Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY IS CENSORED IN THAILAND

The article below is written by Kong Rithdee from BANGKOK POST newspaper.


Thai director cancels film's local release

The director of an internationally acclaimed Thai film has cancelled the local release of the much-anticipated movie after the censors yesterday insisted that four ``sensitive'' scenes be cut.

The film, Sang Satawat (Syndromes and a Century), is directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and tells the story of doctors at a rural hospital.

The scenes the board found objectionable show a young monk playing a guitar, a group of doctors drinking whisky in a hospital basement, a doctor kissing his girlfriend in a hospital locker room, and two monks playing with a radio-controlled flying saucer.

``The scenes involving doctors are inappropriate,'' said Supawat Pothong, a representative of the Medical Council who attended the censorship board meeting yesterday.

``Drinking whisky in a hospital is not proper conduct by medical professionals,'' he said.

``Sure, doctors can kiss their girlfriends. Doing that at home is all right, but doing it in a hospital is inappropriate.''

Mr Apichatpong, whose parents were both doctors, is currently in the US.

He emailed the Bangkok Post, saying he has no intention of cutting those scenes and will withdraw the film.

``I, as a filmmaker, treat my works as I do my own sons or daughters,'' he wrote. ``I don't care if people are fond of them or despise them, as long as I created them with my best intentions and efforts.

``If these offspring of mine cannot live in their own country for whatever reason, let them be free. There is no reason to mutilate them in fear of the system. Otherwise there is no reason for one to continue making art.''


Saeng Satawat premiered at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival in August and went on to garner praise and awards from audiences, critics and at film festivals around the world.

On March 21, it won the award for best film editing at the inaugural Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.

It was scheduled to open on two screens in Bangkok on April 19.

``I don't know how to convince [the censors] that these scenes are not as damaging as many scenes in other Thai films,'' said Pantham Thongsang, the film's co-producer.

Critics and parents recently expressed concern about the heavy use of vulgar language and rude behaviour in films like The Bodyguard 2 and Hor Taew Tak, which attracted young audiences and were passed by censors.


6 comments:

Peter Nellhaus said...

Having been in Thailand, I am not surprised. I think the government is embarrassed that Joe is Thailand's most internationally acclaimed filmmaker. Given that the TAT has screwed up the BIFF, and changed their minds about which Thai film would be up for the Academy Award, the government is basically blowing any artistic credibility that was built over the past five years. I can't say I'm surprised - it was government officials who claimed that the smoke and haze in Chiang Mai was caused by a chain of Korean Barbeque restaurants. If I had actually seen one of those restaurants, I might have eaten there.

Curtis said...

I'm not surprised either, but am still stunned.

celinejulie said...

PETER NELLHAUS AND CURTIS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENTS.

LIVING IN THAILAND ALL MY LIFE, I USED TO THINK I WAS VERY HAPPY, ESPECIALLY DURING THE LAST TEN YEARS.

WHY WAS I HAPPY LIVING IN THAILAND? I THINK IT IS PARTLY BECAUSE I USUALLY SPEND MY TIME LIVING IN MY OWN FANTASY WORLD. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED IN THAILAND, MY OWN FANTASY WORLD IS ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL, AND HAS NO BAD PEOPLE IN IT.

BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THAILAND LATELY SEEMS TO AFFECT ME SO MUCH THAT I CANNOT ESCAPE FROM REALITY AS I USED TO. I HAVE TO FACE THE FACT THAT LIVING IN THIS COUNTRY SOMEHOW IS LIKE LIVING IN AN ABSURD THEATRE, OR LIKE LIVING IN A KAFKA LAND, OR IN LUIS BUNUEL’S MOVIES.

YES, WHAT HAPPENS TO SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY SOMEHOW REMINDS ME OF A SCENE IN “THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY” (1974, LUIS BUNUEL, A+), IN WHICH SOME PEOPLE TALKS ABOUT SOME VERY OBSCENE PHOTOS, AND IT TURNS OUT THAT THEY WERE THE PHOTOS OF ORDINARY BUILDINGS.

I USED TO THINK THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY IS A “SURREAL” MOVIE, BUT NOW I THINK IT MIGHT BE CALLED A REALLY “REALISTIC” MOVIE, BECAUSE WHAT SEEMS TO BE “SURREAL” IS SO SIMILAR TO REAL LIFE IN THAILAND.

Dodo said...

You know Thailand is a fascist state. All TV stations are under government/military control. I am not surprised that his film is censored at all. Thailand is getting worse everyday. The irony is that average Thais don't care much about their rights to freedom of speech. Perhaps because they have been been brainwashed by the government/military propaganda all their lives. To see how worse Thailand has become, as of this writing youtube is blocked in Thailand...

celinejulie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
celinejulie said...

Thank you, Dodo. There are many things about Thailand which I'm afraid to say myself. :-)