Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tang Wong and Mary trump Pee Mak at Subhanahongsa Awards

Kongdej is happy. He won best director and screenplay for Tang Wong, which also got best picture and best supporting actor. Nation photo by Thanachai Pramarnpanich.

The indie films Tang Wong and Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy scored a major upset at the 23rd Thailand National Film Association Awards (รางวัลภาพยนตร์แห่งชาติ สุพรรณหงส์) on Sunday night at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya, winning four Golden Swan trophies each and leaving the leading nominee, the blockbuster ghost romance Pee Mak Phra Khanong, almost empty-handed.

Tang Wong, which had 10 nominations, swept up the Subhanahongsa Awards for Best Picture, director and screenplay for writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee. The satiric teenage comedy-drama looked at the eroding state of Thai culture with its story about four schoolboys learning a traditional dance in return for their prayers being answered at a spirit-house shrine. One of the film's four young stars, Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, won best supporting actor for his role as a table-tennis star looking for a way out of his life in a rundown Bangkok apartment block. The film premiered at last year's Berlin film fest,and also screened at the Hong Kong International before having a Thai theatrical run. It also met critical acclaim at other fests, including Luang Prabang.

Another teenage comedy-drama, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy, took awards for actress and supporting actress, Patcha Poonpiriya and Chonnikan Netjui, who portrayed best friends. It had also been nominated for 10 awards. Written and directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy is the quirky story of a sad, angst-filled boarding-school pupil and was based on 410 consecutive messages from a Bangkok schoolgirl's Twitter stream. The low-budget project was generated out the Venice Biennale College and premiered at last year's Venice film fest. It had a limited run in Thai cinemas, but was a cult hit thanks to an engaging social-media campaign masterminded by Nawapol. It also won awards for film editing and cinematography.

Pee Mak, the GTH studio's romantic comedy based on the famous ghost legend of Mae Nak Phra Khanong, was the leading nominee, with nods in 13 of the 16 categories. It shattered box-office records last year with estimated earnings of more than 1 billion baht. But it won only one award – for art direction by veteran Akradej Kaewkote, who had also been the production designer on another Mae Nak adaptation, 1999's Nang Nak.

Best actor went to soap-opera leading man Nadech Kugimiya for studio M-Thirtynine's wartime romance Koo Kam, which was released around the same time as Pee Mak and took a beating at the box office. It also won for costume design.

The nominees were selected in a controversial new system instituted by Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand president Visute Poolvoralaks. The so-called "R+O" system combined open voting from members of the film industry balanced by the usual jury panel of critics, academics and experts as "referees". The federation had hoped to involve some 1,500 members of the film industry, who would weigh in on their areas of expertise. However, many hadn't actually seen the films, so only about half participated in the first round of voting. Another vote took place after the nominees were announced, and only around 300 cast ballots, according to The Nation today.

Other winners included Tony Jaa's 3D martial-arts actioner Tom-Yum-Goong 2, which picked up the only two awards it was nominated for – visual effects and sound.

Former Federation president Jaruek Kaljaruek, an executive at the Kantana studio, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here's the list of winners:

  • Best Picture: Tang Wong
  • Director: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
  • Screenplay: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, Tang Wong
  • Actor: Nadech Kugimiya, Koo Kam
  • Actress: Patcha Poonpiriya, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Supporting Actor: Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, Tang Wong
  • Supporting Actress: Chonnikan Netjui, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Cinematography: Pairach Khumwan, Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Film Editing: Chonlasit Upanigkit Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
  • Recording and Sound Mixing: Ram Indra Sound Mixing Studio, Tom-Yum-Goong 2
  • Original Song: "Yuewya", Cin Thosaporn Achawanantakul, Last Summer
  • Original Score: Chatchai Pongprapapan, Jan Dara: The Finale
  • Art Direction: Akradej Kaewkote, Pee Mak Phra Khanong
  • Costume Design: Vorathon Krisanakalin, Koo Kam
  • Makeup: Arporn Meebangyang, Thongsuk 13
  • Visual Effects: Surreal Studio Company and Thossaporn Poonnart, Tom-Yum-Goong 2
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Jaruek Kaljaruek
  • Popular Vote Awards: actor Nadech Kugimiya and actress Suthata Udomsilp

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