Film to be screened free to dodge censorship

BANGKOK (AFP): Organizers of the Bangkok Film Festival refused today to cut scenes from a controversial Dutch film and said they would hold free screenings in order to avoid violating a censorship law passed in the 1930s. Festival director Brian Bennett said he had been told by police that the film “Jesus was a Palestinian” would have to be cancelled unless a sex scene was cut from it. “We have looked at the law and there is a caveat that says as long as you don’t sell tickets, the police can’t fine or jail you,” said Bennett. “So we are going to buy all the tickets and make it a free screening. “Someone is obviously trying to sabotage the festival,” he said, adding that police had acted on an anonymous complaint. Bennett said Supatra Masdit, a minister attached to the prime minister’s office, had earlier assured festival organizers that their films would be exempt from censorship. He said organizers had received a letter saying that this year they would not have to submit films to the police before screening, but that they would be held accountable for any films that breached censorship laws. Bennett said he expected more censorship problems to arise during the festival and warned that local filmmakers were very nervous about screening their films. “I’m expecting more problems, because if they really want to get us they will be able to [do so],” he said. Bennett warned that Thailand’s censorship laws were hurting its tiny film industry. “Thai film-makers feel very inhibited because of the censorship law and they feel that there are topics, like religion or sexuality, which cannot be used, so their creativity is substantially hampered,” he said. “That is part of the reason why the Thai industry has such problems competing with Hollywood films,” he added. Bennett said Thai censors seemed to be operating under a double standard. “A Hollywood film like Boogie Nights can come in and show nudity and sexual scenes, but the same standards don’t apply to Thai films,” he said.

Phuket News

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