Friday, June 28, 2013

Boundary opens under unusual conditions

A forlorn Nontawat sells tickets at his table in the Major Cineplex Airport Plaza lobby. Photo via Facebook.

Boundary has started a limited run in Thai cinemas that almost didn't happen.

Nontawat Numbenchapol's controversial documentary on the Thai-Cambodian border conflict was set to have its official Thai premiere for press and VIPs on Monday at Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada when it appeared it might be cancelled.

Apparently, Major Cineplex, having agreed to screen Boundary in its theaters, had second thoughts, given the film's sensitive political topic.

After some discussion, Nontawat struck a new deal with Major that would still let him show the film, but he'd have to handle ticket sales himself – an unusual situation that means extra hassles for the young indie filmmaker.

"There was a misunderstanding about the press screening at Esplanade Cineplex. Bioscope magazine [as a distributor] and myself rent the theater for screening. The cinema operator itself has no responsibility," Nontawat is quoted as saying in The Nation.

Major Cineplex is also hosting screenings of Passakorn Pramoolwong and Pen-ek Ratanaruang's political documentary Pachatipathai (ประชาธิปไตย, a.k.a. Paradoxocracy).

I've heard rumors that the theater-chain's top brass have come under pressure for showing Pachatipathai – pressure that then led to the change of heart on Boundary. However, many advance tickets for Pachatipathai had been sold through Major's box offices, making it more difficult to pull that film without creating yet another international uproar about the Thai government's censorship.

Pachatipathai has been cleared by censors, who passed it with a G rating. But I suppose it's still possible that the theater chain could come under extralegal pressure to remove it. It's screening at 2 and 8 daily until July 10 at Paragon Cineplex (with English subtitles) and Esplanade Ratchada (no subs when I checked on Tuesday).

Boundary attained its 18+ rating only after a confusing go-round with the Film and Video sub-committee that initially banned it but then unbanned it. So this latest episode only adds to the film's mystique.

After it wraps up its run at Major Cineplex Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai on Sunday, Boundary (ฟ้าต่ำแผ่นดินสูง, Fahtum Pandinsoong) moves to the EGV Tesco Lotus in Khon Kaen on July 6 and 7 and then Major Cineplex Udon Thani on July 13 and 14. It's scheduled to return to Bangkok on July 18 for a run at the Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada.

Check the movie's Facebook page for details on booking tickets.

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