They present the image of a continent of filmmakers working across boundaries

Chukiat Sakweerakul is a fan of Bollywood’s dance numbers and “super pretty women.” But that’s not the only influence that Indian films have had on this Thai director.

The drama and acting style of Indian films have had a lot of influence on Thai films, said Chukiat, who was in the city as part of the Kochi International Film Festival. His film ‘Home’ was screened at the festival on Tuesday.

Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, star of the film, was also present at the festival. Witwisit had seen Bollywood film ‘Om Shanti Om’ when he was at the Fukoka film festival in Japan and loved the “dance sequences, colourful clothes and Shah Rukh Khan’s acting.” The duo took part in a discussion on Asian cinema at Saritha theatre as part of the festival on Tuesday.

What emerged at the open forum was the image of a continent of filmmakers working across boundaries to break the supremacy of Hollywood.

In fact, Thai director Prachya Pinkaew of Ong Bak fame was working on a new film with Indian artistes, including Katrina Kaif, said Lekha Shankar, writer, film enthusiast and programmer for film festivals, at the forum. She said Chukiat belong to the new age of Thai directors whose films were popular in local markets and foreign film festivals. Chukiat’s films have been huge hits in Thailand. His film ‘Love in Siam,’ also starring Witwisit, made Chukiat’s name familiar to international film circles.

Marzieh Meshkini, Iranian filmmaker and wife of director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and his daughters Samira and Hana were also present at the open forum. Meshkini spoke about cinema in different countries where she has worked. “Indian audience have a great passion and love for cinema,” she said.

The open forum also discussed the importance of film festivals. Samira said festivals such as the Kochi event gave directors and people a chance to learn from others directors and cinematic styles.

Cinema in countries of Asia influenced not only other cinemas, but other cultures too, said film critic I. Shanmughadas. He said film festivals gave viewers a chance to see films that did not conform to the Hollywood and Bollywood styles of storytelling.

Film critic Jyothi Venkatesh said Malayalam film directors skilfully blended artistic and commercial elements of filmmaking. He also said digital technology helped up and coming directors make movies by cutting costs.

Meanwhile, organisers said some of the films to be screened at the festival were held up at Customs.

But the people behind the scenes of the festival are not daunted by the problems. The now prestigious International Film Festival of Kerala also had humble beginnings, an organiser said.

While festival organisers are happy at the response to their product of their labours, festival-goers are just glad to able to see good films from India and abroad.