Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Banned in Thailand

Being a banned film in Thailand doesn't quite have the same cachet as being banned in China, but when a film is finally released publicly in Thailand after 30 years, it's still something to write about.

And ThaiCinema.org has done just that, talking about the release on VCD of Tongpan.

The VCD has English subtitles, together with a compilation book on related articles and interviews, in both Thai and English.

The movie is about poor Northeasterners being invited by student demonstrators to discuss issues that affect them.

Since it dealt with the democracy uprisings of 1973-74, it caused enough of a stir in mid-1970s Thailand - wary of a communist incursion on its soil - that it was banned. Most of the filmmakers or performers were forced into exile, either abroad or "gone to the jungle for justice", as ThaiCinema.org puts it.

According to OutNow, which terms it "the first serious movie from Thailand", the film was completed outside Thailand.

It was directed by Euthana Mukdasanit, who later did the 1985 film dealing with South Thailand, Butterflies and Flowers, and Surachai Jantimatorn.

The film somehow managed to play at the London Film Festival and was honored as the "Outstanding Film of Southeast Asia", says ThaiCinema.

The movie is available for 100 baht (about US$2.50) at Thai bookstores in Bangkok, though ThaiCinema notes probably the best place to look is at CU Book Center, which has a branch in Siam Square.

Next time I'm in that neighborhood, I'll be there.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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