In special partnership, MAAP presented the Australian premiere of the fifth Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (BEFF5) in Brisbane from December 10-13 2008.
Curation of the 2008 BEFF programme was conducted by Australian writer and theorist David Teh under the auspices of an Australia Council for the Arts funded MAAP mentorship, and with the oversight of senior Bangkok curator Gridthiya Gaweewong.
MAAP further contributed to BEFF5 with the specifically commissioned programme Video Ground, curated by MAAP Curatorial and Special Projects consultant Rachel O’Reilly. This partnership with BEFF 5 is an example of MAAP’s long history of collaborative approaches to media art in the region.
BEFF 5 celebrated the independent nature of experimental film culture and “its ability to intercept and interrupt the signals of official and commercial culture, to show that another message, another reality, is possible” (David Teh). This year’s festival, The More Things Change… , positions the moving image within a broader political context, and assesses its capacity to reflect and inspire social and political change.
In March 2008, the festival presented Bangkok with over 150 new works of Thai and International experimental film. The screenings mostly took place at a Bangkok cineplex, with a dedicated Mobile Cine program of roaming guerilla public projections. For the only Australian screening of BEFF 5, MAAP created a site-specific media library allowing engagement with the films on demand.
The 8 screening programs presented in Brisbane were selected to highlight the strong thematics of the BEFF 5 program. Learned Behaviour, Track Changes, Daily Rounds and Nature’s Recipe (Thammachad Tumra) comprised the core program responding to both the Thai political situation and the politics of everyday life. Fluid Dynamics represented non-narrative approaches to the moving image, whilst ThaiIndie Showcase and Remains shared some more reflective, personal stories with the audience. MAAP’s specially commissioned program Video Ground considered the specificity of place in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, and presented a reflective point of departure from the predominately Thai program.
Explored through a range of media technologies, according to Teh the core programs “attempt to say something about the political crisis that unfolded around the bloodless coup d’état of September 19, 2006”. One film, Bangkok Tanks, includes an MSN messenger conversation providing a real-time account of tanks descending on Bangkok during the coup. A number of BEFF 5 films featured controversial engagements with Thai politics, the monarchy and democracy, while other films capture public political demonstrations. The cycle of coups, protests, dissolution and renewal of political parties, as seen in the political climax of September 2006, continues to this day.
The Bangkok Experimental Film Festival was organized by Kick the Machine and Project 304 and was originally held in Bangkok, Thailand, March 25-30 2008.