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in Filmmaking
on Apr 18, 2008

A couple of weeks back, we posted an email from U.K. producer Keith Griffiths about the Thai censorship of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century. Now, over at FilmInFocus, where Griffiths is maintaining a regular and quite erudite blog, he updates us with stories of the butchered film’s screenings in Thailand (audiences must sit through several-minute-long sequences of black leader) in a long post that winds its way through a discussion of Walter Benjamin and his Arcades Project, the Degenerate Art Show and Marshall McLuhan’s The Mechanical Bride.

An excerpt:

Unlike the Degenerate Art show in Munich of 1937, thousands of people regretfully did not show up at the Siam Paragon — probably only a hundred accompanied by many television news crews. The show apparently opened with a discussion and Apichatpong recognizes that he was tired and has written that he “became very aggressive lambasting the stagnant system that we are floating in… Something possessed me and I couldn’t help it. Somehow I thought this was useless in this glitzy cineplex…but this was the last chance to display my accumulated anger. This was not only about this film…there are countless films, self censored, censored, banned. Where is the audience’s voice? In a way it was liberating but while watching the film, I felt so bad of course. It was the most stupid film ever shown. (Even though I enjoyed the black scratches…) Somehow with some scenes removed, especially the longest one, it completely changed the movie. When you consider that the cut scenes don’t have much narrative connection with the others, the movie just fell apart…so, it is really a corpse, not a film.”

Unsurprisingly quite a number of people, both Thai and foreign visitors, complained to the cinema about the film when they were confronted with “meaningless blackness”. The cinema was forced to display a board at the ticket booth explaining what was actually screening and that they should only see it, at their own risk. “I feel sorry for the unknown audience to have to put up with our ‘statement.’ But come to think of it, this is amazing…maybe this will be only one time we could do this in a commercial theater here.”

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