Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time is ripe for The Truth Be Told

Here we go again. The anti-government street protests have resumed in Bangkok, and are turning nasty.

It seems an ideal time for the release of The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong, which is the second film in the Director's Screen series by Extra Virgin and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. The film opens on Thursday night (May 29) for a four-week run, with showtimes at 7 nightly.

Filmed over the course of three years, with Thailand’s recent tumultuous political history as a backdrop, director Pimpaka Towira follows media activist Supinya during her legal fight against defamation lawsuits brought against her by the Shin Corporation.

The movie captures the tail end of the Thaksin era, and sees the People's Alliance for Democracy protests that formed to denounce Thaksin and the sale of his family's Shin Corp. assets to Singapore's Temasek Holdings. The film was basically completed when the military coup of 2006 took place, and changed everything. So the chilling post-coup atmosphere serves as a coda of sorts in the documentary.

The film premiered last year at the Thai Film Foundation's Digital Forum, and has since gone on to screen at festivals in Rotterdam, Thessaloniki, Toronto and Singapore. I thought it was brave film, mainly for the fact that it dared to take on the touchy subject of Thai politics -- very few films do -- and because of its blend of art-film aesthetics with documentary narrative.

Now it's playing for four weeks, and I wonder if any of Thailand's political bloggers will go see it and post reviews about it?

These are crazy times, as the People's Alliance for Democracy is back with demonstrations, denouncing the government. There is no middle ground. If you don't support PAD, then you are for the government. If you don't support the government, then you must be for PAD. There is no alternative, and no real democracy with either.

At the root of the fight this time is the leading People Power Party's desire to amend the constitution that was drafted under military rule last year. The charter penalized Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai cronies and created a loophole from prosecution from those taking part in the coup. The PPP, widely seen as a nominee of Thai Rak Thai and Thaksin, seeks to undo all that. A sidebar controversy is Prime Minister's Office Minister Jakrapob and what he said. And then there are the Democrats, the opposition party, which used to have the appearance of remaining above the fray, but in recent weeks have taken to posturing to show what they really stand for.

There is lots of writing about the situation. Bangkok Pundit, of course, has extensive coverage of PAD. Also here and here. But the one that sums it up best is the parody website, Not The Nation, which in its Onionish piss-take on the situation is probably as close to the frustrating truth of the matter as anything.

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