Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Shakespeare Must Die is banned
Shakespeare Must Die (เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย), a politically charged adaptation of Macbeth, has become the second film to be banned from commercial release by the Thai Film Board under the Film Act of 2008.
Co-directed by artists Samanrat Kanjanavanit, a.k.a. Ing K., and Manit Sriwanichpoom, the film was banned because censors feared it would cause disunity in Thai society.
Ironically, Shakespeare Must Die had received financial support from the Thai Khem Kaeng (Strong Thailand) "creative economy" initiative of the Cultural Ministry's Office of Contemporary Art and Culture.
A trailer for Shakespeare Must Die, embedded above, shows that the film plays on images from Thailand's turbulent and violent political past, including the 2010 anti-government red-shirt protests and the 1976 Thammasat Massacre, in which a hanging corpse was beaten with a chair.
The first film to be banned by the Film Board under the 2008 Film Act was Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's Insects in the Backyard. With explicit sexual imagery and allusions to patricide in a story about the transgender father of two troubled teenagers, censors deemed that movie to be "against public order or morality" and "contrary to morality".
Ing K. and Manit previously co-directed the critically acclaimed 2008 documentary Citizen Juling, an exhaustive account of the Thai political landscape following the 2006 beating death of a Buddhist schoolteacher in Thailand's restive South.
A polarizing figure in Thai art circles, Ing K. also made the controversial feature My Teacher Eats Biscuits. It's never been shown publicly in Thailand – the screening at the 1997 Bangkok Film Festival was raided by police. You can read more about that film in an article by Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn at Criticine.
Updates: The Bangkok Post has a story. There's also coverage at 2Bangkok, Film Business Asia, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Asian Correspondent's Siam Voices, Associated Press, Twitch and Newley Purnell. See also the official website.