“Syndromes and a Century” and Free Thai Cinema Movement

I couldn’t say that I was not surprised by the news that the latest movie of Apichatpong Weerasethakul called "Sang sattawat" a.k.a. "Syndromes and a Century," scheduled to be released in limited theater in Bangkok on April 19 – almost a year after it was first premiered overseas in 2006 Venice Film Festival, was not passed the censorship board in Thailand and the director decided to pull his movie out from commercial release rather than cut off his movie. The more absurd thing was that the board of censorship refused to return the film if the troubled 4 scenes had not been removed, whether it’s released or not, for fearing that the movie would destroy good images of Buddhist monks and doctors in Thailand. However, doing so has already reassured a limited and bad reputation of movie censorship in Thailand and, in a larger scale, a freedom to choose of Thai people. Earlier this month, I had a chance to watch this movie at the 9th Deauville Asian Film Festival in France where it received the highest honor as the best featured film. Along with French audiences, I didn’t see any part of the movie that would destroy the reputation of Buddhism and medical personnel in Thailand. I saw only a director’s personal message of humanity set around both rural and urban hospital in Thailand reflecting from the film. The four troubled scenes include a monk playing guitar, a group of monks playing kite or a kind of flying object, a doctor drinking alcoholic drink in the hospital and a male doctor having a hard-on after kissing with his girl-friend (with no obscured sex scene.) I didn’t see a trouble in any of the scenes. It’s merely a movie for heaven’s sake. Well, I guess true trouble lies in the heart of those who think of them in a bad way, with a pessimistic point of view and pureless mind.

However, there are always two sides of thing. Considered this censorship as a bad luck for limited audiences who waited to watch this movie in Thailand, the alliances of Apichatpong and Thai movie lovers found it to be a good opportunity to create an online petition which would afterwards forward to the National Legislative Assembly and the Thai Government. Here we have the Free Thai Cinema Movement aiming to amend an outdated law regarding movie censorship in Thailand and give Thai people more freedom for choosing to watch or not to watch a movie by themselves. Those who would like to contribute, please sign your name in the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/nocut/petition.html

Let’s make a difference for our future generation!

For more information about the movie, please visit the official site at http://www.kickthemachine.com/works/Syndromes.html

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