Monday, August 20, 2012

In memoriam: Charoen Iampungporn

Charoen is flanked by the cast and crew of The Red Eagle, with star Ananda Everingham in the stocking cap and director Wisit Sasanatieng wearing sunglasses.

While Hollywood mourns the death today of Top Gun director Tony Scott, the Thai film industry is in mourning over the loss of one its own.

Charoen Iampungporn (เจริญ เอี่ยมพึ่งพ), executive chairman of Five Star Production, died this morning. He was 62.

He took over Five Star, which was formed in 1973 and is one of Thai industry's oldest movie studios, after the death of his brother Kiat in 1981. He was president of the studio with nephews Kiatkamon and Kiattikul and niece Aphiradee as executives.

Charoen produced many of the studio's most-successful films, including Bhandit Rittakol's Boonchu series of teen romantic comedies in the late 1980s and early '90s and Bandit's 1995 childhood adventure drama Once Upon a Time ... In the Morning, which was among several Five Star productions submitted to the Oscars.

As executive producer, he helped preside over the "Thai New Wave" of the early 2000s, which saw Thai movies reach great acclaim on the international festival and market circuit. Among them were Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe, Wisit Sasanatieng's Citizen Dog and the Art of the Devil horror franchise.

Other recent Five Star movies include The Red Eagle, a reboot of the famous Thai action series of the 1960s, and Dark Flight 407, the first Thai feature to filmed in 3D.
According to news reports, Charoen died of a lung infection. Religious rites are being held for the next seven days at Wat That Thong.

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