Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Concrete Clouds flies high at Subhanahongsa Awards

Producer Soros Sukhum accepts the Best Film award for Concrete Clouds, alongside Lee Chatametikool. Cast and crew, including producers Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Yonfan and Anocha Suwichakornpong are also present. Courtesy of FNFAT.

Despite the best efforts of the nominating body to steer voters toward more-commercial fare, the indie drama Concrete Clouds was the big winner at the 24th Subhanahongsa Awards, the Thai film industry's version of the Oscars.

Coming from a field dominated by mainstream studio entries,  Concrete Clouds (ภวังค์รักPhawang Rak), the feature debut by veteran indie film editor Lee Chatametikool was named Best Film, and it also took the Golden Swan trophy for best director.

The glitzy black-tie-optional ceremony was held on Sunday night at the Thailand Cultural Center in Bangkok.

The Best Film award was accepted by veteran indie Thai producer Soros Sukhum, alongside Lee. They were joined onstage by other cast and crew and the co-producers, indie Thai directors Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Anocha Suwichakornpong, who have worked closely with Lee in the past, and Hong Kong producer Yonfan.

Long in the works, Concrete Clouds is the story of a Thai currency trader who is forced to return from New York to Bangkok after the suicide of his father during the 1997 financial crisis. While dealing with his estranged younger brother, the trader seeks to rekindle romance with an old flame.

Going into the awards, Concrete Clouds had nine nominations, including screenplay and all four actor categories for the cast of Ananda Everingham, Janesuda Parnto, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk and Prawith Hansten. Prolific young starlet Apinya rounded out the trophy count for Clouds, winning best supporting actress for her performance as a lonely neighbor girl who has a fling with the younger brother.

Two from Concrete Clouds – best supporting actress winner Apinya Sakuljaroensuk and the best director winner Lee. Winning best actor Jirayu La-ongmanee from Chiang Khan Story poses for photos in the background. Courtesy of FNFAT

The remaining acting prizes were spread among a trio of other mainstream-industry films – Jarinporn Joonkiat as best actress for her disarming turn as a stubborn young woman in Nonzee Nimibutr's romantic drama Timeline Jodmai Khwam Songjam (Timeline จดหมาย-ความทรงจำ); former child star Jirayu La-ongmanee as best actor for his performance as a lovelorn young filmmaker in Yuthlert Sippapak's Chiang Khan Story (Tukkae Rak Pang Mak, ตุ๊กแกรักแป้งมาก); and screen veteran Pongpat Wachirabanjong as best supporting actor in the new stage-leaning adaptation of a famous Thai novel that had been made into a film before, Plae Kao (The Scar).

The leading Subhanahongsa nominee was the GTH studio's romantic drama, director Nithiwat Tharatorn's The Teacher's Diary (คิดถึงวิทยา, Kid Tueng Wittaya). With 13 nods in all, it won the most prizes, grabbing up six Golden Swan trophies, including screenplay, cinematography, editing and music.

And a new category this year sought to reflect the trendiness of documentaries screening in cinemas. Three were nominated – By the River, Nontawat Numbenchapol's examination of a Karen village hit by an environmental disaster; Somboon, Krisada Tipchaimeta's heartfelt look at an elderly man's efforts to care for his chronically ailing wife; and The Master by Nawapol Thamrongratanarit.

And, not surprisingly, the award went to The Master, which reflects on the film industry with an entertaining line-up of Thai film figures and critics who recalled their early cinematic education in the form of bootleg videos purchased from the infamous Chatuchak Market pirate vendor Mr. Van.

The lifetime achievement award was also handed out. This year it went to action star Sombat Methanee, who at one time or another claimed a world record for most filmed appearances. Getting his start in 1960s, he rose to be the Thai film industry's top leading man after the death of Mitr Chaibancha in 1970. Among his hundreds of films was the 1965 romantic comedy Sugar Is Not Sweet by Ratt Pestonji, the 1966 version of the historical battle epic Bang Rajan, the gritty 1970 action thriller Choompae and the 2000 Thai western Tears of the Black Tiger.

This was the second year for a new voting process instituted by the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand, which aims to make the Subhanahongsas more like the Academy Awards, in which members of the industry cast votes for films depending on their areas of expertise. Previous years had relied on a jury of critics and old industry hands nominating and selecting the winners. However, the niggling problem remains of not all Federation members actually getting out to see the films. There's more about that in a story today in The Nation.

Best documentary winner Nawapol Thamrongratanarit (The Master) and best actress winner Jarinporn Joonkiat from Timeline. Courtesy of FNFAT

  • Best Film – Concrete Clouds
  • Director – Lee Chatametikool, Concrete Clouds
  • Screenplay: Nithiwat Tharatorn, Thosaphol Thiptinnakorn, Suppalerk Ningsanon, Sophana Chaowiwatkool, The Teacher’s Diary
  • Actor – Jirayu La-ongmanee, Chiang Khan Story
  • Actress – Jarinporn Joonkiat, Timeline Jodmai Khwam Songjum
  • Supporting actor – Pongpat Wachirabanjong, Plae Kao
  • Supporting actress – Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Concrete Clouds
  • Cinematography – Narupon Chokkanapitak, The Teacher’s Diary
  • Film editing – Thammarat Sumethsupachok, Pongsakorn Chanchalermchai, The Teacher’s Diary
  • Original song – "Mai Tang Kan" by 25 Hours, The Teacher’s Diary
  • Recording and sound mixing: Richard Hocks, The Couple (รัก ลวง หลอน, Rak Luang Lon)
  • Original score – Hualampong Riddim, The Teacher’s Diary
  • Art direction – Akradej Kaewkote, The Teacher’s Diary
  • Costume design – Athit Thriakittiwat, Plae Kao
  • Makeup – Sirirat Jamfa, Hong Hoon (ห้องหุ่น, a.k.a. Crack My Skin)
  • Visual effects – The Post Bangkok, Sming
  • Documentary – The Master, Nawapol Thamrongratanarit

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