Thai producers on offensive at Busan film festival


The global economic slowdown has inflicted blows to almost every industry on the planet, and while it seems the film industry is no exception, Thai filmmakers may be going against the trend.

Every year, eager buyers hold business talks at all hours with film producers and brokers who flow into Busan from all over the globe, from Asia in particular, to sell their films.

This year, the 17th International Film Festival in South Korea’s second largest city of Busan, the usually bustling film trading market is less active than usual.

The world slump has affected producers and buyers alike at the Asian film market. The atmosphere was not as energetic and lively as in previous years.

But predictably there are Thai producers who care little for the conventional wisdom. They are unrelentingly pushing to penetrate the international film market, bringing credit both to their creative competence of the producers but to their persistence and belief in their products. Thai film producers are on the make to penetrate where no viewers have yet gone.

Panita Shinawatra, representative of Thailand’s Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion office (SMEP), said 25 Thai film entrepreneurs and producers participated in the festival and its Asian film market with the twin objectives of attracting foreign investors to Thailand and distributing Thai films in the international market arena.

SMEP and the Federation of National Film Association of Thailand jointly organised the trip.

Kantana, Thailand’s biggest and best-known film production company, has no booth at the Asian film market this year –perhaps a sign of the economic times at home and abroad– but just the same it vaulted ahead and was able to sell “Echo Planet,” an animation movie to South Korea’s Golden Network.

Part of Kantana’s good news is that its “Echo Planet” realised a higher sales price in South Korea than in Thailand.

Thai movers and shakers are active on the scene at Busan, and perhaps are carrying Thai spirit –and soul– to Korea’s Seoul as well, raising the temperature of both business negotiations and viewer excitement.

Bangkok director Yongyuth Thongkongthun from GMM Thai Hub –GTH for short– smiled broadly on learning that tickets for two GTH-produced films –“Suckseed ATM” and “Seven Something”– were sold out on the very first day despite four scheduled showings.

Meanwhile, “Countdown”, a Thai thriller, was shown at the Busan festival even though the producer said it wasn’t quite ready, as he wanted to put a final touch on his film. Viewers responded with enthusiasm for his thriller though, complimenting the Thai director for his spine-chilling production.

Five Star Production’s kiosk was visited by want-to buyers from Japan, India, Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines with many of the potential buyers taking interest in “The Second Sight” and “3 AM”, two of the group’s three-dimensional horror movies. Some buyers were keen to strike a deal even before Five Stars opened its booth.

Thai thriller and horror movies are selling like hot cakes in the international film market. A representative of Koch Media, an independent producer and marketer of digital entertainment products in Europe and North America, recently came to Thailand directly to buy horror movies to be shown in Germany next year.

“There’re a lot of good Thai horror films, like ‘Shutter’ for example. It’s of course interesting for Germany. I believe it’s going to be a good horror film. It has a lot of good selling points. I hope Thai films will keep up the good level and high production values and Thai movie companies will do more of amazing action films,” German buyer Manuel Eward said.

In addition to major Thai film companies, smaller producers are interested in having their shares in the international market.

Meanwhile, Angel and Bear Productions, a Thai-Swiss entertainment company, and Arromdee Studio screened their independent movies including “Yes or No”, episodes 1 and 2, and “She” in the Asian film market after their successes in China and Taiwan.

It is the first year the two producers joined the Busan festival.