The Maestro_ Covid-era Thai Film, to Premiere in Top German Festival

Pandemic-era Thai Film The Maestro Premieres at Top German Festival

Siam Sinfonietta performance at Oldenburg International Film Festival lets young musicians stay ‘in residence’ during five-day event

Bangkok, July 21, 2021 — New Thai film – The Maestro: A Symphony of Terror – is scheduled to make its gala premiere at the prestigious Oldenburg International Film Festival in Lower Saxony, Germany, on September 19, 2021.

One of the few participating films shot during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is a collaboration between British director Paul Spurrier (The Forest, Eullenia) and Thai composer-conductor Somtow Sucharitkul. Spurrier also produced, shot, and edited the film, while Somtow co-produced, scored music and lyrics, in addition to also making a cameo as a surreal version of himself.

The film features on screen performances by Siam Sinfonietta, Thailand’s world-renowned youth orchestra that has played to accolades all over Germany, in addition to Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Musikverein, and other great concert venues around Asia and the Middle East.

Just six months ago, Somtow and Spurrier were sitting around searching for a project to work on together. The pandemic cancelled live concerts, putting many classical musicians out of work. No films were being made and crews and equipment sat idle. The composer and director were close friends and had worked together on Spurrier’s twisted serial killer mini-series, Eullenia, which is now available on Amazon Prime.

Somtow wondered if there was a way to create work for both their musicians and film crews, while Spurrier thought out loud that he had a movie treatment about a mad composer who abducts a youth orchestra to create a musical utopia in a crumbling old mansion, a paradise that quickly becomes a nightmare.

Somtow put on his screenwriting hat (not worn for decades) and wrote the script “almost overnight”. Director Spurrier shot the entire film, working behind the camera himself, to take advantage of lockdown filming that was allowed only under controlled conditions. Spurrier’s single request was that Somtow should play the mad composer himself; “hardly a stretch,” Somtow quipped.

The director and composer had previously bonded over 1970s and 80s B-movies and agreed to try and replicate that look and feel for The Maestro, with Spurrier devising a lighting and color scheme to match the lurid primary hues of 1970s Technicolor. Life on the set, apart from having to work constantly within COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, was an exciting journey of discovery for both musicians and film people. Kindred spirit forged close bonds together with seasoned actors giving lessons to young orchestra members while actors were being taught how to simulate playing instruments. Or as in the case of David Asvanond, who plays the protagonist as a rival conductor, he had to learn how to actually conduct.

Numerous renowned Thai actors were talked into appearing in the film, including Vithaya Parnsringarm, David Asvanond, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Soonthorn Meesri, and Michael Shaowanasai. Vithaya and Sahajak went straight from the set of The Maestro to shoot Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives on location in Australia.

There are also plans for Siam Sinfonietta to perform at the opening and closing of the Oldenburg International Film Festival and for the musicians to be ‘in residence’ during the five-day extravaganza, performing in small groups at various events and collaborating with a local youth orchestra for the gala finale.

Prior to the gala opening the film has been generating serious pre-festival buzz from both film and mainstream media. In a ‘hidden gem’ sidebar, the Hollywood Reporter called The Maestro, “pure midnight movie madness”.

London’s Backtrack said, “In between the glorious music and occasional murder, challenging current news topics were also featured in the story: the pandemic itself, parental issues, prostitution.”

San Francisco’s Classical Voice said, “Where there is imagination and determination, musicians can overcome even pandemic lockdowns.”

Torsten Neumann, director of the Oldenburg Festival, said, “We love it! An amazing and passionate achievement. Such a bold film, always touching the right tones.”

The 28th Oldenburg International Film Festival will be held from September 15 to 19, 2021 and has fostered its success with a strong commitment to innovative and independent filmmaking. It was named one of the top five indie festivals world-wide and called ‘The German Sundance’ by Variety, rated top five for independent films by American film critic Chris Gore in his Ultimate Film Festival Guide, and ranked as one of the Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the world by MovieMaker.

The Maestro will hit Thai theatres once safety regulations in Thailand surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are relaxed. Until then the trailer can be enjoyed here


Media contact:

Warin Pattarapatumthong (Audi)

TQPR Thailand

+66 9 6964 6428


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