07 October 2023

๕๐ ปี ๑๔ ตุลา
(‘50 years of 14th Oct.’)

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 14th October 1973 demonstration, when 500,000 people rallied at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument calling for an end to Thanom Kittikachorn’s dictatorial rule. The protest was successful, as Thanom was dismissed as prime minister and sent into exile, though the military shot and killed seventy-seven protesters. The anniversary was commemorated with an exhibition of paintings at g23 earlier in the year, and there will also be an exhibition at the forthcoming Thailand Book Expo and screenings at the Thai Film Archive later this month.

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is also holding an exhibition to mark the anniversary, from 3rd to 15th October, with replicas of billboards created by the United Artists’ Front of Thailand (แนวร่วมศิลปินแห่งประเทศไทย). The billboards were originally displayed outdoors in 1975, and the replicas have been shown at two previous exhibitions: Political Cut-out Artworks of the October Event (ภาพศิลปะคัทเอาท์การเมืองเดือนตุลา) in 2003 and ภาพคัตเอาท์การเมืองเดือนตุลา (‘October political billboard artworks’) in 2009.

BACC will also be screening a series of short films, including Pirab (พิราบ) and the documentary The Shadow of History (เงาประวัติศาสตร์) on 8th October, and 16 ตุลา (‘16th Oct.’) on 15th October. (Pirab was previously shown at Thammasat University earlier this month, at Future Fest 2023, and at the Thai Film Archive in 2017. 16 ตุลา was previously shown online as part of Democracy.exe in 2021.)

The Shadow of History, produced by the Thai Film Archive on the fortieth anniversary of the protest, features newsreel footage of the event filmed by Chin Klaiparn and Taweesak Wiriyasiri. It was directed by Panu Aree, Kong Rithdee, and Kaweenipon Ketprasit.

Pirab, directed by Pasit Promnumpol, begins with a flashback (in sound only) to another massacre, on 6th October 1976, which took place after Thanom’s return from exile. The film dramatises a student’s anguished decision to leave his family and join the Communist insurgency, allowing the audience to empathise with the young man’s dilemma.

In 16 ตุลา, three student protest leaders debate their tactics in the aftermath of the 2014 coup. (The three students could, of course, be substitutes for Arnon Nampa, Panusaya Sithjirawattanakul, and Parit Chirawak.) Aomtip Kerdplanant’s drama shows how the students’ lives have changed in the years since their initial campaign, indicating how seasoned protesters can become disillusioned. The title is a conflation of the 14th October 1973 and 6th October 1976 massacres, which have been whitewashed to such an extent that many people cannot tell them apart.