Monday, May 15, 2006

Thai soccer movie postponed over Lao concerns

With the Cambodian government still upset over the Thai horror film Ghost Game and its making light of the Khmer Rouge's Tuol Sleng torture center, the Lao government warned that another upcoming film could harm relations with their country, reports The Nation.

Since the government first raised its concerns last week, the issue has escalated, and now the film company, GTH Films, is postponing the film. It was due to be released on May 18, but is now on hold, The Nation reports.

Mak Te (Lucky Loser) portrays Lao people as inept rustics who are incapable of putting together a World Cup-worthy football team - until they hire a Thai coach.

Officials said they feared a Lao version of the January 2003 anti-Thai riots that erupted in Cambodia after false press reports quoted a Thai actress saying Cambodia's ancient Angkor Wat temples should be returned Thailand.

"The best way to deal with the current situation is to halt the release of the film", said GTH chief Visute Poolworalaks.

He said the film, which had a budget of more than Bt60 million (about $1.5 million), had already been cut to avoid the possibility of offending people. "We've already removed many scenes that might possibly be too sensitive to the relationship between the two countries."

Still, the outrage over the film was a surprise.

"GTH always thought that whoever saw the film, whether Thai or Laotian, would like it. So this is very unexpected," he said.

The film's director, Adisorn Tresirikasem, described it as an entertaining story about the football dreams of Asians. But if it did not serve that purpose, he supported the company's decision not to release it, Adisorn said.

"But I still believe in the film and would love people to see it so they will get answers to any doubts they may have," he said.

Producer Jira Maligool said those involved in the project had good intentions. The films GTH makes are carefully thought out to please all audiences, and are produced with good intentions, Jira said.

"I was very happy over the past two years with this film project. I hoped that it would be popular among audiences in Southeast Asia," he said.

Jira said that originally the film was three hours long, but the production team decided to cut many scenes they thought might be sensitive in terms of relations with Laos. The final cut is less than two hours long, he said.

After the press preview last week, the Lao Embassy expressed concern over the film and GTH sent a copy to the embassy for viewing.

Jira said the Lao officials liked many parts of the film but found some parts inappropriate.

"I want to say that the ultimate message of the film is all about the dreams we share, especially about football," he said."All Asian people have a dream and we still pursue our dream despite our difficulties."

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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