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Chiang Mai ancient corners established in ancient times

Still many excellent movies left to be seen at European Film Festival 2005

Chiang Mai ancient corners established in ancient times

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai is also known as the Rose of the North, and is an important city in the northern region. Chiang Mai is a city filled with ancient sites, antiques and examples of the old Lanna culture. It was established 709 years ago by King Meng Rai, the original ruler of the Meng Rai dynasty and is one of the oldest cities in the northern region.

Chiang Mai was designed in a rectangular shape, with a perimeter wall including four gates and a surrounding moat.

Sriphum Corner has degenerated and is in very poor shape.

Being a rectangle, there are four corners, each with its own significance. The first of these is known as Sriphum Corner, initially called Saleephum or Hua-moo corner, which means to bless the city. This corner is located at the north-east. It was the starting point of setting up Chiang Mai City and was established in 1296. There was a large Sai tree beside the corner that people believe gave blessing and abundance, so this corner ended up being called Sriphum Corner.

The second, Gatum or Khatum corner is at the south-east point. People said that it was the Montree of the city or animal catcher, as it received water from another corner full of fish. Residents in the past fished in Gatum.

It has degenerated as can be seen from side of Gatum or Khatum corner.

The third, Goohuang or Gooruang Corner, is at the south-west point deemed to be an unfortunate point of the city because it was the point housing the bones of Meng Rai’s son, Meun Ruang, who controlled Khun Kreua, and who fought with his brother to compete for throne.

Sriphum Corner, initially called Saleephum or Hua-moo corner.

Fourth, Hualin Corner, is located at the north-west point and receives its water from Huay Kaew and Doi Suthep. This corner is deemed to represent the age of the city and means the beginning point of receiving water.

Over the decades, the four corners have degenerated, but they have been renewed continually as have the city walls and gates. One of great periods of rebuilding took place in the King Gawila period in 1801.

The latest refurbishment took place in 1997 but there are no plans to renew the four corners again. The government has not approved permanent funds to renew the corners. It would be regrettable if the four ancient places are abandoned and degenerate as time passes. Local residents should be active in pressing for conserving and renewing them, not only the corners, but also the adjacent areas because they are important Chiang Mai symbols.

Gatum or Khatum corner is at south-east point. People said that it was the Montree of the city or animal catcher.

Hualin Corner is located at north-west point and receives water from Huay Kaew and Doi Suthep.

Goohuang or Gooruang Corner is at south-west point known as the unfortunate point of the city.

Goohuang Corner seen from the front.

Goohuang or Gooruang Corner is most perfectly surrounded with beautiful natural areas.

Still many excellent movies left to be seen at European Film Festival 2005

Manus Brinkman

I remember how delighted I was years ago to see the first masterpieces of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean directors in theaters in Amsterdam. Chen Kaige and ZhangYimou became icons of guiding us into a new world, a world of color, a world of different dilemmas, of other perspectives.

Although movies from Asia are not as often on the menu as Hollywood movies, they can be seen regularly in various cities all over the world. They were accessible because of English subtitles, not too difficult for people with a Latin alphabet and more or less related languages.

Pravit Arkanachinores, Hon Austrian Consul, Chao Duangduan na Chiangmai, Thomas Baude, Hon. French Consul, and Andreas Lizt, Charge d’affairs European Commission at the opening reception of the European Film Festival.

European movies would be an enrichment for Asian moviegoers as Asian movies were for Europeans. The European Film festival offers English subtitles. But unfortunately it is not so easy to follow these easily, when you are not used to the Latin script and in fact your whole language is in a different league. Movies shown in Thailand should be made available with Thai subtitles. I know it will cost a lot of money, but it also brings a lot of goodwill and organizing a film festival where most interested Thai moviegoers are put off by the difficulty of the language makes no sense.

And it is worth the effort, because European movies bring a different perspective on life. Distribution channels are unfortunately dominated by Hollywood, giving us the wrong illusion that that is because the audience in general likes Hollywood movies more than others. Of course there is a certain truth in it: the Hollywood producers are masters in catering for the taste and needs of a wide audience. They have made great movies, but produced a lot of junk as well, not unlike the Europeans.

Dignitaries and organizers pose in front of this year’s European Film Festival’s logo at the Major Cineplex Complex, Central Airport Plaza.

European movies are different in various aspects: most of the time they don’t have big budgets: no Titanic, no Lord of the Rings, no big stars either. They therefore need to focus on specific themes, among which the human individual dealing with the various twists and turns in life is a popular one. Right and wrong are not always very clear: there is wrong in right and right in wrong. It is a different approach from Hollywood, where the message is almost always visible in big capital neon signs.

There are few recent European movies where armies or individuals go to war to set things right. And Europeans produce amazingly few “feel good” movies while comedies are most of the time more sour than sweet.

The opening movie from Luxembourg is a case in point. It is filmed from the perspective of a teenage girl, looking for a mother who abandoned her at an early age. The girl suffers a lot from this and even confronts her caring father for the urge to see her mother again. Their reunion is the highlight of the movie, but not the way you would expect it to be. The mother is still not interested at all.

A scene from the Luxembourg move “Norah”.

“Forget it”, she says after ten minutes: “Let it be. We should not look at the past and excuse me, because I have to go back to work,” abandoning the girl again. It is a blend of hard-knocks drama and gentle-tenderness. It is also about the continuous restoration of balance in life, a general European theme. It is an excellent first major feature film from director Genevieve Mersch who won the Zenith d’Or at the Montreal Film festival.

European movies have very few star actresses or actors; maybe with the exception of the UK and France; the movie industry is simply not big enough. Maybe it is a shortcoming, but it brings also opportunities to not so well known actors, like for Marie Kremer, the leading actress in “I always wanted to be a saint”.

The Irish “Song for a Raggy Boy” was a tough movie to watch, drab and dark to match the spirit of a horrible catholic reform school. It was based on a true story, which made it not just another movie on the terror of the black days of the Catholic Church. Excellent acting, especially by the children.

“Schultze” from Germany was European comedy at its best, but most probably very difficult to understand for non-Europeans. I saw people in the audience laughing till they cried while others seemed to be puzzled about what was so funny. It won prizes for Best Art Direction and Production Design, which were well deserved. I have seldom seen a movie which such an excellent eye for design detail.

Europe can also make movies of poor quality like “The Root of the Heart” from Portugal. A pretentious and pathetic movie that ends up in the lower regions of the zero ranking.

We have to thank the organizers, among which is Major Cineplex, who provided the excellent theatre. The volume could be a bit lower; not everybody needs to witness the full Star Wars capacity of the surround system while looking at a psychological drama.

Other irritations? Yes, the woman that entered half an hour after the opening and opened a king size pack of crisps, noisily cracking away while on the screen a schoolboy was raped by a priest. But that certainly is not Major Cineplex’ mistake.

The European film Festival offers a truly wide variety of recent European cinema. It is an excellent initiative, which deserves much praise. On the average I counted an audience of 50, with a top of 140 for “On the other side of the Bridge” from Austria. Most were Europeans and Americans: 15 percent Thai is my wild guess. Although it is an excellent opportunity for Europeans to see movies from their part of the world, I still find it a major challenge to try for an audience of predominantly Thai people.

The market reigns and we will have our share of Hollywood in Chiangmai, counting for about 90 percent of the non-Thai movies. But I have still the idealistic idea that beauty and variety can be promoted, even if the market forces run against it.

There are still a lot of excellent movies left to be seen, with “Head On” and “The Son”, certainly as highlights. You have the time until the 19th of June.