‘Freelance’ sweeps the Swans

Indie director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and his worker drama clean up at the Subhanahongsa awards

It had been widely tipped to do well at Thailand’s version of the Oscars but even the pundits were surprised to see Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s comedy-drama “Freelance Ham Puay Ham Phak Ham Rak More” (“Heart Attack”) win eight of the 17 prizes at the Subhanahognsa Awards on Sunday night, taking Golden Swan trophies for Best Film, director, actor, actress and supporting actress.

Kongdej Jaturanrassamee’s “Snap” also did well, sharing honours for screenplay and also swinning for recording and sound mixing and art direction.

Nawapol is no stranger to the Subhanhongsa Awards, since his two actresses in the low-budget film “Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy” picked up prizes two years ago.

“I’m thrilled! I know I was very self indulgent and a real stickler for the details while I was working, so thanks to all my friends for understanding what I was doing,” Nawapol told the audience.

“Freelance” saw the indie writer-director crossing to the mainstream, and he was quick to express his appreciation to studio GTH, which released “Freelance”, his first directorial effort with a major Thai studio.

It was Nawapol’s night and the young director spent the evening walking between the audience and the stage as he collected the Golden Swans for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, sharing the latter award with Kongdej. And in even better news for Nawapol, “Freelance” also came home with the ABC Award for the most entertaining film from the Osaka Asian Film Festival, also held on Sunday night, but which he had left earlier in order to attend the Bangkok event.

After a few teething troubles last year, the new voting system introduced by the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand appeared to work better this time round though there were two winners in a couple of categories. In addition to the screenplay prize, the jury and popular vote counts also awarded Best Song to “Ther Dern Khao Ma” from Wisit Sasanatieng’s horror drama “Runpee” and to the number “”Sud Sai Ta” featured in “The Down”, a heart- warming documentary about people with Down Syndrome.

The 44 voters handpicked by the federations were divided into five groups – producer and director, actor, narration, production design and sound, and picture and computer-graphic effects – with each making their choice from among the five nominees in each category. To that were added the votes of all 1,700 registered voters working in part of the film industry for each category.

Nawapol’s actors were also consecrated at the ceremony, with Sunny Suwanmethanont, Davika Hoorne and Violette Wautier winning Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

For Sunny, who plays Yoon, the freelance graphic designer who works so hard that he gets sick, it was a first and he expressed delight at his win, dedicating the award to his fellow actors.

Davika, who plays the young doctor treating Yoon, seemed stunned at her win, not least because she is now working as a freelance actress herself, having terminated her contract with TV Channel 7 at the end of last year.

“I am very honoured to receive the award. My thanks go to GTH for giving me the opportunity and also to Nawapol for all his help, I don’t think my acting would have been good enough without the support and assistance of the talented crew,” Davika said modestly.

For the supporting actor award, voters went to another film, giving the prize to young Ingkarat Damrongsakkul for what was essentially a leading role in “P’Chai My Hero”, aka “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)”.

Urupong Raksasad’s “Phleng Khong Khao” (“The Songs of Rice”) was recognised with both Best Documentary and Best Cinematography. Urupong is no stranger to the awards, having won Best Director and the Best Cinematography award for previous film “Sawan Banna” (“Agrarian Utopia”) in 2010.

Held at the Siam Pic-Ganesha Theatre in Siam Square One, the award ceremony offered little in the way of entertainment, the result perhaps of budgetary constraints. In a strange twist, singers from TV talent shows performed not the five nominated songs, which would have been logical, but a completely different repertoire.

And the audience was in for yet more dry lectures from the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, which apparently provides financial support for the ceremony.

Last year saw the ETDA’s senior director, former UHT boy band member Ratthasart Korrasud, come on stage to talk about online security. This year he was replaced by an animated video on how to use the social networks and the Internet to protect ourselves from online crime. And if that weren’t enough, halfway through the show the audience was treated by a performance by children dancing to a song whose lyrics had been changed to talk about online security.

AWARD WINNERS

Here are th e winners in the 25th Thailand National Film Association Awards:

  • Best Film: “Freelance Ham Puay Ham Phak Ham Rak More”
  • Best Director: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, “Freelance”
  • Best Actor: Sunny Suwanmethanon, “Freelance”
  • Best Actress: Davika Hoorne, “Freelance”
  • Best Supporting Actor: Ingkarat Damrongsakkul, “P’Chai My Hero”
  • Best Supporting Actress: Violette Wautier “Freelance”
  • Best Screenplay: Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, “Snap”, and Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, “Freelance”
  • Best Film Editing: Chonlasit Upanigkit, “Freelance”
  • Best Cinematography: Uruphong Raksasad, “Phleng Khong Khao” (“The Songs of Rice”)
  • Best Recording and Sound Mixing: Sarawut Phantha, Akrichalerm Kalayanamitr, “Snap”
  • Best Art Direction: Rasiguet Sookkarn, “Snap”
  • Best Original Score: Hualampong Riddim, “Freelance”
  • Best Song: “Ther Dern Khao Ma” from “Runpee and “Sud Sai Ta” from “The Down”
  • Best Documentary: “The Songs of Rice”
  • Best Costume Design: Sukanya Maruangpradit, “F Hiliare”
  • Best Make Up Effects: Methaphan Pitithunyapat, “Phee Ha Ayothaya”
  • Best Visual Effects: Alternat Studio, “Runpee”
  • Best Documentary: “Songs of Rice”
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Jarun “See Thao” Petchjaroen
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