Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sia Jiang: 'It is not a boycott'

The Nation today follows up on the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand boycott of the Bangkok International Film Festival with Federation president Somsak 'Sia Jiang' Techaratanaprasert saying "don't call it a boycott".

"It is not a boycott but we won't be joining the festival because they did not invite us, so what should we do?" he was quoted as saying.

Three Thai film companies, Five Star Production, RS Film and GTH, want to know more about the FNFAT's decision not to participate in the film festival organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand at a newly opened multiplex theatre at Siam Paragon from February 17 to 27.

The conflict started after the festival's organizers contacted the film studios directly, not through the federation, which upset Somsak, who also is head of Sahamongkol Films.

"This year they went directly to the film companies, which shows no respect for us. It seems they don’t recognise that we represent the film industry," he was quoted as saying.
Somsak says Federation members must abide by its directions, otherwise they would be expelled from the organization.

Sahamongkol also is a major distributor of foreign films in Thailand, which means Brokeback Mountain - scheduled to open in a limited release in Thailand on Valentine's Day - would be pulled from the film festival.

For its part, the TAT says it was simply too busy in the past year with tsunami memorial activities, so it went straight to the film companies in an effort to save time.

"We hope they will reconcile," Tanes Petsuwan was quoted as saying. "The festival is a national event and since we are attempting to put the country in world-class destinations, the success of our film festival will be one of the indicators."

Also at the heart of the dispute is money -- a budget cut, resulting in no funds shared with the Federation for advertising. There's also sidebar film market, which the Federation was a big organizer of in past years.

"The drastic decrease is because many people complained last year that the activities at the film market mostly benefit Sahamongkol Film, which belonged to [the Federation's] president rather than other members," an anonymous industry source was quoted as saying.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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