The Thai censorship appeals committee has upheld the decision to cut four scenes from the art-house movie Saeng Satawat (Syndromes and a Century) and ordered the director to cut an additional scene as well. We upheld the verdict because
the movie contains inappropriate images of doctors and monks, said Police Major-General Somdej Khaokam of the Central Investigation Bureau, who chaired the hearing yesterday.
The film's director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, appealed after the Censorship Board ordered him to cut four scenes from Saeng Satawat last April.
These scenes featured a monk playing a guitar, doctors drinking whisky, doctors kissing and two monks playing with a radio-controlled toy.
The appeal committee ordered him to also cut a scene showing statues of Prince Mahidol of Songkhla and the late Princess Mother.
Apichatpong, who defended his case before the committee, expressed his extreme disappointmentL It was like I was on trial for being a communist . But he said he would cut the film as instructed: I will release the mutilated version as a
statement and as a historical record of Thailand.
After dealing with the censorship of his film for nearly a year, Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul will finally screen his acclaimed Sang Sattawat (Syndromes and a Century), with silent, black frames to replace six scenes
the Board of Censors found objectionable.
It's cynical, but actually it's a statement for the audience to make them aware that they are being blinded from getting information in this society, says the director.
Apichatpong first planned to show Syndromes last April in a limited release in Bangkok cinemas, but he cancelled the screenings when the censors said four scenes had to go. A petition against the action was started, and the director formed
the Free Thai Cinema Movement to call for better treatment for filmmakers.
With the election of a new government and a new film law on the books, Apichatpong said he submitted his film to the censors again, hoping they would view it differently. The censors asked that two more scenes be excised.
I was wrong. It's worse than the first time, but it was still worth the effort. I learned that the problem with the new film law is not the law itself, but the people who will be enforcing it, he says.
For a limited-release screening by the Thai Film Foundation, Syndromes will have the six censored scenes replaced by silent, scratched black frames - the longest of which runs for seven minutes.
Banned Thai political drama Shakespeare Must Die , directed by Ing K, will be among the films screening in the Asian Competition section of the 6th Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival (CinDi).
The director said at the opening ceremony:
I thank CinDi for inviting my film even though they had to ship it under a secret name -- Teenage Love Story -- because the film is banned in Thailand, where people live in fear. I'm suing the government so I shouldn't even be here.
We are fighting because in Thailand, directors have less than human rights. But I promise Shakespeare Must Die is not boring. I made it like a Mexican soap opera and a Thai horror film. You can see it, even though Thai people can't see it.