Dignitaries attend the opening night of the 2009
EU Film Festival (from left): Mr and Mrs Supajee Nilubol, Swedish Honorary
Consul, Khemkheng Kengkarnkar of Kad Suankaew, Vice Governor of Chiangmai,
Beatriz Martins of the EC Delegation, Mia Ohrn of the Swedish Embassy and
Kobkul Ratchakitti also from the EC Delegation.
Dignitaries and well-wishers gathered in the lobby of the Kad
Theater at Kadsuankaew a week last Thursday night for the opening ceremonies
of the 2009 edition of the EU Film Festival. We were there to celebrate the
start of eleven days of screenings of recent European Union films.
Representing the head of the Delegation of the European Commission to
Thailand was Beatrice Martin, sitting in for Ambassador David Lipman. She
addressed the assembled filmgoers, speaking on behalf of the EU, and said
that in presenting the EU Film Festival “we wish to open the eyes of Thai
audiences to new cinematic experiences, and to provide an insight into other
cultures and lives.”
Noted was the fact that for the first time there would be a number of
documentaries on view. “They focus on European history, everyday happenings,
and the transformative art of music in breaking borders.”
Also speaking at the opening festivities was Mia Ohrn, representing the
presidency of the European Union, who introduced the evening’s film, which
was from Sweden. Also welcoming the well-wishers was the Deputy Governor of
Chiang Mai, Pairoj Saengspoowong.
The EU’s festival of films has been a highlight of Chiang Mai life for the
past 12 years. I met up with Kobkul Ratchakitti, Cultural Assistant,
Delegation of European Commission, who did a great deal of the day-to-day
work to bring the festival to Chiang Mai. She and I sampled the variety of
foods catered by the Lotus Hotel, and chatted with many of Chiang Mai’s film
buffs and local luminaries.
We all then adjoined to the cinema to see the festival’s opening film Zozo,
a well-reviewed and affecting 2005 drama from Sweden which was that
country’s 2005 submission for the Academy Awards’ best foreign-language
film. It’s a story both tender and terrifying about the challenges facing a
young boy who struggles to flee to his grandparent’s home in Sweden after
his parents are killed in war torn Beirut. The drama was based loosely on
the experiences of writer and director Josef Fares, who himself emigrated to
Sweden when he was ten.
Altogether, it was a fine evening of ceremony, ending with a heartfelt,
hopeful, and beautifully-crafted film.