01 October 2017

Insects in the Backyard

Insects in the Backyard
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's film Insects in the Backyard (อินเซค อินเดอะ แบ็คยาร์ด) will finally receive a theatrical release, when it opens on 30th November at Bangkok's House Rama cinema. The film was screened at the World Film Festival of Bangkok in 2010, though requests for an '18' or '20' age rating were denied, making it the first film formally banned under the Film and Video Act of 2008. Tanwarin appealed to the National Film Board, which upheld the ban, so she sued the censors in the Administrative Court. On Christmas Day 2015, the Court ruled that the film could be released in a cut version.

As Tanwarin told me in an interview earlier this year, the censors initially described the entire film as immoral: "When we asked the committee who considered the film which scenes constituted immorality, they simply said that they thought every scene is immoral, and they didn't give us any more details." She also said that the Film Board had a similar reaction: "we were told by one of the committee members that we should have made the film in a 'good' way. This was said as if we did not know how to produce a good movie, and no clear explanation was given."

The Administrative Court's verdict represented a victory of sorts, as the Court dismissed the idea that it was an immoral film. As Tanwarin told me: "The Court's verdict was that there are no immoral scenes in the film as it's a film focussing on problems in Thai society." The Court also announced that the film could be released if a single brief shot was removed. (The three-second clip shows a hardcore scene from a gay porn film.)

House RCA has occasionally shown explicit films uncut, such as Taxidermia, though it will screen Insects in the Backyard minus the three-second porn clip. Tanwarin has discussed the ban at BACC (Freedom on Film) and FCCT (Art, Politics, and Censorship), and a costume from the film was shown at TCDC (Ploy Saeng 100).

After Insects in the Backyard, Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย), Boundary (ฟ้าตํ่าแผ่นดินสูง), and Karma (อาบัติ) were also banned. Shakespeare Must Die's director is still in the process of appealing the ban, though Boundary and Karma were both released after cuts were made. (I wrote about Thai film censorship for Encounter Thailand magazine in 2012.)

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