'Altiplano' wins Bangkok top prize

'Independencia' wins South East Asian competition

HONG KONG -- "Altiplano," a Belgian-made drama set in the Peruvian Andes won the top prize Wednesday at the Bangkok International Film Festival.

It beat "The Search" -- a Chinese film also in a remote rural setting -- which collected a special jury prize and Canada's Oscar hopeful "I Killed My Mother".

Filipino films were widely present throughout the festival and two collected prizes in the separate South East Asian competition. Top prize was awarded to Raya Martin's "Independencia" while Sherad Anthony Sanchez' "Imburnal" was given a special mention.

Thailand's Pen-ek Ratanaruang collected a special jury prize for "Nymph," his sylvan anti-romantic drama that played in Cannes. James Lee's tale of two cousins "Call if You Need Me" from Malaysia also got a special mention. "Independencia" also collected the NETPAC jury award.

The festival was managed by the Federation of National Film Associations and Thai Film Directors' Association on behalf of funding body the Tourism Authority of Thailand on a budget slashed back to $1.2 million.

Thematically, the festival seemed still to be as schizophrenic as ever. It claimed to be increasingly focused on the SE Asia region, while also to be promoting "old Hollywood" glamour. And it scored own goals with poor organization, shabby press relations and belated ticket sales.

Despite that, audiences seemed enthusiastic and the seminar series at a riverside venue was well attended.