Ban on film 'Boundary' lifted

The government censorship board on Thursday lifted its ban on a documentary film on Thai-Cambodia border conflicts, citing a "technical mistake" on its part.

The reversal marks the first time a ban on a film in Thailand has been lifted. 

The board, however, has asked the filmmaker to remove a portion of background sound from the film.

Directed by Nontawat Numbenchapol, Fah Tam Pan Din Soon, or Boundary, was banned on Tuesday by the sub-committee of the National Film and Video Board on grounds that it was misleading and a threat to national security.

The video clip below, uploaded by Mr Nontawat, shows excerpts from Boundary. The song played in the video is Lai Ton (ไหลถอน) by Jintara Poonlarp - the official soundtrack of the documentary.

The censors phoned Mr Nonthawat on Thursday to apologise for the mistake and to inform him about their revised decision. 

Mr Nontawat agreed to their request to make a slight alteration by muting a few seconds of ambient soundtrack. 

The scene in question takes place at the New Year celebration at Ratchaprasong intersection. An announcer on stage can be heard saying: "Let's count down to celebrate His Majesty the King's 84th anniversary."

The film has received an age 18-plus rating.

"That section of sound has no significant bearing in the narrative of the film," Mr Nontawat said. "It's just in the background, so I think it's fine to remove it."

In explaining the about-turn, censor office director Pradit Posew said the sub-committee, which had previously banned the film, acted beyond its jurisdiction.

Only the main committee can decide on an outright ban, Mr Pradit said.

He also said that protocol should have permitted the director to defend his case in advance of a ban ruling by the committee. Mr Nontawat was given no such opportunity on Tuesday to defend his film.

The main committee, of which some members sit on the sub-committee, viewed the film on Thursday and overturned the initial order.

On Tuesday, the sub-committee objected to several points in the film that deal with international and domestic politics, but the main committee saw no problem with any of them. 

This is the first time that a ban on a film has been lifted.

The five-member censorship panel, under the Ministry of Culture, said initially on Tuesday that the Thai-produced film could "persuade viewers to falsely believe" incorrect information, and was a threat to national security and international relations.

The ban on Boundary made headlines in international news media, including the GuardianWashington Post and the Hollywood Reporter.

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About the author

Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Deputy Life Editor