With his upcoming disaster film 2022 Tsunami, in which a wall of water wipes Bangkok off the map, veteran filmmaker Toranong Srichua looks to be challenging the current regime of censorship and banning.
Thai 101 has translated a quote by Toranong, from the April issue of Bioscope (via Poakpong):
In the Thai film industry, characters are forbidden to have sex, forbidden to discuss politics, forbidden to discuss religion, forbidden to discuss the Monarchy, forbidden to sell drugs. Because you forbid all these things, all the characters are ghosts and clowns. Neither exist in the real world, and yet they run wild in Thai films."
Toranong is my new hero. Yet as much as I agree with the spirit of what he's saying, it should be noted that Toranong is a controversial figure, and like most controversial figures in Thailand, he has a gift for self promotion.
He was criticized recently for putting up a five-story billboard for 2022 Tsunami that featured pictures of corpses, some without clothes, with the tagline "Men have hurt nature for too long, now nature will have its revenge."
Bangkok Post film critic Kong Rithdee -- himself no fan of the censorship regime or the majority of mainstream movies -- took Toranong to task in a Saturday op-ed column last month. Here's an excerpt (cache):
Defying the criticism, outspoken Toranong said the image he has shown is that of actual victims of the 2004 tsunami, and that his intention for making the film was to "relate the information to the public... so that lives can be saved if things like this happen again".
Toranong has a cultish reputation as a filmmaker who likes to strip bare all human pretense and stares, unblinking, at the naked truth of brutality and filth. He is also known as a devout Buddhist.
Tsunami 2022, he said, cost him 160 million baht (I'd say it's a little exaggerated if not a lot), an amount he knows he'll never recoup.
Toranong has also been in the news recently for big plans by his company Twentieth June Entertainment to develop a sprawling movie studio complex in Phetchaburi province. The Nation had a story about that on Tuesday. It follows a story about Toranong Studios from last June in the Bangkok Post (cache).
There is now a full-length trailer for 2022 Tsunami as well as an extended trailer that shows some of the things that Toranong says are forbidden. I've embedded the latter version below. So stare at it. Unblinkingly. Also, Deknang has images and info from the production.
2022 Tsunami (2022 สึนามิ วันโลกสังหาร) is due in cinemas on April 30. The motion-picture ratings system, such as it is, isn't due to be enacted until May.