Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thailand, Philippines share Frozen's Oscar glory

Perhaps not since 1985, when The Killing Fields was at the Oscars, has Southeast Asia had as big a presence as it did at the Academy Awards. This year, the buzz was about Cambodia landing its first nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and the best documentary feature nominee The Act of Killing, covering the work of the Indonesian anti-communist death squads of the 1960s.

But when all the golden statuettes were handed out, it was the Philippines and Thailand that were celebrating, both thanks to connections with the Best Animated Feature winner, Disney's Frozen.

Pinoy pride kicked in when "Let It Go" from Frozen was picked as Best Original Song. The hit track, performed in the film by Wicked Broadway star Idina Menzel (a.k.a. Adele Dezeem), was written by Filipino-American Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon) and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

And then a smiling young bespectacled Thai woman turned up in the social media holding the Best Animated Feature Oscar for Frozen and the image went viral. She's Fawn Veerasunthorn, who works as a story artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank. A graduate of Mahidol University in Thailand and the Columbus College of Art and Design, her credits also include work on Pink Panther and Pals, the Despicable Me short Minion Madness and storyboarding a Road Runner cartoon for Looney Tunes. More of her work can be seen at Bluefoot Studios.

Although the trophy went to Frozen directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer Peter Del Vecho, in spirit, the entire crew shares in the Oscar glory. And according to Soopsip in The Nation, that not only includes Fawn, but two other Thais as well, visual-development artist Sunny Apinchapong and effects apprentice Rattanin Sirinaruemarn.

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