substantial, filmmakers must face numerous hardships in order to continue their creative activities. Even worse, as a consequence of those hardships, highly talented directors often give up filmmaking.
On the other hand, directors and films in Japan and other parts of Asia have been subject to rising expectations internationally in recent years. Lately, a number of international film festivals and film events have put together programs to introduce these films.
Now, it seems that what is needed is a channel through which directors, critics, and distributors and above all the audience can connect. We also need to re-examine past works from the present point of view. We might say that this is one issue about which we only rarely subjected to conscious consideration up until now. We still have a number of issues that have been overlooked. We would like to make use of this occasion to identify such problems and offer an opportunity to search for better directions in which to move.
Born in 1965 in Sapporo. Filmmaker. Began making films in 1985. In 1994, established film study group Kino Balazs (URL: www.h3.dion.ne.jp/~k-balazs), which meets monthly. Along with teaching filmmaking at an art school in Tokyo, organizes 8mm film workshops at fine arts universities and other institutions. The Door of Absence (1992) was invited to the Oberhausen Short Film Festival in 1994. The Rainbow of Odds (1998) was featured in the Monter/Sampler exhibition at the Centre Pompidou last year, and has been screened widely in Japan and abroad. Major works include Amok (1985), Death & Mirror (1993), Drop Frame (1997), Juxtaposition/Family (1998), Flickwerk (2000) and Le premier amour de Bambi (2001).