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April 14, 2010

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Chills, laughs in Thai films

THAI films are extremely rare in Chinese cinemas and on TV, but they have a growing Chinese following, and on Friday and Sunday nine films will be screened and discussed.

Most of the films are horror, comedy and feel-good films.

Attracted by distinctive Thai culture and good-looking stars, Chinese fans keep up with the latest online and some even post Chinese subtitles as most Thai films don't have them. Some have English subtitles.

The weekend screenings and discussions are organized by the Royal Thai Consulate General in Shanghai and the Shanghai Theater Academy. Films will be screened at the theater academy and the Shanghai Quyang Film and Television Archive.

Film experts, professors and those working in the industry will attend, including eight from Thailand and more than 20 from China. Their articles for the seminar will be translated, compiled and published in both countries.

"Thai film aesthetics combine the best of Asian and Western culture to create a very distinct style and increased recognition in the international film industry," says Professor Zhang Zhongnian from Shanghai Theater Academy.

He cites Thai film's fresh exploration and representation of traditional culture and folklore.

"Hopefully this seminar will be a platform for young Chinese film experts who are studying and introducing Thai movies," he says.

The event will screen contemporary films mainly in comedy and horror.

"Horror films are very popular for the mass audience in Thailand. Thai culture is very rich in its beliefs, especially when it comes to ghosts and spirits," says Associate Professor Raksarn Wiwatsinudom, head of the Film and Photography Department of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

"We have are so many kinds of ghosts, such as a filth-eating female spirit, not-yet-cremated corpses, female tree spirit, house guardian spirits and jungle spirits, to name a few. So it's easy to create plots based on these tales," he says.

Thai horror films are especially connected with daily life, they don't just scare audiences with bloody and horrible visuals, but represent psychological terror,

The oldest film on the list is "Ruen Pae" (1961) about two young men, a gangster and policeman who fall in love with the same woman.

The other eight films were released after 2000, such as "Last Life in the University," a thriller and love story about the love between a Japanese man and a Thai woman, brought together by the death of the woman's sister.

"Romantic comedies also emerged as a popular genre last year. Comedies and 'feel good movies' are the favorites now," says Wiwatsinudom, who has studied film and television for 25 years.

Date: April 16, 18

Tel: 6288-3030 ext 32, 6554-0019

Tickets: Call for free tickets

Venue: New Space, Shanghai Theater Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Shanghai Quyang Film and Television Archive, 574 Quyang Rd


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