Thursday, March 25, 2010

Somkiat Vituranich and his 10-year struggle to make October Sonata

I served with writer-director Somkiat Vituranich (สมเกียรติ วิทุรานิช) on the short-film competition jury at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival. I was pretty thrilled to meet the man who had penned the screenplay to Ai-Fak (The Judgement), an engaging and compelling social drama.

Based on the book by Chart Korbjitti, it's one of my all-time favorites. Just wish it were available on English-subtitled DVD so I could watch it again. And so does Somkiat, who lamented the moves by the Thai studios to leave the English subs off their DVDs, meaning a serious and good movie like Ai-Fak simply won't be seen by many people outside Thailand because it isn't horror or martial-arts action.

Back in 2007, Somkiat had just finished co-directing the talking-dog comedy-drama Ma-Mha 4 Ka Krub (Mid-Road Gang) and told me he was working on a romantic drama.

"No talking dogs?"

"No talking dogs," he said.

I had no idea at the time he'd been working on the romantic drama that was to be October Sonata (Ruk Tee Ror Koi) for 10 years.

But he finally got to make it. Released in December by NGR and M Pictures, the tale of star-crossed romance and bitter class conflict in 1970s Thailand performed modestly at the box office, but it's been the toast of this year's movie-awards season, with Somkiet picking up screenwriter and/or director honors from the Starpics Awards and the Bangkok Critics Assembly. It is one of the leading nominees for the industry's top honor, the Subhanahongsa Awards, which will be given out on Sunday.

Ahead of the awards ceremony, CNNGo Bangkok continues its contributions to Asian Film Week with a profile of Somkiat. Here's a snip:

I submitted the script for 'October Sonata' to almost every major production company but they all rejected it because it was too serious,” says Somkiat. “I spent the next 10 years struggling to be a filmmaker, or you could say it was 10 years of begging for a second chance to direct a film, but every door was closed to me.”

Now go read the whole thing.

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