Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prachya on ratings: 'Someone may want to exploit this system'

With the Film and Video Act of 2007 now in effect, a panel that includes director Prachya Pinkaew has now set about to draft regulations on how the film-ratings system will be administered.

Prachya, the director of such action-heavy films as Ong-Bak, Tom Yum Goong and Chocolate, as well as producer of such cheesecake fare as Dangerous Flowers and Sick Nurses, warned that the forthcoming film ratings in Thailand could be used to sensationally advertise films that contain sex.

Here is more from a story in today's Daily Xpress:

"Someone may want to exploit this system by adding sexual content and using it as the film's selling point," Pinkaew said. He was commenting on the Culture Ministry's plan to classify films into seven categories.

"It is difficult to determine how much violence should be allowed for viewing at a certain age. Besides, some films contain violence but teach the right morals," Prachya said.

Sitting on a panel to draw up rating regulations, Prachya said his committee would try to ban films that focus on sex scenes and pornographic material.

"We will rate a film based on its intention," he said.

Film director Thanit Jitnukul, meanwhile, said the Culture Ministry should assign qualified experts to handle ratings.

"Film directors are ready to toe the line but we also hope for the right standard about how the films should be rated," Thanit said.

Let me see if I understand what Prachya is saying. Obviously, from his own films -- I'm thinking about Bongkot Kongmalai in a mud bath in Tom Yum Goong, or the lingerie swimming scenes in Chai Lai -- a little sexiness is okay. Just don't go overboard. Is that what he's saying?

Well, isn't that the whole point of ratings -- to give viewers a guideline of what to expect? If a film is explicit, it'll get the most restrictive classification and will be viewed by audiences of an appropriate age.

At least that's how ratings are supposed to work in theory.

Prachya seems to be focused on the intentions. Like, what were the intentions of Apichatpong Weerasethakul when he included an extensive, explicit oral sex hand-job scene in Blissfully Yours? Or any director who includes a sex scene in his or her film? Are the intentions to advance the story, to entertain or to be provocative? Who's going to judge that? How is that going to be judged?

I can see the authorities being concerned about legitimizing pure pornography, but the sword can cut another way, and compromise free artistic expression. It's encouraging that filmmakers are actually involved in this part of the process, even if they won't be the ones who ultimately decide on if a film should be rated or banned -- that's up to the Ministry of Culture bureaucrats and their special-interest advisers -- but I am a taken aback by the prudish statements from a producer like Prachya.

The ratings are part of the Film and Video Act of 2007, which officially took effect yesterday.

Related posts:

(Photo: Supaksorn Chaimongkol, Bongkot Kongmalai and Kessarin Ektawatkul in Dangerous Flowers)


  1. the oral sex scene in blissfully yours wasn't explicit at all. it was shot entirely from behind in a long shot/long take. the explicit scene was executed by hand not orally.

  2. You're right. It wasn't too long ago that I watched Blissfully (on import DVD, not the censored Mangpong release), but obviously I need to watch it again.

    Thanks for commenting.


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