Court confirms ban on film related to 1976 student massacre

After five years of legal struggle, a court has confirmed a ban on a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’, which touches on sensitive historical topics.

On 11 August 2017, the Administrative Court maintained a ban on ‘Shakespeare Must Die’, a political film with references to the 6 October 1976 student massacre and the political violence during the red shirt demonstrations in 2009.

The leading character of the movie, called ‘Dear Leader’, is believed to be based on the controversial former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.   

Although the film received funding from the Ministry of Culture, it was rejected by the censors in 2012 on the grounds that parts of the film dealt with sensitive issues which could ‘divide people’.

The Ministry told Samanrat Kanjanavanit, the director, that the film could be shown in the country if certain parts were deleted. However, she refused.

In the same year, Samanrat and Manit Sriwanichpoom, the producer, filed a lawsuit against the censors, calling for the ban to be lifted and 7.5 million baht in compensation.

Samanrat said the ban is ‘partial’ and ‘unfair’, adding that the National Human Rights Commission concluded that the ban was a violation of rights and that the film has received awards and good reviews overseas.  

They said they will issue a request to appeal the ruling within 30 days.

A scene from ‘Shakespeare Must Die’