Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Relaunched Silpathorn Awards honor Kongdej

Award-winning writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee (คงเดช จาตุรันต์รัศมี) will add another piece of hardware to his trophy shelf – the Silpathorn Award – announced yesterday during a press conference at the Culture Ministry's new Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Centre in Bangkok.

The Silpathorn, honoring mid-career Thai contemporary artists, was inaugurated 10 years ago by the ministry's Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC). It was presented annually until 2010, and has been on hiatus for the past four years.

For Kongdej, the Silpathorn adds to his haul this year for his latest film, Tang Wong (ตั้งวง), an indie drama that critiqued contemporary Thai culture with a story about four teenage boys who have to learn a traditional dance in order to fulfill a vow to a spirit-house shrine. Made with the support of the OCAC, Tang Wong premiered in last year's Berlin fest, and went on to win several awards at home, including four Golden Swans at the Subhanahongsa Awards, as well as gongs from the Bangkok Critics Assembly and the Thai Director Association.

Tang Wong was Kongdej's second feature as an independent director, following his quirk-filled 2012 psychological drama P-047, which was also a big award winner. His 2003 debut feature, the coming-of-age sex comedy Sayew, was released by Sahamongkol Film International, as was his sophomore effort, the comedy-drama Cherm (Midnight My Love), in which comedian Petchtai Wongkamlao made a dramatic breakthrough as a lonely taxi driver who strikes up a relationship with a massage-parlor girl. Kongdej then jumped over to GTH for 2008's Kod (Handle Me with Care), about a three-armed man on a road trip with a large-breasted woman.

Kongdej has also penned numerous mainstream-industry screenplays, including 2004's weepy romance The Letter, Tony Jaa's lost-elephant adventure Tom-Yum-Goong, the amnesiac Ananda Everingham drama Me ... Myself, Nonzee Nimibutr's high-seas swashbuckler Queens of Langkasuka, Kantana Animation's Echo Planet (for which he also provided voice talent and an original song) and last year's teen horror Last Summer.

His latest efforts, Tang Wong and P-047, were independent, with Soros Sukhum as producer. Their next project is So Be It, which has been picked up by the new Thai indie outfit Mosquito Films Distribution.

Previous Silpathorn film honorees are Pen-ek Ratanruang (2004), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2005), Wisit Sasanatieng (2006), Thunska Pansittivorakul (2007), Nonzee Nimibutr (2008), Pimpaka Towira (2009) and Aditya Assarat (2010).

The Silpathorn Award's 10th anniversary was commemorated earlier this year with a performance series that included a screening of a shortened version of Thunska's The Terrorists.

According to The Nation, other Silpathorn Award honorees this year are conceptual artist Surasi Kusolwong, actress-playwright Jarunan Phantachat of B-Floor Theatre, architect Suriya Umpansiritatana, writer Rewat Panpipat, conductor Vanich Potavanich, typographer Pairoj Teeraprapar and product designer Chaiyut Plypetch.

Each winner receives 100,000 baht and a commemorative lapel pin.  The awards presentation ceremony will be held on July 17 along with an exhibition that will run through July 27.

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