Many New Mandala readers will be aware that over the past few weeks a movement has formed to campaign against the censorship of Thai cinema. These efforts have received a considerable amount of coverage.
The catalyst for the current protests is the censorship of Apichartpong Weerasethakul‘s new film, Syndromes and a Century (the Thai title is: р╣Бр╕кр╕Зр╕ир╕Хр╕зр╕гр╕гр╕й). More information on the four “offensive” scenes that the censors hope to block – including one where a young monk plays a guitar and another where doctors drink whiskey – can be found here.
A petition against this censorship, which was initiated by Apichartpong and his allies, has already garnered over 5400 signatures from around the world. They:
demand the National Legislative Assembly decree the movies a form of mass media, and that it be liberated from the shackles of state intervention and restriction, the same as other mass media such as radio, television and newspapers have long been set free.
The target of their protest is the Thai Censorship Board which draws its powers from what they call the “antiquated” Film Act of 1930.
The “four cuts” to Syndromes and a Century demanded by the censors have not been approved by Apichartpong and so this film has not been released in Thai cinemas (while it continues to garner rave reviews elsewhere). The current stalemate between the film-maker and the Thai officials has, unsurprisingly, also led to continuing global interest. If you want to read more about the issue from the film-maker’s perspective then this blog is a fine place to start.
Obviously, many New Mandala readers maintain a keen eye on efforts to restrict freedom of expression in post-coup Thailand. For that reason alone, the saga of Apichartpong’s film, and this effort to take on the censors, is worth watching closely.
Thanks to regular New Mandala reader Sawarin who encouraged me to write about this issue.