Love without borders

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Thai-Myanmar film “TT & Donut” has its premiere in Yangon

THE FIRST-EVER cinematic collaboration between Myanmar and Thailand, “TT & Donut”, finally had its premiere last Sunday at the National Theatre of Yangon, drawing a celebrity crowd as well as such VIPs as the Chief Minister of Yangon, the counsellor (commercial) from the Royal Thai Embassy, Pakainay Leng-ee and ET, a fortune teller whose clients include Asia’s rich and powerful especially Thai politicians and high-ranking soldiers.

The event, which also featured a live broadcast for Myanmar TV, cost a small fortune to organise but the producers, Myanmar’s Golden Princess and Thai entertainment giant Bec Tero, felt it was well worth the price.

“TT& Donut” was introduced to the Thai media back in September at Paragon Cineplex as the first collaboration between Golden Princess and Bec Tero. The former had been looking for a Thai company with whom to work while Bec Tero was looking to expand its interests in Myanmar having successfully entered into a joint venture with Yangon-based media company and broadcaster Forever Group. Forever BEC Tero, as the company is known, produces TV shows and dramas for Myanmar’s MRTV-4 and Channel 7.

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But while the film has now enjoyed its premiere, it isn’t actually going on release until a little later. The latest schedule shows a Myanmar release either just before 2016 draws to a close or in January followed by a Thai release in March.

The film was originally to come out in Thailand in January but Golden Princess’s producer Thet Lwin preferred to delay out of respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is also hoping to open back home with a bang, feeling it will serve as a springboard for the film’s success in Thailand. And while the film will have a broad release, the focus, he says, will be on Myanmar communities living across Thailand in areas such as Mae Sot in Tak province, Samut Songkhram, Ranong and Bangkok.

The film stars Myanmar superstar Pyay Ti Oo as wealthy bachelor Ti Oo or TT who is on a visit to Thailand when he is accused of kidnapping Donut (Chattarika Sittiprom), the daughter of a powerful mobster who is about to marry a prominent businessman. Life becomes complicated when she loses her memory after an accident, and she and TT are forced to go the run. When her memory finally returns, she wonders which of the two men she truly loves.

The film is directed by Adsajan Sattagovit who worked closely with the Myanmar producers and actor Ti Oo to develop the story. As it is his first time working with a foreign production, Adsajan tried to find out what Myanmar’s cinephiles like, while taking into account cultural differences and the strict censorship in Myanmar.

“It’s a romantic comedy but due to cultural differences, it’s hard to deliver comedy through dialogue so we use gestures and situations. But I believeit can communicate with a Myanmar audience,” says the director.

The film was shot mostly in Thailand at the request of Myanmar’s main investor. Like Thai producers, who prefer to use the beautiful scenery of Japan and South Korea as the backdrops for their films, he wanted to give the film a more exotic feel.

Adsajan satisfied those wishes by using such unseen places as a sheep farm in Ratchaburi and a warehouse by the Chao Phraya river with the Rama IX Brigde as the backdrop.

The shoot itself was stressful for Chattarika, the second runner-up in the Miss Thailand World 2014 pageant, who made her acting debut with the film.

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“Ti Oo helped me a lot. He is very talented and charming both in front and behind the camera,” says the actress, who has since appeared in a few TV dramas including the popular soap “Nakhee”, which has just finished showing on Channel 3.

The 38-year-old Ti Oo enjoyed working with a Thai film crew, saying he found them more systematic than their peers in Myanmar. The actor, who started his career as a 17 year old, has since found himself working in English, South Korean, Malaysian and Indian productions.

“I just do my best and never dream high when working with foreign films, I just work step by step and take all the new experiences as a way of improving my acting skills,” he says.

Actor and writer Lu Min, who has served as the president of the Myanmar Motion Pictures Organisation, for the last four years, is confident the co-production will help the Myanmar film industry become more systematic in its approach thus opening itself up to the international market.

“Our film industry is in transition,” he says. “Technically we are pretty well up-to-date and screening in digital format, but other aspects still need improvement, such as censorship and venues.”

Currently there are around 70 cinemas for 60 million people and half of them are in Yangon, where ticket prices range from Bt30 to Bt100.

More than 100 movies are currently being made every year – and the figure is rising – but theatre capacity is such that cinemas can only allocate showtime to around 20 films and the others have to wait in line. Censorship is another problem and Lu Min has been in recent discussions with the authorities to ease the rules. “Producers find it very difficult to work and often have to allocate bigger budgets to re-shoot the scenes the censors don’t like,” he says, adding that these challenges must be overcome if filmmaking is to develop,

Lu Min says he still loves acting and writing but that he is too busy as MMPO president to help fellow filmmakers.

“I think collaboration will help us to improve not just the quality of our films but also our marketing. Our film market is quite small and I would really like to see a bigger variety in stories and genres and an increase in movie theatres. Only then will we be able to expand,” he says.

Source: TheNation

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Disneyland Shanghai

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For the Disney Fans: Shanghai opened over a small three months the doors of a new Disney park. Wondering how it will look like? We have the first pictures!

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On the photographs that can be seen are made from the air, the to build Disneyland Shanghai is nearing completion after more than five years.

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The amusement park has like all other Disney-parks the castle of Sleeping Beauty, but also Star Wars rides, a roller coaster and a special Pirates of the Caribbean island.

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Shanghai Disneyland will open on June 16. The first tickets for the theme park last Monday went on sale. Tickets to the park are not cheap. A ticket will cost in the high season $ 77. For children will be $ 58.

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Disney’s Zootopia features Malaysia in exclusive art

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Disney’s latest film Zootopia is coming to SouthEast Asia in more ways than one.

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The movie from Walt Disney Animation Studio – which opens in Malaysia on Feb 25 – boasts of work by artists hailing from all over the world including Singapore and Thailand.

Together with directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the artists worked on the film for many months. Zootopia tells the story of a city filled with various animals in which rookie cop Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) – the first bunny on a police force – crosses paths with a scam artist fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).

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In line with the release of the film, an exclusive special series of South-East Asia-themed art has been drawn by Fawn Veerasunthorn, a Thai story artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Veerasunthorn was responsible for visualising the script into panels of drawings for Zootopia.

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This exclusive art features drawings of the movie’s main characters, Nick and Judy, with local iconic landmarks in Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

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DisneyLand is coming to Laos

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Laos-ASEAN International Trade Company has injected over US$500 million in building the biggest tourist complex of ASEAN in Nongpene area, Hadxayfong District, Vientiane Capital, according to Lao News Agency.

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Watch out Thailand, your about to miss out on some big tourism business…..

“The construction aims to ensure the integration into ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, and it is expected to draw a large sum of revenues to the country in the future,” General Director of Laos-ASEAN International Trade Company Thanakit Souvannavong said at a religious ceremony before starting the construction on Thursday.

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“Nongpene construction project to be implemented on 150 ha will be developed as the biggest tourist site of ASEAN in Laos.

The project will build a five-star hotel, a golf court, a man-made lake, an international shopping centre, a Disneyland Park, ASEAN style houses, an entertainment place and a tourist complex, which is expected to complete in 2020.

The project will commence constructing next month, which will build a Disneyland park, man-made lake, an ASEAN development centre, an international shopping centre and a 73-ha golf court.”

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Khaosan Road, #Bangkok

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Khaosan Road or Khao San Road (Thai: ถนนข้าวสาร) is a short street in central Bangkok, Thailand.
It is in the Banglamphu area of (Phra Nakhon district) about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

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“Khaosan” translates as “milled rice”, a reminder that in former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market. In the last 20 years, however, Khaosan Road has developed into a world famous “backpacker ghetto”. It offers cheap accommodation, ranging from “mattress in a box” style hotels to reasonably priced 3-star hotels. In an essay on the backpacker culture of Khaosan Road, Susan Orlean called it “the place to disappear”.It is also a base of travel: coaches leave daily for all major tourist destinations in Thailand, from Chiang Mai in the north to Ko Pha Ngan in the south, and there are many relatively inexpensive travel agents who can arrange visas and transportation to the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

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Khaosan shops sell handcrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, pirated CDs, DVDs, a wide range of fake IDs, used books, plus many useful backpacker items.

During late evening, the streets turn into bars and music is played, food hawkers sell barbecued insects, exotic snacks for tourists, and there are also locals flogging ping pong shows.

There are several pubs and bars where backpackers meet to discuss their travels. The area is internationally known as a center of dancing, partying, and just prior to the traditional Thai New Year (Songkran festival) of 13-15 April, water splashing that usually turns into a huge water fight. One Thai writer has described Khaosan as “…a short road that has the longest dream in the world”.

A Buddhist temple under royal patronage, the centuries-old Wat Chana Songkram, is directly opposite Khaosan Road to the west, while the area to the northwest contains an Islamic community and several small mosques.

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