Saturday, December 25, 2010

"The movie was banned because it is deeply immoral"

Crossdressing indie filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit's Insects in the Backyard was officially banned by the National Film Board on Wednesday night.

According to The Nation, the vote was 21-3 against Insects.

Tanwarin had twice before submitted Insects to the Culture Ministry's censorship regime, which deemed the movie against public order or morality and contrary to morality. The National Film Board was the last stop for Insects at the ministry.

"I'll file a petition with the Administrative Court," Tanwarin told a Nation reporter.

Insects in the Backyard has strong depictions of sex, including a vivid scene of sex between men and another involving a strap-on dildo.

Censors have objected to the teenagers in their school uniforms working in the sex industry. They were also disturbed by a dream sequence in which the son kills his father.

An Associated Press article yesterday quotes a Culture Ministry official who wished to remain anonymous:

"The movie was banned because it is deeply immoral," said one of the officials, a member of the Culture Ministry's Film and Video Screening Office, which is under the Department of Cultural Promotion and advised the Film Board to ban the film. He said it was "unnecessary" to show child sex workers and dreams of patricide that could be copied by young viewers.

"Members of the public might take a negative view of our ban," the official said. "But if they have an opportunity to watch the movie, they would understand why it was banned."

What did "the official" say?

If the film is banned, how will members of the public have the opportunity to watch the film?

Logic and contradictions aside, it's the members of the National Film Board and the Film and Video Screening Office who ought to be given the kind of scrutiny they are giving Insects in the Backyard. Clearly, they have some deep-seated and disturbing emotional issues if they really do believe that schoolchildren will see the film and immediately go out and start prostituting themselves and killing their fathers.

I suppose there's a chance people might still see the film, maybe at film festivals or private screenings. It premiered in the Dragons and Tigers competition at the Vancouver festival, and I was lucky enough to see Insects at the World Film Festival of Bangkok, which got to show it I guess because the rules for film festivals are not as strict as films intended for commercial release.

But I hope it doesn't end up on YouTube or as a pirated torrent. That would undermine Tanwarin's dogged efforts in the fight for free expression.

People would get to see the movie, sure, and it would be another great example of the Streisand Effect of something becoming popular because it is suppressed.

But then nothing in Thailand's film and censorship laws will have changed.

Insects in the Backyard is the first film banned under the film law, which includes a motion-picture ratings system and replaced a 1930 law under which all films were subject to censorship by the police.

Tanwarin had sought a limited commercial release for Insects under the 20- rating, the only restrictive classification in the film law, which bars viewers under the age of 20 and requires ID checks. Other ratings, including G, 13+, 15+ and 18+ are advisory only and require no ID checks.

Insects in the Backyard is a magnum opus for the veteran indie director, who also stars as the flamboyantly dressed transvestite dad. Tanwarin has said the film aims to show that negative attitudes about homosexuality and transgender issues still exist in Thailand, despite its reputation for tolerance of gays and transgender people.

Tanwarin is also quoted by the Associated Press:

"The problem with my film wasn't that it was a gay-themed movie — because there are many gay comedies allowed in Thailand. My movie was banned because it was a serious movie. It showed there can be real problems when society cannot accept sexual differences."


  1. re: "The movie was banned because it is deeply immoral," said one of the officials, a member of the Culture Ministry's Film and Video Screening Office, which is under the Department of Cultural Promotion and advised the Film Board to ban the film.
    ...meanwhile, tens of thousands of ladyboys, female sex workers and rent boys are "servicing" tens of thousands of Iranian and Arab tourists each and every day and night in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Hat Yai.....these two particular groups at the top of Tourist Authority Thailand's "target and market development list" due to their super high spend rate per day (which is based on their super high sexual encounter/consumption rate per day while in Thailand)...

    ...and the Minister of Commerce in the Thailand Cabinet owns and continues to collect millions of dollars of income a year from one of the world's largest and most famous hi-end brothels, employing hundreds of Thai and Isan females who are "servicing" thousands of "clients" each week, while at the same time participating in major economic decisions that impact every aspect of Thailand's economic future....

    ...if the film and its story is "deeply immoral" and "presents a negative portrait of Thailand", then WTF do these cultural ministry morons think of what's actually going on in Thailand day and night, each and every day of the year....

  2. I hate it when they ban movies!

    it just makes people more curious to see why they banned the movie! "what could be so bad about it?"

    worst yet producers used money to make the movie and then they ban it:/

    yo i just wanna know...why are there so many shemales and ladyboys in Thai land?

    i mean I see thai movies and most of their female look like male-she:/

    by the way Ong Bak 2 is one of the best martial arts movie and Tony's best movie ever:)


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