Discussion of pro-democracy detainees cut from film award ceremony speeches

In a video recording of the 29th annual Bangkok Critics Assembly film award ceremony, references to imprisoned pro-democracy activists were cut from the speeches of awardees from ‘School Town King’, a film that took home seven awards.

The award ceremony on 24 December 2021. (Source:Youtube/ Bangkok Critics Assembly)

According to a 4 January Man On Film Facebook post, references to the detainees in the speeches of every awardee but one were cut from a nearly five-hour long video of the award ceremony, held on 24 December 2021 at Lido Connect in Bangkok.  The only speech not  ‘edited’ was given by Sinjai Plengpanich, who accepted an award on behalf of M.L. Pundhevanop Dhewakul.

In a separate Facebook post, School Town King director Wattanapume Laisuwanchai said that a total of seven speeches were cut, including one by his film’s editor Harin Paesongthai, who received an award for his work.

In his speech, Harin said that the film sought to address inequality and oppression in society, “not only in the education system … [but the social] system where we are dominated from the smallest unit to the largest, by the people on top.”

He added that he wanted to: “… use this opportunity to support and stand with the fighters who are being unfairly detained. Free our friends. There are still people suffering, detained because of the injustice of the system … I believe that there will be a better day for us. Justice must take place.”

In an online post Wattanapume decried the deletion of the comments as “unbelievable”. Noting that state support for the filmmaking industry in Thailand was negligible, he argued that filmmakers should be free to air their views, as well as to thank supporters and those who work behind the scenes.

“School Town King tries to speak for the voices that have been suppressed, the voices of the people in this country that have been overlooked.  I find it incredible that, even on the awards stage, cuts would be made to the air time given for each person’s speech. I am not sure why.  Was it politics?”

“Go back and listen to each speech.  No accusations were made.  No lies were spoken.  No rude words were uttered.   Instead, they spoke of things that have actually happened in this society, things we see in the news everyday.”

School Town King tells the story of ‘Book’ and ‘Non’, two youngsters from Khlong Toei, a densely-populated slum in the middle of Bangkok.  The pair dream of becoming famous rap artists, but their daily lives are a struggle framed by the inequity of the Thai society order.

The actor Thanayut ‘Book’ Na Ayudhya and Kontai Poonlab received an excellent film score award for their song ‘Freestyle’.   According to a post by Thanayut, a.k.a. Elevenfinger, his rap performance addressing the persecution of pro-democracy protesters was deleted from the video as well.

Bangkok Critics Assembly had been giving awards to people in the Thai filmmaking sector since 1991.



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