'Shadow' cast on Toronto film festival

Thai film's director expects to stir controversy

TORONTO -- Monks with guns -- that's how Raymond Phathanavirangoon, Southeast Asian programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival, describes Phawat Panangkasiri's "In the Shadow of the Naga," a dramatic thriller he expects to generate controversy here in September.

The Thai film, which portrays three criminals who dress as monks to retrieve money they had buried beneath a temple, is expected to offend devout Buddhists, Phathanavirangoon said of the world premiere.

"It's a commercial film, but it has monks that commit violence and use guns that they point at the heads of people," he said.

Thai censors typically bar screenings of films that portray monks or the monarchy in a disrespectful manner.

As it released its Asian and Spanish-language titles, Toronto also booked Japanese director Takeshi Kitano's "Achilles and the Tortoise" and Ryosuke Hashiguchi's "All Around Us" as well as "Machan," the debut feature from "Full Monty" producer Uberto Pasolini.

Also Toronto-bound is Yu Lik-wai's Brazil-China co-production "Plastic City," a rare collaboration between Asian and South American partners that portrays Japanese immigrants scrambling to do business in the underbelly of Sao Paulo.

On the Spanish-language front, the festival also will give a high-profile Roy Thomson screening to Daniel Burman's "Empty Nest," an Argentinean-Spanish-Italian-French co-production that stars Cecilia Roth and Oscar Martinez.