Thursday, November 25, 2010

Insects in the Backyard still bad for morality

Censors crossed out the words "public order" on the official form stating their decision on Wednesday to uphold the ban on Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's sexually and emotionally charged debut feature Insects in the Backyard.

"Do not allow projection," says the form, which you can see at Matichon Online.

Now the authorities rule that the film's content is merely "contrary to morality” but apparently isn't harmful to public order.

They softened their stance somewhat since their initial decision two weeks ago. But the movie is still banned.

"I feel upset my film is still banned," the director is quoted as saying on The Nation website.

While remaining adamant that none of the film's strong depictions of sexual acts be cut, Tanwarin hoped to gain favor with the censors by adding a disclaimer, stating that film is a work of fiction, is not meant to resemble any actual events and that common sense should be used while watching it.

Never mind that Tanwarin herself had stated the film is unsuitable for viewers under the age of 20, making Insects in the Backyard appropriate for Thailand's restrictive 20- motion-picture rating.

The gay transvestite filmmaker, who also stars in the film, hasn't given up hope of being able to screen the family social drama, and has taken the next step of appealing to the Culture Ministry's National Film Board and obtaining the endorsement of the Thai Film Director Association, which is headed by Songyos Sugmakanan, the youthful director of the GTH films Dorm, Hormones and Fan Chan. A new ruling on this third appeal is expected in about a month.

Tanwarin is hoping to release Insects in the Backyard for a limited commercial run in one Bangkok cinema as part of Bioscope magazine’s Indy Spirit Project, which earlier this year supported the successful limited-run screenings of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives at SF cinemas.

Insects in the Backyard premiered in the Dragons and Tigers Competition at the Vancouver International Film Festival and at last month’s World Film Festival of Bangkok.

Meanwhile, there is lots of support for Tanwarin, a veteran director and star of many acclaimed short films and a respected figure in the industry and indie circles.

There's a petition as well as a "We're Insects in the Backyard" avatar, suitable for use on your Facebook or Twitter profile.

Commentator Pravit Rojanaphruk wrote a column in The Nation that was also picked up by Prachatai, blasting the Thai government's "nanny state" mentality.

Never mind that the film might carry a message, or can be interpreted according to the viewer’s discretion. To the board, each and every Thai "not just those below 20" is so immature and vulnerable that they will be seriously corrupted if they watched this film.

Censorship, be it political or otherwise, lies in the hands of a few people who claim to know what’s best for the rest of us.

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