Ing K & Manit Sriwanichpoom’s film Shakespeare Must Die, an adaptation of Macbeth serving as an allegory of Thaksin Shinawatra’s ruthless pursuit of power, was banned last year by the Thai Film Board. The filmmaker’s then decided to chronicle their treatment by the authorities with Censor Must Die. Shakespeare Must Die is a political film that was ironically partially funded by the government only to be later banned by the government. It’s banning is much more about censorship within the Thai film community in general then it is about one film being denied an audience. Theirs is but one voice among many that should be given time on the public stage.
There has been good news, alas. Censor Must Die was not…censored. Hopefully this is the beginning of more openness within the film industry here in Thailand.
I saw a screening and I highly recommend it for those interested in learning more about the process of vetting films in Thailand. Quite memorable was hearing Ing K’s harrowing appeals to the Cultural Ministry.
There will be more from me about their work.
More information below from the filmmakers:
“Censor Must Die is exempted from the film censorship process and has been given permission from the Film and Video Censorship Committee, by the power of the 2008 Royal Edict on Film and Video, Article 27(1)”, because “the producer of Censor Must Die made the film from events that really happened.”
“They killed Shakespeare, so they must die. Censor must die. Censor, not the censors, not the Film Board, but Censor the monstrous entity embedded in Thai society, a lumbering prehistoric beast with prejudices and a life of its own. It is this that must be slain by those among its victims who dare to challenge dinosaurs where angels fear to tread and reason does not exist.
When ‘Shakespeare Must Die’, a Thai adaptation of ‘Macbeth’, that supreme song of tyrannical rule, is banned by the Yingluck Shinawatra government for reasons of national security, producer Manit Sriwanichpoom begins an epic trek through the corridors of power to unban his Shakespearean horror movie; from the Cultural Ministry, that had funded and then banned his film, to the Senate and the Human Rights Commission, all the way to the Administrative Court where he is suing the government for abuse of power.
Wherever he went, amidst political upheaval in a land of fear, a camera followed him, into secret places long hidden from the sun, where witnesses are not welcome. The resulting cinema verite is the living story of a struggle for justice and human dignity, for the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which Thai filmmakers do not have. This is cinematic democracy in action, in all its obscene and heartbreaking details; a dark record of events farcical enough to be enjoyed as a comedy.”