The Thai film classification system has now been running for one year.
Thai movie Namtal Daeng , or Brown Sugar , promises that the story will be about sex, and perhaps love.
Brown Sugar , an ensemble of three erotic
tales by twenty-something directors, has passed the rating committee with an 18-plus classification _ and without a cut. In the actual film, yes, you'll see women's nipples, the whenever-wherever seduction, and the simulated love-making.
Two months ago, Sukit Narin released his racy, cleavage-obsessed
Pu Ying Ha Babb 2 (Sin Sisters 2). Five women recount their sexual experiences and reveal the upper part of their bodies (some using stand-ins). The film was also passed without a cut, but with a 20-plus classification, which stipulates ID check
at the entrance. Sin Sisters 2 was later re-edited to make it milder and was released on VCD and DVD, with an 18-plus rating.
The issue at hand is apparent: Are Thai films ready for sex and explicit titillation? Has the much-derided rating
system opened up new possibilities for filmmakers to show things _ and organs _ that couldn't be shown on the big multiplex screen under the old censorship law? Breasts, sure. Penises, yes. Masturbation, why not? People bobbing and moaning, quite okay,
Beyond flesh, what about sensitive politics, crooked politicians, bad cops, charlatan monks, southern unrest, Islamic issues, or a cinematic prime minister announcing a State of Emergency _ will those be allowed to show on the big screen as
By law, breasts go under the 18-plus category and no ID check is required. Penises, 20-plus. Simulated sex is either 18 or 20, depending on the intensity. But when it comes to violence or disturbing visuals, the rule isn't so clear.
Last year, a Thai independent movie showing clips of the Tak Bai incident was banned from showing at a local film festival. Earlier in 2010, action film
Suay Samurai was ordered to cut a scene showing gunmen opening fire into a mosque, or facing a ban. A horror, Haunted Universities , was also instructed to delete a shot alluding to soldiers shooting at students during the Oct 14, 1973
For now, it seems that flesh and passion have found a leeway to the big screen. It's possible now to see local breasts in the multiplex _ it's well known that the censorship has been more lenient with non-Thai nipples.
Without the new rating system, I don't think it would have been possible to make a film like
Brown Sugar , said Prachya Pinkaew, advisor of the project: With the old censorship system, the investors didn't dare put the money in a film like this since it could face a ban, and directors didn't want to risk doing a movie that would be
The first Thai film to be slapped with a 20-plus grade was an arthouse drama, Jao Nokkrajok , or Mundane History , earned for a scene showing a naked man trying to arouse his own penis in a bathtub.
If sex has
received a green light, the next boundary to push is politics. No matter how conservative Thai authority can seem when it comes to flesh-flashing movies, they can be even more reactionary and paranoid when politics is served up in films. Hardly a Thai
picture has touched on the hot waters of politics, despite the fact that this is the period in history where politics is most inseparable from Thai life.