Tue, Feb 03, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Bangkok gets the star treatment

A bevy of stars helped wrap up the 12-day festival which saw a French-Canadian film take top honors


Christopher Doyle, left, poses with the Thai makers of last Life in the Universe.


The 2004 Bangkok International Film Festival pulled out all the stops Sunday with fireworks over the Chaophraya River, French performers and traditional Thai dancers and musicians to entertain its 200 international guests on closing night.

The extravaganza brought to an end the 12-day event that culminated in the awarding of 11 prestigious Golden Kinnaree awards to Southeast Asian, as well as international, filmmakers.

The Barbarian Invasions, a French-Canadian drama about an ill hedonist reflecting on his life, won the Golden Kinnaree award in the international competition section, defeating films such as Lost in Translation, Girl With the Pearl Earring and the festival's Thai opening film, The Siam Renaissance. Last Life in the Universe, another Thai entry, by director Pen-ek Rattanaruang, won in the Best ASEAN Movie category.

The winners were announced Saturday night at a gala dinner presided over by HRH Princess Ubolratana at the Royal Thai Navy Auditorium. Chinese actors Li Yixiang (李易祥), Wang Shuangbao (王雙寶) and Wang Baoqiang (王寶強) shared the Best Actor award for the movie Blind Shaft (盲井). The award was another feather added to director Li Yang's (李楊) hat for Blind Shaft, which won awards around the world last year, including two Golden Horse awards.

Giovanna Mezzagiorno won Best Actress for Facing Windows, also a strong winner at recent festivals. Jim Sheridan won Best Director for his latest project, In America, a story of Irish immigrants to the US. Oliver Stone also made an appearance to pick up a Career Achievement Award, while Christopher Doyle received a tribute award for his cinematography.

Unfortunately, except for Doyle and Stone, the other awardees failed to turn up to accept their awards, which dimmed somewhat the excitement at the gala dinner. Doyle began his cinematography career in Taiwan, gaining fame for his work with Wong Kar Wai (王家衛) in Happy Together, In the Mood For Love, and with Phillip Noyce in The Quiet American.

On top of taking the Crystal Lens Award for his achievement in shooting his characteristically stylish images of Asia, Doyle also shared the honor of the ASEAN Award, having been the cinematographer for Last Life in the Universe.

Despite the absence of the award winners, a few Hollywood A-list actors appeared at the gala dinner, adding some glam and media attention to the event and generating some publicity for their upcoming movies.

Among the most spotlighted was Chinese actress Bai Ling (白靈), who, with her black strapless top, micro-mini skirt and Cleopatra haircut, hogged most of the attention from the photographers. At the dinner party, the Chinese actress who played in Red Corner (1997) with Richard Gere and in Anna and the King (1999), spoke fervidly about her many major projects. After Bangkok, she will first go to the Berlin film festival for the film Beautiful Country, written by Terrence Malick and directed by Hans Petter Moland. Then in Cannes, she will be promoting Spike Lee's new film She Hate Me, in which she plays a lesbian New York fashion designer. Meanwhile, she will soon be promoting sci-fi flick Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III.

"I feel especially lucky this year that I got all those offers purely by chance," said Bai. She said she bumped into Lucas' daughter at an MTV party and was introduced to Lucas. "I was sort of joking to George that he should have a role for me so that I can use a Chinese brush as a weapon. A few days later, I got the call!" she said.

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