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Candians seek Thai ties

Delegation discusses bilateral film treaty

BANGKOK — A Canadian government delegation met here Dec. 9 with Thai government officials and film producers to discuss establishing a bilateral film treaty.

Led by Anne Malepart from the Canadian High Commission in Singapore, the delegation was cautiously optimistic after the day of meetings.

“We were encouraged to travel to Bangkok after speaking with Jira Maligool and Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, whose ‘Mekhong Full-Moon Party’ world preemed at the Vancouver Intl. Film Festival in September,” explains Christine Z. Lim of Asia Pacific Initiatives for Telefilm Canada, who was a member of the delegation.

Canada has 62 film and television bilateral treaties around the world including eight in the Asia Pacific region. It is currently negotiating a treaty with Malaysia and is in discussions with the Indian government.

“The treaty is a framework, a tool used as an instrument to facilitate co-financing of film, television, documentaries and animation,” says producer Andrew Ooi, also a member of the Canadian delegation.

Over the last two years, 100 productions were co-produced in excess of C$700 million ($448.6 million). Of that amount, about $64 million has gone into animation and documentary co-production with Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and the Philippines, according to Ooi.

Sasithara Pichaichannarong, director general of Thailand’s newly created Office of Tourism Development, directed Film Office director Sidhichai Jayant to exchange the initial paperwork with the Canadian government indicating interest on Thailand’s part. According to Jayant, this would be Thailand’s first bilateral film agreement.

“While I am not the one to decide, next year our government will host the APEC meetings, and it would be a wonderful treaty to highlight the event,” Pichaichannarong says.

Carolyn Knobel from Canada’s embassy in Bangkok cautions the Thai government can work slowly and support also is needed from Thailand’s private film sector for such an initiative.

“We will return and contact Canadian producers to assess their interest in cooperation with the Thai industry,” says Lim. “Both sides must build a business case for a treaty to move forward.”

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