- Posted September 9, 2013 by
"There is no space for me" Challenging Thai censorship through motion pictures
corrected by Peter Blumenfeld, Bangkok, 09 September 2013
"There is no space for me"... proved to be the wrong title for the winning short movie.
Aam and his team from Commetive Production in Bangkok, Thailand positioned themselves right amongst the winners this Saturday 07 September 2013 at an event showcasing the boundaries of civil rights, the very boundaries that can be pushed open, against the censorship of the ruling powers. A one-day film presentation par excellence here at Bacc in the heart of Bangkok.
There have not been many times that Bangkok could stage a provocative yet intelligent event against the ruling morality in politics and in the establishment, using motion media to challenge not only what the law says but also the very basic values of traditional Thai society.
The major message, the red line that can be detected watching the short stories presented at Bacc, is the notion of an awareness that any power becomes corrupt at all levels, whether it is in politics, religion, or whoever such power may be representing. As it eventually becomes counter-progressive, blocking anybody or anything that dares to challenge its position, clash is unavoidable. That, at least, is what history teaches us.
Even at Bacc, if a movies deal with an issue expressed by Thai intellectuals searching for democracy, then Thais are at this moment joining into an international mainstream effort to seek a more balanced society and look into the future.
Do we see a new page being turned over with today’s manifestation of soul searching and values, re-examining the perception Thai people of themselves?
Some of the short films are brilliant testimonials and tell a story of a new time and of new values emerging. Actually, it may be valid or better to say that we are witnessing today a manifestation of a more mature democracy seeking from a new generation of Thai people.
Yet with all due respect to all the efforts made by the film makers and organizers, the feeling one gets at the end of the show remains that the true issues addressed in a majority of these short movies have not really been exposed. They have not been dealt with by highlighting the problems that Thai people face from less obvious directions, more subdued, and even in hidden agendas.
Such topics include the social gap between various levels of Thai society and the role of the state addressing the issue;
Traffic horrors with the car industry aggressively expanding while the transport infrastructure is lagging far behind.
Brain-washing by TV channels offering no alternative to devastating soap operas of the worst kind, suggesting that all that Thai people do is screaming, slapping faces, and watching TV commercials.
Noise pollution at any level is becoming widely accepted and no one seems to care about the psychological effect on the brain that noise creates, if exposed for too long a time.
Communication between people is becoming reduced to the use of all kinds of devices – like tablets - gradually transforming the young Thai generation into single individuals with a lack of social interaction as real people rather than through the filters of the artificial digital world.
In addition, greedy capitalists, renouncing anything or anybody that is not in line to bring profit back is an issue neglected or has been missed out.
Marginal, alternative ways of living is losing space and it’s voice due to a much more aggressive brother called “capital.”
Nature and green was once the reason to travel to Thailand, as well as its natural beauty, simple life, and truly kind people. These values begin to vanish year by year, replaced by a business-centered attitude at all levels. Is the Thai establishment aware that it is losing competitive ground to new, more virgin countries, for example Myanmar, not to mention awakening continent of Africa?
Why would I want to visit Siam Square - to give an example - if I can do the have or even get a more sophisticated version of the same concrete jungle at home, whether this is called Times Square in New York, Piazza dell Duomo in Milan, or Les Champs Elysées in Paris, etc...?
Have any of these issues touched the Thai heart and soul?
Should the next focus point of the filmmaking cameras be redirected?
Should Thai democracy be seeking to make individuals listen to the voices of problems when no one seems to have raised those very voices yet?
Actually, I should not use words describing names at all in this article, or name countries, or people anymore. The internet is teaching us about a common human behavior wherever we go in this planet. It is a single behavior that disregards the social structure of any given society or religion, and even excludes time as a determining factor. The common conclussion is that greedy, expansive human mind looks for only to gain profit regardless of the consequences this may create. The same syndrom as described above related to Thai life can be found in all over the world.
Capital seem to be a new enemy. It is taking over Thai values today, at least in Bangkok, and we have seen the same thing happening in 19th century Britain, and again in the 1960s and 70s in Italy. Thailand is no exception in this phenomenon.
While filmmakers are focusing on so-called “critical issues” like the fight between political opponents, corruption and criminality within the police force, or Thai monk groups, or even addressing aggression on the street, all of these issues appear to be kids’ games compared to the real danger described above and the damage that Thai society is faced with by Bangkok becoming a big concrete jungle where the only law that regulates life is called profit.
What about the rest of the 99% of the people who do not fit into this trend?
The Thai king might be one of the topics that can not be discussed in Thai society, yet he is, in my understanding, a figure who still remains as one of those outstanding symbols advocating a self-sufficiency economy at a time when the danger of greedy capital turning us all into dependable slaves can not even be imagined.
These are some of the issues described in movies I saw pouring out from Young filmakers minds and hearts at Bacc yesterday. I observe the same stories emerging from countries as varied as Island, Greece, Italy, the USA, to name but a few.
What is the lesson to be learned here for advocates of social progress and those who will present themselves as in this case filmmakers did?
Despite issues being omitted, all the merit goes to those filmmakers who had the guts to present their view through the motion media and to those individuals who stood up and show-cased those messages to the rest of us.
Bravo and well done.
Bangkok, 08 September 2013