Arts - Entertainment & It
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Art in an historic setting

A Very Special Excursion

Doi Saket Film Festival offers something for everyone


Art in an historic setting

Photographer Supachai Ketkaroonkul, 2nd left, is joined by British Honourary Consul Ben Svasti Thomson (left), Aracha Boon-Long of Muang Muang, 2nd right, and French Honorary Consul Thomas Baude (right) for the reception at the Lanna Architects Association.

By Shana Kongmun

The Lanna Architects Association Building, also known as the Khum Chao Buriratna building, is a beautiful, historic old building in the colonial Lanna style with beautiful gardens out front and magnificent teak floors inside. And despite a bit of drizzle, was still a magnificent location for the opening party showcasing the evocative photos of Paris by Supachai Ketkaroonkul.

Photographer Supachai is seen here with one of his more classic photos from Paris.

The show, titled Verse/Reverse or, in the more appropriate French, “Paris, l’endroit et l’envers” is sponsored by Muang and the Chiang Mai Alliance Fran็aise and will run until November 30. Just down Ratchadamnoen road from the U Hotel, the beauty of the inside is hidden behind high walls but well worth the visit.

Supachai’s photos must be of interest to native Parisians as well as to those who love the city or would just love to visit as its clear he spent his 6 years in Paris wandering to all sorts of nooks and crannies hidden around this beautiful city. As French Honorary Consul Thomas Baude pointed out, his photos evoke the timeless Paris, “Some of these photos could have been taken yesterday or 50 years ago.”

Running until November 30, the Lanna Architects Association can be found at the intersection of Ratchadamnoen and Phra Pokklao.


A Very Special Excursion

By Jai-Pee

On October 17th a small group from the Friends of the Chiang Mai Music Festival set off for a rare treat in Bangkok. Arranged through Silpakorn University and assistant secretary to the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music, Tasana Nagavajara, the group was first given a personalized tour of the Phya Thai Palace, built in the early part of the last century by the son of King Chulalongkorn, Rama VI. Then the highlight was the evening musical performance in the totally refurbished theatre in the grounds of the palace where no less a music maestro than Luigi Piovano, lead cellist with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome was to be soloist and conductor of the Princess Galyani Vadhana Orchestra with Tasana leading. Wow! What a performance it turned out to be – playing his 1795 London-made cello - Luigi gave a stunning performance of the Arpeggione Sonata transcribed by himself for his rare five-stringed cello and string orchestra. So what on earth is an arpeggione you may well ask? Well, it was an instrument invented in Vienna in 1822 and was a kind of cross between a classical guitar and cello, but with frets yet played with a bow. One of Schubert’s friends bought one of these new instruments but there was no music written for it. So the great composer quickly obliged and provided him with this sonata normally performed with piano accompaniment. The concert then was totally Italian – a rare piece of orchestral music, Crisantemi, by Puccini, a Vivaldi Flute Concerto and one of the three sets of Ancient Airs and Dances by Respighi. Acoustically the beautifully restored hall is excellent and the orchestra conducted by this dynamic and charming man, gave us all a stunning performance of everything.

But the night had only just begun as the little group joined Luigi and Tasana with some members of the orchestra for a slap-up Italian meal after the performance – quite a night since at midnight it was the start of Luigi’s birthday! This charming warm-hearted man is a real master musician and on his next tour of Asia when he will play the Dvorak Cello Concerto in Japan this time next year, we hope that he will be a guest performer at the Friends of the Chiang Mai Music Festival here in Chiang Mai – he certainly leapt at the invitation since he loves to perform in new places and bring joy and happiness to the music-loving public. Tasana will be performing in Chiang Mai this coming December, when on Friday 3rd he will be joined by Dr Pornphan Banternghansa on piano with a selection of Chopin pieces and the Cesar Franck Violin Sonata for the Friends of the Chiang Mai Music Festival. A similar but extended program will be given in San Kampaeng in the Vichit Studio on Saturday December 4th at 3.00pm, open to the public. Fuller details will appear later.

The whole excursion was a thing of beauty and full of exceptional memories. As maestro Luigi announced during the concert: ‘Music is one of the major ways of communication where language is often a barrier – but more than that, it brings people of all views, opinions and beliefs together uniting them in a unique manner’. How true that is! And how wonderful to have shared in this quite remarkable experience, with similar ventures being repeated on future occasions.

Doi Saket Film Festival offers something for everyone

By Mark Gempy

The grand opening of the Doi Saket Film Festival at Wat Doi Saket on October 23 was a stupendous success from one point of view: The evening made it clear that the organizers meant what they said when they said they wanted a community affair, where contemporary films (particularly Thai) were shown free to ordinary Thais who couldn’t afford to go to a Cineplex. They were savvy enough to combine the opening with a temple fair, and on a particularly big Buddhist holiday at that. So they had a huge crowd - whole families were there, plus all their sponsors had booths, there were all sorts of traditional entertainment, from drum playing to Thai dancing. They were hawkers touting their goods, and a lot to eat. The families had a good time, mine included. And for the first two films they had picked really grass-roots films about kids and young people, and the audience was mesmerized, even the kids.

They did rather goof in one crucial area. They started showing the film program exactly one hour earlier than scheduled, the time they had been saying all night that they would begin. They started at 7:30, not 8:30! They had a dance and music show and then showed previews and commercials, and even as the 7:30 time was approaching, there were rumors that they were going to take an hour break before the main show started. But they didn’t, and so it started one hour earlier than they had said it would. Two of my friends had come earlier in the afternoon, been told the movies would start at 8:30 and so left to eat with two of their friends to come back at 8:30. Not cool.

The first film was wildly melodramatic, touching very basic themes of Thai family life. This was I-Jang: The Woodcarver, by Kornwalai Chai-in. Everybody could relate to it. Way overly-emotional, but a certain skill in the filmmaking. My Thai friend, who never sees films, told me on the way home that he really liked the first movie — I think, much to his surprise.

The second film, Hand-Painted Feathers / Kinulayang Kiti, by Richard S. Legaspi, was very similar, this time about life and death issues, but was Filipino, and in Tagalog with English subtitles but not Thai subtitles (which probably would not have done much good anyway). Nevertheless, everyone could pretty much follow what was going on.

The kids in the audience alternated between being mesmerized by the film and the whole ambience, and suddenly getting restless for a little while and doing a bit of running before sitting down and getting engrossed again. In a way, that’s the way the vast majority of the audience acted as well.

After the first film, the director and one of the actors were introduced to enthusiastic acclaim, and they spoke a bit and there was some joking around, and the audience got the idea that these film folks aren’t that strange after all, and why don’t we come to these things more often? Score one for the festival.

The third and last film was probably the most serious of them all, and has gotten some measure of acclaim. This was Lost and Found, directed by Noth Thongsriphong, a Thai drama which at 47 minutes is one of the longer entries in the festival. It’s a slower and more meditative offering, which I did not stay to see. They had moved outside to show this one on the grass and cement, without chairs, and although they offered to get me a chair from outside, I said no. I just didn’t like the added noise and distraction outside, and the lesser quality sound, and the discomfort, and most importantly because of the mosquitoes.

Gauging from the crowds - many more people than they had expected - and the response I could feel all around me, the people in general had a very good time indeed and were glad to have come. So, I count it a success for them.

The event ran through October 30 and showed films from around the world, around the city and the province.

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