Free Thai Cinema Movement
April 16, 2007
(A letter from Free Thai Cinema Movement)
To: The National Legislative Assembly and The Thai Government
The film “Sang Satawat” (“Syndromes and a Century”), recently submitted to the Censorship Board, was not approved for release in Thailand unless cuts are made. The Board would permit the release on the condition that four cuts were excised. As a result, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul decided to cancel commercial release of the film in Thailand and stood firm that these cuts not be made. He has issued a statement:
“I, a filmmaker, treat my works as my own sons or my daughters. When I conceived them, they have their own lives to live. I don’t mind 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 reasons, let them be free. Since there are other places that warmly welcome them as who they are, there is no reason to mutilate them from the fear of the system, or from greed. Otherwise there is no reason for one to continue making art.”
Afterwards, the filmmaker’s representative contacted the Board and requested that the print of the film submitted for consideration be returned, including a letter confirming that the film would not be shown commercially and no appeal would be made. However, the Board refused to return the print, and insisted that they would do so only if these four cuts were removed by the Board itself.(see more details at http://a-century.exteen.com)
Consequently, the detention of the print has sparked a widespread discussion especially on the Internet. A large number of resentful people, NGO workers and scholars have logged on to express their disagreement over the seemingly arbitrary censorship policies, which they regard as a form of oppression that the state employs to restrict the people’s freedom of expression. The Thai Censorship Board still operates on the basis of antiquated legislation dating from the Film Act of 1930, which was the time this country was still ruled by Absolute Monarchy.
It eludes us all why Thai cinema has continued to be systematically straightjacketed even though there have been several attempts by the film community of the past 30 years to campaign for the complete overhaul of the aforementioned Film Act, whose essence functions against the spirit of genuine democracy in all manners.
The shameful episode over “Syndromes and a Century”, a film that has brought much favorable critical attention to Thai cinema, is taking place in 2007 as the new constitution is being drafted by the National Legislative Assembly. This presents an opportunity to all of us, the local film community as well as film lovers from all over the world, to demand and reclaim our basic human rights to freely receive of informations and rights to express ourselves through cinema, which remains the only medium that’s still chained to the wicked pillar of undemocratic practice.
We who sign our names here henceforth assert the ownership of our basic human rights and the dignity of human beings under a democratic society. We 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.
We’re petitioning not only for a just decision for “Syndromes and a Century”, but also for a long-needed modernization of Thai legislation concerning movie censorship. We demand that the authority revise the legislation to abandon the practice of cutting and banning films, and instead to implement a rating system of the kind used in free countries. This is the only way that Thai cinema and all cinema to be shown in Thailand can be freed from the shackles of outdated legal vandalism.
Online Petition : http://www.petitiononline.com/nocut/petition.html