01 June 2013

Freedom on Film

Freedom on Film Censor Must Die

After a hiatus of several years, the Free Thai Cinema Movement has recently been revived following the confusion surrounding Boundary (ฟ้าต่ำแผ่นดินสูง), a documentary about the disputed Preah Vihear Temple. Last month, the Ministry of Culture announced that Boundary had been banned, though two days later they performed a suspicious U-turn, explaining that the earlier announcement had been made by an unauthorised sub-committee.

Nontawat Numbenchapol, director of Boundary, will take part in Freedom on Film (สิทธิหนังไทย), a seminar on Thai film censorship at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre today. He will be joined by fellow directors Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, and Nonzee Nimibutr.

The seminar will be preceded by a screening of Censor Must Die (เซ็นเซอร์ต้องตาย), a documentary by Ing Kanjanavanit and Manit Sriwanichpoom about the banning of their film Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย). The documentary films Manit as he waits for the censors’ verdict on Shakespeare Must Die, and follows him as he appeals against the ban at the Ministry of Culture and files a case with the Office of the National Human Rights Commission.

Censor Must Die’s most revealing and depressing sequence takes place at the Ministry of Culture’s headquarters: in the lobby is a TV playing a looped video demonstrating the traditional Thai method of sitting in a polite and respectful manner. The Ministry, which should be supporting contemporary Thai art, instead promotes an outdated interpretation of Thai culture.