Extra Virgin, the indie production and distribution shingle run by producer-director Pimpaka Towira, has a new initiative with SF cinemas in Thailand, Unlock Indies, a film series that opened last week with the multi-country co-production Distance.
Others in the series will be The Rice Trilogy by Uruphong Raksasad and Pimpaka’s own latest feature, The Island Funeral
The films are being released in a very limited run. Don’t blink, or you will miss them. For example, Distance was initially released at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and SFX Cinema Central Rama 9 in Bangkok, and at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Today, it’s down to just one screening a day at CentralWorld.
Next week, the program changes to what’s now known as Uruphong’s Rice Trilogy, with Stories from the North, Agrarian Utopia and The Songs of Rice (เพลงของข้าว, Pleng Khong Kao) taking turns on the big screen. They are among my favorites, and I hope he makes more films like these.
And on July 21, Pimpaka will release her own film, The Island Funeral (มหาสมุทรและสุสาน, Maha Samut Lae Susaan), which premiered last year in Tokyo and has been on a tear around the world, screening in places like Seattle, Aichi and Valetta and winning awards in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The Island Funeral will also be shown at the Singapore Festival of the Arts.
Meanwhile, Distance is an ambitious project headed up by Singaporean director Anthony Chen, winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his 2013 debut drama Ilo Ilo. He gets help from Thai producer Aditya Assarat, who also wrote one of the segments.
With Distance, Chen and Assarat pay tribute to their Taiwanese and Chinese cinema influences and rounded up three young-buck award-winning Asian directors to do the job. They are Tan Shijie from Singapore, Xin Yukun from China and Sivaroj Kongsakul from Thailand. Each take a crack at directing Taiwanese actor Chen Bo-lin in segments that explore the notion of “distance” and what it means in our societies.