Bangkok film festival urged to avoid deep south torture movies

Photo via กรุงเทพมหานคร โดยสำนักงานประชาสัมพันธ์

The Internal Security Operation Command urged Bangkok’s open-air film festival to avoid screening movies or documentaries related to torture in the deep south provinces of Thailand. The military department said the event should only bring happiness and smiles to residents.

Bangkok’s open-air film festival, which rolled out the red carpet on July 7 at Laan Kon Mueng space in front of the Bangkok City Hall, is offering free entrance to cinemagoers until the event closes at the end of this month.

On July 14, the open-air film event, at Khlong Toei Youth Centre in Khlong Toei District, screened an Indian movie RRR, which is about human rights violations and abuses by police officers. To complement the theme, the screening team picked two short documentaries about torture and abuses done by state officers in the deep south provinces as the opening show.

On July 16, two days after the event, political activist, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, revealed on Facebook that the event didn’t go as well as planned.

Mike said six officers from the Internal Security Operation Command interrupted the screening at Khlong Toei Youth Centre on July 14. He said the officers asked the team to stop screening the documentaries about the torture in the deep south of Thailand.

The media interviewed Mike on July 18 to get more details about the issue. He explained that the Thai authorities told the screening team, “We are here because it’s our duty. Our leader doesn’t like movies about torture. It’s a threat to our national security.”

Mike said the team continued screening the documentaries despite the officers’ presence in the youth centre until the end of the event. He added that the officers didn’t stop the film rolling and everything went well without any violent reactions.

A representative from the Cross Culture Foundation that produced the documentaries, Ponpen Kongkajonkiat, explained that the documentaries were under a project named Siang Jak Dan Tai, which means Voices from the South, and it was completed last month.

The project featured three short films, including Jud Rerm Ton (The Begining), Kam Sara Parp (The Confession), and Se Ree Parp (Freedom).

Ponpen said two of the films that were picked, Jud Rerm Ton, and Kam Sara Parp, depict real situations happening to residents in the deep south. Interviews with residents reveal that they were tortured by the Thai authorities into confessing information. Ponpen stated that violence and abuse are still going on today.

“Film is an art piece and a way of communication. It comes from the real stories which no one can conceal even if they tried. The space for art and a short film that tell people the truth about Thai society is needed. Don’t be more authoritarian than it is now.”

Yesterday, the spokesperson of the Internal Security Operation Command, Winthachai Suwaree, clarified the issue. He said some details were inaccurate and there has been a misunderstanding.

Winthachai said the officers explained to the Cross Culture Foundation staff that they felt the documentaries might not suitable to screen at the event.

The spokesperson insisted no officers threatened any of the screening team and that in the end, everyone agreed that the open-air film festival was a good thing for Bangkok and something worth supporting.

SOURCE: Thairath | Prachathai

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger focusing on Thai news and what's happening in Thailand. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp.