The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Shakespeare film banned in Thailand

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jul• 03•12

In April, Thailand’s culture ministry banned a film based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. citing “content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation”.  On July 5, 2012, Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT)  is hosting a discussion pertaining to that event. Censorship is always an issue in Thailand, and the discussion will no doubt be pointed, and lively. The FCCT’s description of the issue provides a background for the discussion:

In April, Thailand’s culture ministry banned the film Shakespeare Tong Tai (Shakespeare Must Die), based on Macbeth, citing “content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation”.

It transpired that a slender majority – four out of seven – of the censorship committee had objected to, among others, a scene in the film reminiscent of the infamous 1976 massacre of left wing students at Bangkok’s Thammasat University.
The committee also objected to alleged anti-monarchy overtones in the film, as well as the bright red cloak of a murderer in the film – the same colour worn by the “red shirt” movement which helped sweep former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, to office last year.

In an interview at the time, director Ing Kanjanavanit said “I feel like we are heading to a very dark, dark place right now, a place full of fears and everyone has to be extra careful about what they say.”

Thailand’s ministry of culture has accumulated a recent track record of rulings that have provoked both righteous approval by supporters and indignation from detractors.

Ing Kanjanavanit will be joined at the FCCT by the outspoken president of the Thai Directors’ Guild, Tanwarin ‘Golf’ Sukhappisit, whose film Insects in the Backyard was banned for obscenity two years ago – prompting her to file petitions in court to have the ban lifted. At a recent meeting the Guild agreed to campaign against a clause in the law allowing films to be banned.

They will be joined by Kong Rithdee, a deputy editor at the Bangkok Post, who in the wake of the banning of Shakespeare Must Die, wrote “Film censorship is medieval in an age when you can watch a film while riding in an elevator or on your phone while stuck in traffic.”

Join us on July 5 at 8 pm for a riveting discussion on who has the power to decide what can and cannot be seen by the Thai public – and whether censorship has any place at all in a modern Thailand.

The FCCT is located at the Maneeya Building, BTS Skytrain Chit Lom station. Tel: 02-652-0580-1

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