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Arts - Entertainment & It

EU Film Festival returns to Chiang Mai

A poster for Trishna with Frieda Pinto. Based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 'Trishna' tells the story of one woman whose life is destroyed by a combination of love and circumstances. Set in contemporary Rajasthan.

After two decades of presenting European culture through the celluloid screen to Thai cinephiles, the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand proudly presents the 21st European Union Film Festival 2012 at the Vista Kad Suan Kaew cinema in Chiang Mai from 15 to 24 June. All films will be shown in their original language with subtitles in English. Admission to all films is free of charge.

The European Union Film Festival (EUFF) 2012 showcases Europe’s cultural diversity, portrayed in 23 films from 17 different EU Member States. Many genres will be represented throughout the festival, including children's films, drama, romance, comedy and political documentary. Entering into its third decade, the European Union Film Festival this year screens recent productions as well showcasing stories from as early as the 1900s to present the roots of present-day European culture. The films suit audiences of every age including the Substitute: a comedy story of a new elementary teacher who can read kids' minds; Charlotte: A Royal at War: a documentary based on a true story about the untold events which took place during Hitler's Third Reich; Welcome: the story of a 17-year-old Kurdish boy’s adventure trying to cross the England Channel without the ability to swim; and The Flying Pigs: a story about those involved in the football business in Poland, the country that hosts Euro 2012 this year.

Detailed info on the EUFF, a list of films and the programs for Bangkok and Chiang Mai are enclosed. Programs, film synopses and movie trailers of all films are also available on the Facebook page of the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand: (PR)

EU Film Festival Screening Schedule

13.00: Pure 1 h 41 m Sweden
15.00: Soul Kitchen 1 h 39 m Germany
17.00: Princess 1 h 40 m Finland
19.00: Sonny Boy 2 h 10 m Netherlands
Saturday, 16 June
11.00: The Substitute 1 h 33 m Denmark
13.00: 18 Meals 1 h 47 m Spain
15.00: Empties 1 h 40 m Czech Republic
17.00: Loose Cannons 1 h 50 m Italy
19.00: North Face 2 h 6 m Austria
Sunday, 17 June
11.00: Krabat 2 h Germany
13.15: The Strange Case of Angelica 1 h 34 m Portugal
15.00: Charlotte: A Royal at War 1 h 38 m Luxembourg
17.00: In a Better World 1 h 59 m Denmark
19.15: Morgen 1 h 40 m Romania
Monday, 18 June
13.00: Made in Hungaria 1 h 48 m Hungary
15.00: Welcome 1 h 50 m France
17.00: Joanna 1 h 45 m Poland
19.00: Trishna 1 h 57 m UK
Tuesday, 19 June
13.00: The Flying Pigs 1 h 39 m Poland
15.00: Everlasting Moments 2 h 11 m Sweden
17.30: A Perfect Day 1 h 35 m Italy
19.15: For 80 Days 1 h 44 m Spain
Wednesday, 20 June
13.00: Turquaze 1 h 40 m Belgium
15.00: Morgen 1 h 40 m Romania
17.00: The Substitute 1 h 33 m Denmark
19.00: Krabat 2 h Germany
Thursday, 21 June
13.00: The Strange Case of Angelica 1 h 34 m Portugal
15.00: Trishna 1 h 57 m UK
17.15: Charlotte: A Royal at War 1 h 38 m Luxembourg
19.15: Joanna 1 h 45 m Poland
Friday, 22 June
13.00: 18 Meals 1 h 47 m Spain
15.00: North Face 2 h 6 m Austria
17.30: Empties 1 h 40 m Czech Republic
19.30: Soul Kitchen 1 h 39 m Germany
Saturday, 23 June
11.00: Welcome 1 h 50 m France
13.00: Pure 1 h 41 m Sweden
15.00: Made in Hungaria 1 h 48 m Hungary
17.00: Princess 1 h 40 m Finland
19.00: Sonny Boy 2 h 10 m Netherlands
Sunday, 24 June
11.00: In a Better World 1 h 59 m Denmark
13.10: Turquaze 1 h 40 m Belgium
15.00: For 80 Days 1 h 44 m Spain
17.00: The Flying Pigs 1 h 39 m Poland
18.50: Everlasting Moments 2 h 11 m Sweden
Screenings are subject to change without prior notice

Lady Gaga live in Bangkok

Lady Gaga’s famous motorcycle ride. (Photo by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon)

Story and Photos by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon

Although 50,000 tickets were sold, nevertheless the concert wasn’t sold out and for the Chiang Mai Mail I had the honor to see Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta live, myself. I paid for the ticket by myself too, just to tell all of you, that newspapers do not pay their employers any events nowadays.

However, even if so many praised the American superstar, who is a living example of the American dream, I wasn’t so happy with her performance in Bangkok. She acted childish, yelled, cried, laughed and was more than once terribly rude and a bad example for the young generation.

Lady Gaga performed on the electric piano as well. (Photo by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon)

Even so, she welcomed the second daughter of the Crown Prince HRH Princess Siriwanwalee personally to the stage. Then just 3 minutes after the Royal welcome – she stated that she does not give a f*** about anything. And her dancers and musicians stated the same. And when you than see the huge merchandising and propaganda machine – in the end it is about MONEY and nothing else.

When an entertainer arrives with 3 chartered Boeing 747 planes at Don Meuang Airport, because there wasn’t enough space at Suvarnabhumi airport available, then it is clear that it has to be about money.

And the security was like the American President was in town. I can remember when George Bush Jr. visited Bangkok, with about the same amount of police and army blocking areas and showing strength.

During the concert Ms. Germanotta said many times that she sees herself as a rebel, and she also used the opportunity to attack the people who criticized her in Asia, like Catholic demonstrators in the Philippines and Muslim groups in Indonesia.

The “castle” stage set was beautiful but not as amazing as expected (Photo by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon)

In Jakarta, where she cancelled her performance, because of radical Muslim’s threatening to kill the Italian-American tween queen, she had planned her biggest stage performance. But even though she says she doesn’t care about anything, it seems she does care about her security, and the safety of her fans too.

The stage show in Bangkok started with DJ Zed. He was semi successful in trying to get the crowd into some kind of frenzy, showing that he was a child of the 80s, with using sounds of the good old Commodore 64 games and also graphics of it on the displays of the two giant screens. Not to forget his teddy bear videos and some gags about the cell phone and facebook generation of nowadays. His stage and light show was even almost more impressive than the one of Lady Gaga. Maybe a new superstar was silently born in Bangkok?

A 30 minute break followed with impressions from a CD player of Vienna Classics, probably the  great Andre Rieu Orchestra, before Lady Gaga finally started her performance.

The stage construction – a castle like creation opened and closed its gates and Ms. Germanotta could walk on the walls and look out of the windows. In the front wings of the castle, her musicians could be found, each in his own little section. The towers had the Christian Cross and in some of her performances they were in ugly red, blood like color. With this, she made herself no friends in the Vatican.

I must say I expected fireworks, laser light effects, great things. But what I got to see were great costumes designed by a famous Italian designer, some 3 D giant screen performances and the castle itself in several different colors through different lights.

I have seen even the grandfathers of Disco Music giving better stage show performances than Lady Gaga did in Bangkok, it was really disappointing. But as she said that she wants to come back, let’s give her a second chance to do better.

Lady Gaga missed her playback several times, even so she sang a lot live and she hit her vocals. She further played the keyboard live and the dance performances and changes of the stage costumes in short times were spectacular.

The stage show was a mix out of “non Terrestrial” or alien to “Anti-Christian Catholic” ending somehow in favor of a message of “multicultural rebel and multi sexual peace message”, I really couldn’t understand.

The best scene of the evening, (caught of some cell phone shooters and those who were able to get cameras in, even pictures were strictly prohibited) was, when she took a Thai traditional golden hat from a fan, up on stage, and performed an a capella version of the song “Hair”, sitting on a motorcycle with the Thai Flag wearing a black pvc vinyl costume showing a lot of naked “flesh”.

This will go into Thai History and the pictures have been shown in most of the Thai newspapers. Of course we must show the picture here too.

In summary, what makes the Lady Gaga phenomenon so special is simply her composition style and the broad base of her music. I especially like her Latin American music and the disco beats as they remind me of real music.

Today where everything is copied and new recorded or simply only a beat without lyrics and anything behind is played, she still does something like real music and her songs have messages. Even so not in favor of special groups and some of the messages could easily be misunderstood. But this is my subjective opinion, others may see differently.

The mood in the concert was good many Thai people left after what they thought was the last song although she performed an encore of three more songs, next time she might do better to consider the cultural differences between Thais and Americans. The concert had ALL and I really mean ALL of her hits from older to new, nothing was missing.

The prices for the show ran between 1500 Baht and 7500 Baht, compared to many other superstars who have been in Bangkok in the last 10 years the prices seemed moderate. Even though I thought the stage show was disappointing, I would go to see Lady Gaga again. I am giving her a C plus for this time.

Simone Kopmajer brings her smooth style to Chiang Mai

Simone’s lovely face and beautiful voice was enjoyed by the large crowd but her performance of HM the King’s composition, Twilight, endeared her to her Thai fans.

By Shana Kongmun

Simone Kopmajer, a lovely jazz singer with a beautiful voice took the stage at the Empress Hotel to a near capacity crowd of Thai and foreign jazz enthusiasts. The opening act of local talents Taengmo and her band of Payap students kept the crowd highly entertained while waiting for the main show even inspiring CEO of the Night Safari Dr. Sarawut Srisakun to hand her a rose in homage of her talent.

Simone took the stage singing smooth jazz and pop favorites that slowly built up in tempo until she had many members of the audience singing and clapping with the music. With two local musicians backing her, Daniel on electric piano and Aey on the double bass, she was also backed by a fantastic drummer from Austria; Reinhardt. She wooed and then wowed the crowd with her voice but she completely won the crowd over with her rendition of Twilight, a composition by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej with lyrics in English and Thai by H.H. Prince Chakrabandh Pensiri.

A minor but yet distracting feature was the lighting system, swirling lights on the ceilings often translated into bright beams shot into the eyes distracting one from the dazzling enough performance on stage. One person commented that the swirling lights made her a bit dizzy! The spotlights that also roamed the crowd seemed to be set at a wrong angle, often catching the audience in the eye. And while the convention hall of the Empress Hotel was perhaps not the intimate venue that suits Simone’s style it was understandable given that bringing an artist of this caliber to Chiang Mai isn’t always the easiest thing and not necessarily one that can be seen by only a small crowd.

H Gallery opens in Mae Rim June 3

This oil on canvas by Mit Jai Inn will be on display at Chiang Mai’s newest gallery; H Gallery will open in Mae Rim on June 3, 2012.

H Gallery will launch its inaugural exhibition when it shows the paintings of Mit Jai Inn. The province’s first purpose-built gallery. H Gallery Chiang Mai promises to build on the established profile of H Gallery Bangkok, and H Project Space, with innovative and dynamic exhibitions that draw on the rich legacy of experimental art in the area and introduce new dialogues.

Mit Jai Inn is one of Thailand’s leading artists and is rapidly developing an international profile. He is included in the 18th Biennale of Sydney, 2012, curated by Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster.

“Untitled” introduces new paintings made especially for H Chiang Mai alongside the artist’s signature use of a soft geometric abstraction on double-sided canvases, sometimes coiled. Reminiscent of prayer flags or certain types of mandalas, the paintings’ expressive surfaces, often extravagant color, and sense of objecthood also suggest condensed references to canonical art history. This oscillation between the coded or symbolic and the autonomous is further pressured by a politics of form and color: Mit plays with references to the Thai national flag and divisive factions from the political landscape of this country, factions signified by particular colors.

The rhizomatic quality of Mit’s paintings challenges conventional methods of contextualization. Influences from dominant narratives of art history, the idiosyncrasies of notions of contemporary art and issues of the relationship between aesthetics and politics reverberate in UNTITLED. While challenges to conventional categories of understanding have been a staple of art practices for any number of decades, Mit re-invigorates the interest of ambiguity, divergence and multiplicity because of a freighted local backdrop that insists on the superiority of the unilateral, literal and linear.

H Gallery Chiang Mai is located 1/2 Km beyond the Tiger Kingdom in Mae Rim and is a short drive from The Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and Dara Pirom Palace Museum. The gallery is open to the public by appointment only on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday each week. For an appointment contact H Gallery Chiang Mai on 085 021 5508. (PR)

A Piece of Life

Suvannabhumi Galllery owner Mar Mar represented the artist at the opening as he was unable to attend.

By Lili Tan

Artist Ye Win Aung’s second solo show, he was born in Mandalay but is based in Yangon, and is graduate of the Mandalay Fine Arts School. His first solo show was in Yangon last year. Watercolor on paper, the artist, who was unable to attend the event as he couldn’t get his papers in time, portrays an interesting contemporary take on traditional life in Burma; the folk women, bullock carts, dancing etc.

The artist was represented by gallery owner Mar Mar at the showing that took place at the Suvannabhumi Gallery on Charoenrat Road on Friday, May 11, 2012.

Ye Win Aung’s work is a contemporary take on traditional Burmese life.

Mar Mar discusses the watercolor paintings with a guest at the opening.

The artist, Ye Win Aung, looks at the traditional lifestyle in
Myanmar in a unique way.


Chiang Mai Ensemble invites you to the dance

“Invitation to the Dance”, is the title of the next concert from the Chiang Mai Ensemble. Many of the compositions will be dedicated to Dance Music, from Baroque to Late-Romantic.  Composers will include Durante, Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Donizetti, Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Godard, Piazzolla, and Vora-urai. The Chiangmai Ensemble consists of 5 Chiang Mai musicians/teachers: Mutita Narkmuang on guitar, Ong-ard Kanchaisak, Counter-tenor, Remi Namtep on piano, Xavier Vichitporn, flute, and Witsaruth Tawinno, cello. The Ensemble will be performing at the AUA Auditorium on June 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at 200 Baht can be obtained from the musicians or by reservation through phone number 089 757 9875, and (if still available) before the concert at the door.

Antique textiles on display at 137 Pillars House

The opening evening with Rene Anant Feddersen (2nd left) was hosted by Chris Stafford of SilverNeedle Hospitality (center)and Manfred Ilg General Manager of the 137 Pillars House Resort (far left) and was attended by many interested locals including Mrs Dararat Sioris (2nd right) and her husband George Sioris, former Ambassador of Greece to Thailand (far right).

By Shana Kongmun

The fabulous 137 Pillars House in Wat Gate hosted a show of antique textiles from South East Asia and India now through the end of July when the textiles will be sold and the proceeds donated to a Chiang Mai based charity. The exhibition featured 100 year old textiles from tribal Iban people on Borneo, to Khmer textiles from Cambodia as well as Sumatran and Surin textiles.

The owner of the textiles, Rene Anant Feddersen of 338 Oida Art offered knowledgeable and interesting stories about the various textiles including the Iban textile featuring crocodiles, the handwoven tapis skirts that Sumatran women had to weave prior to marriage; each village had its own distinctive style so that the origin of each woman could be identified by her skirt. The skirts each had metal woven into the fabric in unique and beautiful designs.

The beautiful old house of the 137 Pillars House is the perfect location as it matches the 19th century collection in mood, after viewing the textiles enjoy a cocktail in the beautifully appointed lounge.

One of the many beautiful antique textiles on display at the exhibition, all the textiles are for sale and proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

Rene explains the usage and meaning of the textiles as Alfa Hugelmann listens in.

A few more of the 19th century textiles that 137 Pillars House staff spent all day hanging and preparing for the show.

Uab Sanasen – a Musical Tribute to a Great Thai Artist

Violinist Tasana Nagavajara accompanied by the wonderful pianist Pornphan Banternghansa performed in honor of honored Thai artist Uab Sanasen who passed away two years ago.

Uab Sanasen passed away two years ago. He was a great artist whose paintings broke all the conventional bounds as he set new standards and forged new directions for artists to follow. His work is magnificent even though the more conservative might find some of it a little avant-garde.

To remember this man and his prolific work, Chiang Mai University Faculty of Arts hosted a memorial concert in the presence of Uab’s family on Sunday afternoon, April 29th when Thailand’s finest exponent of the violin, Tasana Nagavajara accompanied by the wonderful pianist Pornphan Banternghansa gave us a most impressive concert. Why a violin recital, you may ask? Well, Uab was a violinist as well as an artist – in fact his first intention was to become a violinist but as fate decreed, this was not to be. Nevertheless he collected a huge amount of music which he played from time to time between his painting and it was from this collection that Tasana chose the music for the memorial recital.

The recital opened with a violin sonata by the Baroque composer Corelli –a really challenging and difficult piece which is a long set of variations on a simple theme known as La Folia. The playing was immaculate – sonorous, airy, colourful and imaginative – just the same as many of Uab’s own paintings. Following this came one of Dvorak’s most tender inspirations – his Opus 100 violin sonatina in G major. Dvorak wrote this piece when he knew he would return home from his long stay in the United States and the music is bursting with lyrical melodies and nuances that speak so nostalgically of his love for his homeland. This is not easy music to play – I once heard an eminent musician remark that only a Czech musician could ever capture the essence and spirit of Czech music – Tasana and Pornphan came very close to that – the playing was forceful when it needed to be, delicate by contrast but overall the nostalgia was captured eloquently by both players from the opening melody through to the final movement. Uab would have been proud of their performance.

The second half was devoted to the famous English violin virtuoso piece, The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan-Williams and four pieces by Austrian composer Fritz Kreisler. These works were amazing contrasts – the first full of floating high melodies evocatively portraying the lark high above; the second set was a collection of well-known favourite melodies by a man who popularized the classical violin not just in his homeland but throughout the world – both performers gave us impeccable interpretations.

Nothing could have been more fitting as a tribute to a man who loved so much the beauty of the world. With a few opening remarks from Uab’s daughter and flowers presented by Uab’s widow at the end, we were honoured to be in the presence of such fine musicians while reflecting on the like of a great man. Outside the intense heat had been tempered by a little rain – walking out into the fresher air afterwards where the ratchapeuk (laburnum) trees were all in their finest yellow glory was like stepping into a new world – and nothing could have been a more fitting tribute to celebrate the life of a wonderful artist who left us with such a brilliant new world in his paintings.

Quite Extraordinary Performances – Chomchat Silarat in Recital

Sixteen-year-old Chomchat Silarat being presented with a gift after her stunning performance on Saturday April 28th

By Jai Pee

This last weekend, the 27th and 28th April, the winner of the Bangkok Beethoven Competition, Chomchat (Palmy) Silarat presented two exhilarating and scintillating recitals for the Friends of Music Making in Chiang Mai at Santi’s Music School. No wonder she won the Beethoven competition, and indeed, also last year the Silpakorn Suumer Music School’s piano concerto competition. She is a superstar in the making. Several members of the audience were moved to tears by her amazing touch and deep understanding of the music she was playing. Her opening Bach Prelude and Fugue, a challenging piece, was played with precision, excellent control and with some startling arpeggios – but this was just the start of two radiant evenings – Palmy moved on to the beautiful Beethoven ‘Les Adieux’ Piano Sonata which was played impeccably. She captured the nostalgic spirit of this great sonata so eloquently, this piece being dedicated to one of Beethoven’s patrons who was leaving Vienna as the French forces approached – hence the title. The opening chords that spell out the message ‘Le-Be-Wol’ (Farewell) were played with just the right amount of nostalgia and depth – setting the scene for the sparkling and at times dazzling passages that follow – Palmy coped with all of these as if it were second nature, handling the difficult transitional sections of the development sections with a mastery quite astonishing for one so young – just sixteen years old.

This was the second time this month that the Friends have sponsored newly emerging Thai talent – both times with first-class results and the audiences have responded rapturously. Palmy’s control, contrasts and arpeggios in the Chopin second scherzo were equally amazing – she has a rare gift for understanding every nuance and technically her performance throughout was quite superb. She continued with a show-piece by Liszt and the evocative L’Ile Joyeux by Debussy – each piece played with great fervour, technical skill and total immersion into the music. Her finger-work was a joy to watch and the way in which she captured the essence of the music by these contrasting composers was nothing short of amazing. These were recitals to savour and remember for a long time. Palmy will be off to Bonn in Germany to the International Beethoven Festival later this year – at the invitation of the three judges who awarded her first prize in the competition in Bangkok last year – and no wonder – this young woman has learnt so much already, much of it due to the first class tutelage of Dr Pornphan Banternghansa who herself has been invited to play in Bayreuth in August and who will be giving the Friends a preview of her German recital here in Chiang Mai in July. We wish them both the best of good fortune as they take the Thai flag to foreign shores.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

EU Film Festival returns to Chiang Mai

EU Film Festival Screening Schedule

Lady Gaga live in Bangkok

Simone Kopmajer brings her smooth style to Chiang Mai

H Gallery opens in Mae Rim June 3

A Piece of Life

Chiang Mai Ensemble invites you to the dance

Antique textiles on display at 137 Pillars House

Uab Sanasen – a Musical Tribute to a Great Thai Artist

Quite Extraordinary Performances – Chomchat Silarat in Recital