10 March 2023

Hoon Payon

The release of Hoon Payon (หุ่นพยนต์), a new Thai horror film, has been postponed after it was censored by the National Film and Video Committee. The censors required five edits to the film before permitting its release: references to the Wat Teppaton temple, novice monks fighting and swearing while wearing saffron robes, novices bullying another young boy, a novice hugging his mother, and the recitation of one of the Buddhist precepts during a murder scene. They also raised concerns about the actors playing novices all having eyebrows, as monks are required to shave their body hair before ordination.

Some of the censors’ concerns are in line with the censorship of previous Thai films featuring Buddhist monks: Karma, for example, was also censored for its misbehaving monks and for physical contact between a monk and a woman. (Thai Cinema Uncensored discusses the almost 100-year relationship between Buddhism and banned films.) The censors’ objection to the novices’ eyebrows, on the other hand, seems over-sensitive and inconsistent. Mario Maurer, for instance, was not required to shave his eyebrows for his starring role as a monk in The Outrage (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง).

Hoon Payon

Hoon Payon had its premiere at Major Cineplex Ratchayothin on 7th March, followed by a Q&A with director Phontharis Chotkijsadarsopon. Its theatrical release is now on hold, as the studio considers the censors’ verdict. Even if the required cuts were made, the film would receive a restrictive ‘20’ rating, requiring audiences to show ID before admittance, which Phontharis described as crazy (“บบ้าตาย”) in a post on Facebook yesterday. The Thai Film Director Association issued a statement yesterday, calling for an amendment to the Film and Video Act designating the National Film and Video Committee as purely a ratings body without the authority to cut or ban films.

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