Monday, June 23, 2014

Last Executioner hits mark for best actor in Shanghai

Opening next week Thai cinemas, The Last Executioner received a big boost from the Shanghai International Film Festival, which awarded its best actor prize to star Vithaya Pansringarm.

The awards were handed out on Sunday by a jury headed by Gong Li. Others on the panel were directors Im Sang-soo, Iwai Shunji, Liu Jie, Payman Maadi, Lone Scherfig and Sally Potter.

The big winner was Little England, a star-crossed period romance. It took Best Film, director and actress. Film Business Asia has a full report. Also in competition in Shanghai was another Thai film, Lee Chatametikool's Concrete Clouds. It was a nominee for the Asian New Talent Award.

The Last Executioner  (เพชฌฆาต, Petchakat) , directed by Tom Waller, was among 15 films nominated for Shanghai's top-prize Golden Goblet. The film is a biopic about Chavoret Jaruboon, Thailand’s last executioner to use a machine gun. A wild rock 'n' roller in his youth, Chavoret served at Bangkwang Prison, the "Bangkok Hilton", for 33 years, 19 as the executioner. Taking aim with a machine gun, he executed 55 prisoners – a job that had him struggling to reconcile the good and bad karma.

Recognizing the role's depth and intensity, the Shanghai win is a landmark honor for Vithaya, a relative newcomer as an actor, who got his start with supporting roles in such made-in-Thailand foreign features as The Prince and Me: The Elephant Adventure and The Hangover Part II. He made his breakthrough as a leading man as a policeman-turned-monk investigating a mystery in Waller's Mindfulness and Murder, which earned him a best actor prize at the ThrillSpy fest and a nomination at the Thailand National Film Awards. He followed that up with a major role in cult director Nicolas Winding Refn's Bangkok crime tale Only God Forgives, earning widespread praise for his portrayal of a cool-but-brutal vigilante ex-cop with seemingly supernatural powers.

The Last Executioner, covered in a recent New York Times article, opens in Thai cinemas on July 3.

Vithaya is flanked by his director Tom Waller, right, and Jim Sturgess from the film Eliza Graves.

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