Monday, 16 April 2018

About Heroes

Bangkok Joyride I
Bangkok Joyride II
Cinema Oasis, the arthouse cinema that opened last month in Bangkok, will begin a season of political documentaries this month, after the Songkran holiday. The About Heroes season features Bangkok Joyride (บางกอกจอยไรด์), a two-part documentary directed by Ing K. The film is a record of the PDRC's protests in 2013 and 2014 against former prime ministers Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra.

Part one, How We Became Superheroes (เมื่อเราเป็นยอดมนุษย์), covers the first stage of the protest, when Suthep Thaugsuban campaigned against a proposed amnesty bill. The amnesty was a blatant attempt to exonerate Thaksin of his corruption charges, and was unanimously rejected by the Senate. Emboldened after defeating the amnesty bill, Suthep called for the dissolution of parliament and the establishment of an appointed government.

Part two of the documentary, Shutdown Bangkok (ชัตดาวน์ประเทศไทย), covers the escalation of the PDRC's protests. When Suthep was Deputy Prime Minister during the 2010 protests against his government, he said: "if they violate the laws, such as blocking roads and intruding into government offices, we will have to disperse the protesters." However, as leader of the PDRC, he used precisely the tactics that he had previously condemned: occupying government buildings and blocking streets. His protesters, following the playbook of the PAD, shut down major roads in central Bangkok, yet were unopposed by the police. The anti-democratic nature of the protest was revealed when the PDRC sabotaged the 2014 general election.

Ing also directed the banned films Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย) and My Teacher Eats Biscuits (คนกราบหมา). Her documentary Censor Must Die (เซ็นเซอร์ต้องตาย) was not banned as, according to section 27(1) of the Film and Video Act, "films of news events" are exempt from classification. When I interviewed Ing in 2016, she said: "this ruling has set a marvellous legal precedent for all documentary films. I'm going to use this ruling to exempt my next film (another cinéma vérité documentary, called Bangkok Joyride) from the censorship process. Then it's a matter of finding a cinema." She solved the problem of finding a cinema by building Cinema Oasis.

Both parts of Bangkok Joyride are showing on 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 26th, 28th, and 29th April. Part two is also showing on 25th and 27th April.

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