One of the brightest stars in the history of Thai cinema and a legendary actress who helped def ine an era, Petchara Chaowarat is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival 2020. Petchara was born in Rayong province in 1943. Her birth name was Ek, the fourth child in the family. The turning point came when she moved to live in Bangkok with one of her elder sisters, and in 1961 another relative entered her in Maysa Hawai Beauty Contest. A movie scout saw her on the television broadcast and approached her to star in “Bantuek Rak Khong Pimchawee (Pimchawee’s Love Diary)”, opposite the famed actor Mitr Chaibancha. From then on she has been known as Petchara Chaowarat – the honey-eyed actress – and soon rose to superstardom and would go on to appear in over 300 f ilms in her 16-year career. Petchara and Mitr made up a powerful, indelible screen presence that captivated the entire country and def ined the success of Thai cinema’s 16mm era of the 1950s to early 1970s, when movies were truly an entertainment for the mass. Distributors everywhere would book a f ilm just because her name – and Mitr’s – appeared on the poster, and Petchara had to run around shooting more than one f ilm every day to satisfy the increasing demand of the producers and audiences. Petchara belongs to that rare breed of Thai stars who only appeared in movies and never on television. But her success came with a price: Petchara developed a condition of visual impairment in 1970, largely due to the long hours of exposure to glaring spotlight in f ilm shoot. When the symptom got worse, she decided to call it quits. Her last f ilm role was in “Ai Koon Thong” in 1978. The queen of the screen from half a century ago today lives a quiet life with her husband, singer and f ilm director Charin Nuntanakorn. Petchara remains a legend, a phenomenon and a great contributor to the evolution and history of Thai cinema. It is an honor of the festival to invite her back to the limelight to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
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