Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bitter/Sweet win for Thai-Hollywood romance in Houston

The Thai-U.S. production Bitter/Sweet won two prizes at the 42nd WorldFest-Houston International Film and Video Festival, which wrapped up on Sunday.

Directed by Jeff Hare, Bitter/Sweet won a Grand Remi Award for Best Theatrical Feature, and a Golden Remi for best director. The film made its premiere at the Houston fest.

The romance features a cast of Thai stars stars and Hollywood players, led by "Mamee" Napakpapha Nakprasitte as a headstrong public-relations executive who at first clashes but ultimately falls in love with an American coffee buyer, played by Kip Pardue.

Other actors are James Brolin, Spencer Garrett and Laura Sorenson as well as Akara Amarttayakul, Pakkaramai Potranan and Kalorin Nemayothin. Pop singer Tata Young makes a brief cameo.

Bitter/Sweet was filmed last year in the little-seen coffee plantations of Krabi in southern Thailand. It's produced by Urs T. Brunner's Angel and Bear Productions and U.S.-based Capital Motion Pictures and Jon Karas.

Brunner is a Bangkok-based Swiss businessman who is chief executive of the Thailand-based coffee brand BonCafe. The idea behind Bitter/Sweet was to highlight Thailand's coffee-growing regions in the same way that the Hollywood buddy comedy Sideways spotlighted California's wine country.

Brunner says he plans to release the film in Thailand later in the year, and is hoping for a slot at a film festival in Bangkok.

Here's what he had to say about the Houston festival awards, according to Lekha J. Shankar, whose article about the film's awards appears on page 7 of today's Daily Xpress:

I can't describe in words how happy and thrilled I am that Bitter/Sweet won these two top awards! This is the third-oldest U.S. film festival, and the very place where directors like Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone and Ang Lee won their first awards for creative excellence. For me, Thailand won here tonight, beating entries from 33 countries! This award is for the beautiful country, people, and Thai cast of the film.”

From left, producer Jon Karas, director Jeff Hare, producer Urs Brunner, actress Laura Sorenson and producer Mark Lane.

The full list of awards is at the festival website (XLS file).

Update: Lekha says the producer told her that the screening was attended by a large number of Thai-Americans, who seemed to enjoy the film a lot.

(Via Daily Xpress and e-mail from Lekha. Thanks Lekha!)

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