PHUKET: The Phuket Film Festival, scheduled for June 4 to 11, has been canceled.
The festival organizer, Scott Rosenberg, sent out a press release yesterday afternoon to call off the event. He cited fears of Phuket being in an “armed state” a few days “after” the festival as his reason for the cancellation.
“We sincerely apologize to our partners, our participating film makers and those on Phuket who were helping to make this international event happen,” said Rosenberg. “But with [the] creation of an armed state on Phuket for protection of the Asean meeting which will take place days after the festival is to end, we found that the ‘sanook’ (fun) we had promised folks was gone from the festival.”
In a reference to a sensationalist local blog ‘analysis’ about two weeks ago, Rosenberg went on to say that, “While the government has said that a curfew would not be put in place, the Army is reportedly sending in an additional 5,000 troops to the island [Phuket] to secure a peaceful [Asean] meeting. We just cannot take the chance.”
“Filmmakers view the world in terms of images. We don’t want them walking away from the Phuket Film Festival with memories of armed soldiers and tanks – no matter what the reason,” he added.
But some insiders have suggested that the real reason for the film festival cancellation had more to do with a shortfall in funding and sponsorships for the event than it did with concerns about troops and tanks. They cite the fact that the Asean meetings for Phuket had been mooted almost a month ago, and that recent news reports, public sentiment and repeated statements from potential protest groups had it that a peaceful Asean summit was likely.
About an hour after yesterday’s press release canceling the film festival, the Foreign Ministry announced that the Asean summit had been postponed until October. Nevertheless, the Phuket Film Festival remains canceled, the organizer says.
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