Note: Thai censor law was promulgated in 1930, before the country changed from absolute monarchy to constituional system in 1932. It has still been used even to date. Some information here.
Apichatpong gets full support from local big names
In an urgent seminar held yesterdays afternoon (23 April), a bunch of local big names rallied in supporting Apichatpong and freeing Thai cinema movement. Joining the panel, Prachya Pinklaew (Ong Bak and Tom Yam Goong, President of Thai Film Directors Association), Jeeranan Pitpreecha (SouthEast Asian Writers Award laureate) and Pod Moderndog (famous singer and artist), were among the speakers. Female filmmaker Pimpaka Tohveera moderated the panel.
Seen on the participant lists included Nonzee Nimibutr, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Manob Udomdej (1970s new-waver), Adirek Wattaleela (better known as Uncle famous producer-cum-director), Thanit Jitnukul (Bangrajan, etc), Udom Udomroj (producer-cum-director), as well as Bandit Thongdee (Mercury Man).
The venue used the space of House of Rama, the arthouse theatre operated by the countrys biggest studio Sahamongkol Film. The seminar is one of the latest movements that are coming up in these weeks, right after the public reaction to the censorship. Two more academic seminars are being held at two leading mass communication universities of Thammasat and Chulalongkorn.
20/4/2007 Thaicinema.org called the censor office for the updated information in returning the Syndromes print. An officer repeated the statement over and over, " It is now in the legal procedure."
18/4/2007 Prince Chatreechalerm Yukol, Thai Film Directors Association (led by director Prachaya Pinkaew), Federation of National Film Association of Thailand (represented by Chaiwat Saengthong), as well as academics (led by Prof Banjong Kosalwat), have joined together in submitting a letter to Dr Choochai Sukwong, the sub-committee in drafting the new permanent constitution. They asked for the inclusion of film as a form of mass media, in the same way as newspaper, and broadcasting like radio and television. - Matichon 19 April 2007
****note: Under this new law, mass media can not be controlled under any governmental authorities. (Anchalee)
Free Thai Cinema Movement Petition Statement
by Apichatpong Weerasethakul with Bioscope, the Thai Film Foundation, Thai Film Directors Association, and Alliances. I am saddened by what has happened to my film. However,this is not the venue to try to make SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY shown in Thai theaters. It is not my intention to use this opportunity to promote my work.But, it is time to seriously think about what is going on with our censorship laws, so that the next generation of filmmakers will not face the same problems as us, and so that the Thai audiences can truly achieve a freedom of choice. It is time we discuss whether all films, before being released, should be seen by the Buddhist council, doctors council, teachers council,labor council, the army, pet lovers group, taxi union, representatives from other foreign countries etc? Or, is it easier to turn our nation into a Fascist state so that we can live in harmony and dont have to waste time talking about democracy? The system of the Thai Board of Censors needs to be evaluated. Their members' relevancy and efficiency needs to be questioned, and we should decide whether the laws should be changed.I would like to ask you to reflect on the censorship practices in our country and to provide us with advice at http://www.petitiononline.com/nocut/petition.htmlLater on, this Petition will be submitted to the Thai government.Your support will be a great contribution to our fight for one of our most basic rights - that of freedom.I am grateful for your time and your participation. Thank you very much. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Thai director cancels film's local release
KONG RITHDEE / 11 April 2007 - Bangkok Post
The director of an internationally acclaimed Thai film has cancelled the local release of the much-anticipated movie after the censors yesterday insisted that four ``sensitive'' scenes be cut.
The film, Sang Satawat (Syndromes and a Century), is directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and tells the story of doctors at a rural hospital.
The scenes the board found objectionable show a young monk playing a guitar, a group of doctors drinking whisky in a hospital basement, a doctor kissing his girlfriend in a hospital locker room, and two monks playing with a radio-controlled flying saucer.
``The scenes involving doctors are inappropriate,'' said Supawat Pothong, a representative of the Medical Council who attended the censorship board meeting yesterday.
``Drinking whisky in a hospital is not proper conduct by medical professionals,'' he said.
``Sure, doctors can kiss their girlfriends. Doing that at home is all right, but doing it in a hospital is inappropriate.''
Mr Apichatpong, whose parents were both doctors, is currently in the US.
He emailed the Bangkok Post, saying he has no intention of cutting those scenes and will withdraw the film.
``I, as a filmmaker, treat my works as I do my own sons or daughters,'' he wrote. ``I don't care if people are fond of them or despise them, as long as I created them with my best intentions and efforts.
``If these offspring of mine cannot live in their own country for whatever reason, let them be free. There is no reason to mutilate them in fear of the system. Otherwise there is no reason for one to continue making art.''
Saeng Satawat premiered at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival in August and went on to garner praise and awards from audiences, critics and at film festivals around the world.
On March 21, it won the award for best film editing at the inaugural Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.
It was scheduled to open on two screens in Bangkok on April 19.
``I don't know how to convince [the censors] that these scenes are not as damaging as many scenes in other Thai films,'' said Pantham Thongsang, the film's co-producer.
Critics and parents recently expressed concern about the heavy use of vulgar language and rude behaviour in films like The Bodyguard 2 and Hor Taew Tak, which attracted young audiences and were passed by censors.
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