Free Thai Cinema Movement Petition

Free Thai Cinema Movement Petition - April 16, 2007

Pat of Chicago Filmmakers writes: Apichatpong ("Joe") used to live in Chicago (he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and I was one of the very first people to show his work (shorts, before he moved to features). He is a terrifically talented filmmaker and internationally known and acclaimed. And a really nice guy....

Below is a statement about his recent film that is not approved for release in Thailand unless cuts are made...

Syndromes and a Century (Sang Sattawat) on IMDB and Wikipedia

Free Thai Cinema Movement Petition
Statement by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

*with Bioscope, the Thai Film Foundation, Thai Film Director’s Association, and Alliances.*

I am saddened by what has happened to my film. However, this is not the venue to try to make SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY shown in Thai theaters. It is not my intention to use this opportunity to promote my work. But, it is time to seriously think about what is going on with our censorship laws, so that the next generation of filmmakers will not face the same problems as us, and so that the Thai audiences can truly achieve a freedom of choice.

It is time we discuss whether all films, before being released, should be seen by the Buddhist council, doctors council, teachers council, labor council, the army, pet lovers group, taxi union, representatives from other foreign countries etc? Or, is it easier to turn our nation into a Fascist state so that we can live in harmony and don’t have to waste time talking about democracy?

The system of the Thai Board of Censors needs to be evaluated. Their members' relevancy and efficiency needs to be questioned, and we should decide whether the laws should be changed.

I would like to ask you to reflect on the censorship practices in our country and to provide us with advice at

Later on, this Petition will be submitted to the Thai government. Your support will be a great contribution to our fight for one of our most basic rights - that of freedom.

I am grateful for your time and your participation. Thank you very much.

Warmest Regards,
Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Thai director withdraws 'Syndromes' - Weerasethakul at odds with censors - Variety, April 15, 2007
...Censorship board responded by threatening to make the cuts itself and has refused to return the print to distributor Bioscope...

Earlier: Thai censors want 'Syndrome' snips - Move raises moral crackdown questions - Variety, April 12, 2007
...Controversial scenes in the movie about the memories of two doctors include an image of a young monk casually strumming a guitar; a scene of four doctors drinking whisky in a hospital storeroom; and a scene of a male doctor kissing his girlfriend in the hospital's locker room.
A representative from the Thai Medical Council said that the scenes involving doctors are improper and do not portray good conduct by medical professionals. "Drinking liquor is OK, but drinking it in a hospital is not," Supawat Pothong of the Council's law department said.
The scene showing the monk playing the guitar is against the Buddhist precepts, according to the censorship board...

Also interesting - UNKNOWN FORCES: APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL: Says Weerasethakul, “UNKNOWN FORCES is also for the hard workers and hard drinkers of the northeast, my home region, who are the root of Thailand’s booming real estate. These construction workers are hauled around by contractors from one construction site to another, roaming cities and villages. Thailand’s landscape is shaped by these nomadic souls on pickup trucks. Like many actors I know, the workers have resided in a hierarchic system for so long that they are voiceless and are assigned to be part of an apolitical species…On many occasions I feel I am part of this pickup truck syndrome, fueled by a strange cocktail of politics, monarchy, and religion.”
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