The history of the World Film Festival of Bangkok started in 1998. That year, the Nation Multimedia Group organized Thailand’s first film festival to promote film appreciation and cinematic art in the country. It was named the Bangkok Film Festival. The event was co-organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. However, in 2003 the festival’s organizers split. The Tourism Authority of Thailand became the main organizer and renamed the event to the Bangkok International Film Festival, while the National Multimedia Group launched the World Film Festival of Bangkok.
The first edition of the World Film Festival of Bangkok was held from October 17–26, 2003. Its program featured over 18 films from different countries. The festival showcased works by both up-and-coming filmmakers and masters of cinema. Its Retrospective section presented the films by Satyajit Ray, Fritz Lang, Werner Herzog and Jean Cocteau.
The festival has considerably expanded it program over the years. Every year it showcases about 80 films from Europe, Latin America and Asia (primarily Southeast Asia). Its program includes full-length feature films, short films, documentaries, animated films and experimental productions. The World Film Festival of Bangkok offers a special focus on independent films by emerging filmmakers. Along with film screenings, the program features seminars, workshops and other events for industry professionals.
The World Film Festival of Bangkok is a competitive festival. Its professional jury awards prizes in several categories including the Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, etc (the categories might change from year to year). Some films are awarded with special jury awards. The film with the highest attendance receives the festival’s People’s Choice Award. The 2004 edition of the festival hosted the inaugural Lotus Award ceremony. This prize is given to people who have devoted their careers to the film industry. The first recipient of the award was Thai director Dokdin Kanyamarn.