BANGKOK – Thailand, already Southeast Asia’s most successful nation at luring in foreign film shoots, is ramping up efforts at promoting its exotic settings and production facilities to the international screen industry. On Wednesday the inaugural Thailand International Film Destination Festival kicked off in Bangkok.
The new event, designed specifically to promote Thailand’s history as a shooting location, will include public screenings in central Bangkok of popular Thai-set films, such as The Hangover 2, The Beach, The Impossible, Vinyan, The Lady, China’s recent box-office record-breaker, Lost in Thailand, and others.
There will also be industry-orientated seminars and tours of Thailand’s production facilities, along with a short film competition called the “Amazing Thailand Film Challenge.”
Bangkok premieres of recent foreign indie projects shot in-country will also be screened, including Thai action director Prachya Pinkaew‘s Hollywood debut Elephant White starring Kevin Bacon and Djimon Hounsou, Danish romantic comedy Teddy Bear and the globalization drama Mammoth from Swedish director Lukas Moodysson.
According to the Thailand Film Development office, a branch of the government’s Ministry of Tourism, foreign film productions have contributed around $340 million (10 billion baht) to the Thai economy over the past five years.
In 2011, the film industry supported an estimated 86,600 local jobs; and in 2012, a record 636 foreign films were shot in Thailand, up from 606 in 2011.
On April 9, Hong Kong sibling director duo, the Pang Brothers will be presenting a screening of their 2007 thriller The Detective, starring Aaron Kwok and shot in Thailand. The Pang Brothers have directed several projects in Thailand – including Bangkok Dangerous (1999), which they later remade in 2008 in the titular city with Nicholas Cage in the lead. The brothers – Oxide and Danny – will answer questions from film professionals about their experiences and suggestions for working in the country.
The festival’s Amazing Thailand Film Challenge, which began Monday, pits teams of moviemakers against one another to produce the best Thai-set short film over the course of one week, shooting anywhere in country, about any Thai subject they like. The contest has attracted 48 foreign teams of competitors and two Thai teams. The winners will be announced at a red carpet event in Bangkok on April 10 and will receive a $35,000 prize (one million Thai baht). – by Patrick Brzeski