Palm takes shot at ‘Life’

Fest-friendly Thai drama stars Tadanobu

NEW YORK — Continuing its association with cutting-edge Thai filmmaking after horror hit “The Eye,” Palm Pictures has acquired North American rights to “Last Life in the Universe,” director Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s romantic drama about a bored Bangkok hooker and a suicidal Japanese librarian.

Preemed at the Venice and Toronto fests to strong critical response, the film is scheduled to screen at the London, Vancouver and Pusan festivals this fall and is Thailand’s official submission for 2004 foreign-language Oscar consideration.

Pic stars popular Japanese thesp Asano Tadanobu, who drew actor kudos in the Venice fest’s Upstream competition and also stars in Miramax pickup “Zatoichi,” by Takeshi Kitano.

Shot by regular Wong Kar-wai collaborator Christopher Doyle, “Last Life” is a poetic quasi-romance about two lost people who connect across a cultural divide just as their worlds seem on the verge of falling apart.

Pic was produced by Nonzee Nimibutr, Duangkamol Limcharoen and Wouter Barendrecht, co-chairman of Fortissimo Film Sales.

Filmart deal

Barendrecht and Fortissimo international sales director Winnie Lau closed the deal for North American and Caribbean rights at the recently wrapped Hong Kong Filmart meet with Palm’s head of acquisitions and production David Koh. Palm previously acquired “The Eye” and Chinese helmer Tian Zhuangzhuang’s “Springtime in a Small Town” from Fortissimo.

” ‘Last Life in the Universe’ is a remarkable achievement,” Koh said. “We have long been fans of Pen-ek’s films, and still nothing prepared us for the sheer brilliance and accomplishment of this work. We’re excited to continue working with Fortissimo on bringing Thai film to America.”

“This is a very important film to us as it is the first produced under the Bohemian Films banner, our production company with Fran and Kaz Kuzui,” Barendrecht added. “We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Palm Pictures after their successful release of ‘The Eye.’ ”

Palm is planning a summer 2004 theatrical release.

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