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Thai Film Association calls for boycotting the Bangkok Fest

The Federation of National Film Association of Thailand whose 940 members represent 11 branches of the film industry in the Kingdom today called on its members to boycott the Bangkok International Film Festival which will take place February 17-27, 2006.

In an emergency meeting of its Executive Committee last Friday, January 20th, the Federation decided on the harsh action after agreeing that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), organizers of the Festival had failed to cooperate with the Federation.

Sorasak Sunpituksaree, Deputy Secretary General of the Federation said that unlike the previous Bangkok International Film Festivals run by TAT, this year the Federation was “left out” of planning.

“There are three specific areas we were excluded,” Sunpituksaree said. “The first was in arranging the film market which is done through Film Festival Management, the Los Angles Office of the Festival. The second was in programming films – our members know Thai films the best, but this year we were not asked for input by TAT in Bangkok or by Festival programmers in LA. And finally, each year we have worked with TAT to help promote and advertise the Festival through Thai “channels”: this year they claimed they have a reduced budget and would have no funds for Federation use.”

Organizers spent a reported US $10 million on the 2005 Bangkok International Film Festival.

Mr. Sunpituksaree asked all Thai directors and producers to withdraw their films from the Festival even going as far as asking Major Cineplex Group to not allow use of their theaters for Festival screenings.

Sunpituksaree said Federation president Somsak Techaratanaprasert met earlier this week with Major Cineplex CEO Vicha Poolveraluk to request Major honor the boycott. Poolveraluk reportedly replied that Major could not honor the Boycott since the Festival was taking place at the new Siam Paragon location which the Thai Government was heavily promoting as a cornerstone to Bangkok’s development as a world class tourism center. He apparently did agree to withdraw screenings from the near by Siam Discovery EGV theater which is part of the Major Group. However in today’s Bangkok Post, EGV was still cited as an additional screening location.

The second largest Thai exhibitors, SF Cinema City, were not asked by TAT to participate in this year’s Festival according to SF deputy managing director Suvannee Chinchiewchan. “For a Film Festival that is supposed to celebrate film and bring together those in the Thai film industry, we find it rather strange that we were not asked to participate,” Ms. Chinchiewchan said.

Mr. Sunpituksaree added the Federation would not ask acclaimed Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang to withdraw his film, “Invisible Waves” as the opening film of the Bangkok International Film Festival. The film is also in competition in the International awards category.

“Pen-ek’s film is a co-production and falls outside the purview of the Federation”, Sunpituksaree said.

Representatives of The Tourism Authority of Thailand press office could not be reached for comment.
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