French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Beineix has urged European and Asian cinema to unite to offer an alternative to the commercial fruits of Hollywood's "industrial machine".
"In its search for instant profit, Hollywood has created such an irritation among the public that the time has come for European and Asian cinema to take action," Beineix told AFP in Bangkok.
"There has to be a common goal among European and Asian cinema, because Hollywood, in its pursuit of instant gratification, has gone too far. Cinema is not only a product for consumption," he said.
The director of Diva and Betty Blue was in Thailand to present his latest feature film, Mortal Transfer, at the fourth international film festival in Bangkok, which ended Sunday.
Ninety movies from 20 countries were shown over 10 days, all were directed by independent filmmakers and some had already received international acclaim at other festivals.
Organizers are hoping that the event will achieve the status of other prestigious independent film festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Singapore and Pusan, in South Korea.
"This is not a commercial festival, but a film festival for movie lovers, and to which the public has shown a massive interest," explained Lannig Stervinou, a cultural attache at the French embassy, who submitted four French films to the organizers.
In spite of the growing success in Bangkok of European and Asian film festivals, Thai multiplexes are still invaded each year by hundreds of American productions, generally of B-grade.
"There is an alternative to films mass produced simply for escapism," Beineix said, adding that Asia had a "desire and a real appetite" for "artistic" European and Asian films.
European films however, have yet to penetrate Asia, where American distribution networks still have a quasi monopoly, according to experts.
Conversely, Asian cinema has become hugely popular in the West with the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, by Taiwanese director Ang Lee, and In The Mood for Love, by Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai.
Mortal Transfer, a black comedy which was panned by the critics and spurned by movie-goers in France, was well received in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, Beineix said.
It tells the story of a jaded sex therapist who is bored by his clients' mundane lives until he dozes off listening to a woman rant about her husband and wakes to find she has been strangled.
Despite his criticism of Hollywood, Beineix has nevertheless agreed to direct an American film called Next Year which will star a "world famous actress" he said, without elaborating.
The director said he had been asked in the past to direct planned big Hollywood productions, such as Alien 4 and The Avengers. But this time, he said, the script was what convinced him to cross the line.
"I have decided to walk across the minefield. It is dinner with the devil." -- AFP
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