Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mindfulness and Murder wins three awards at Thrill Spy

Back in June, DeWarrenne Pictures producer-director Tom Waller told me about his new project, Mindfulness and Murder, a mystery thriller featuring a monk detective.

Well, it's done, and it's already making the rounds of film festivals.

DeWarrenne Pictures e-mailed a press release this morning, with the latest news about the "controversial new Thai monk movie". Here's the press release:

A murder mystery set in a Bangkok temple has won three awards for its filmmakers at an international film festival in the United States earlier this month.

Satit-suek-sop (Mindfulness and Murder) is based on a book by Bangkok-based writer Nick Wilgus, who puts a new spin on the clerical detective genre with his "Father Ananda mystery" novel series.

Starring Vithaya Pansringarm in his first lead role, the Thai language film also features veteran Thai actor Jaran "See Tao" Petcharoen, Prinya "Way" Intachai of Thaitainium, Charina "Kaew" Sirisinha (ZaZa), Natalie Glebova (Miss Universe 2005) and Abhijati "Muek" Jusakul in his last Thai film role. The veteran actor died on September 6 at the age of 54.

Selected to show as a special preview for the Closing Film at Thrill Spy, a festival dedicated to the thriller/spy genre, Mindfulness and Murder won a Best Actor Award for lead actor Vithaya Pansringarm and Best Director for Tom Waller.

Born in Bangkok to a Thai Buddihst mother and Irish Catholic father, producer/director Tom had a unique dual perspective on the story. "When I received the script from Nick I was immediately excited about making a film version of this gripping story - after all, how often do you see a film about a monk detective!"

"Pu" Vithaya, who had worked with Tom before playing King Saryu in the Hollywood production of The Prince and Me: The Elephant Adventure, was at first reluctant to take on the lead role after hearing about the story, which deals with organized crime in the monastery, fake monks, corrupt cops, drug-dealing and other taboos. But after reading the script, Pu was immediately excited about taking on the challenging role of Father Ananda, a former homicide detective. "I saw this project as an opportunity to send a message and make people realize how Buddhism in Thailand is being abused. By solving the crimes and finding the murderer, Father Ananda is protecting the Buddhist Sangha".

Shot in 2.35:1 cinemascope, the film also won Best Cinematography for Bangkok-based Australian DP Wade Muller, who went on to work with Ong-Bak Thai director Prachya Pinkaew on his English language debut Elephant White earlier this year.

Later this month, Mindfulness and Murder will be shown at the first Cambodia International Film Festival in Phnom Penh.

Both Tom and Pu hope that Thai audiences will get to see the film soon. "Nick wrote a trilogy of novels, so we hope that if audiences like the first film, Father Ananda will also return for a sequel!"

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