'Foul is fair': Shakespeare ban is lifted

'Foul is fair': Shakespeare ban is lifted

Manit Sriwanichpoom and some of the crew of Shakespeare Must Die staged a rally in front of Government House over a decade ago. They called for the government to end the banning of films altogether because it hinders the development of the Thai film industry. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Manit Sriwanichpoom and some of the crew of Shakespeare Must Die staged a rally in front of Government House over a decade ago. They called for the government to end the banning of films altogether because it hinders the development of the Thai film industry. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The Supreme Administrative Court ended an 11-year ban on domestic screenings of the controversial movie Shakespeare Tong Tai (Shakespeare Must Die) on Tuesday.

The warrant also ordered the Film Screening Committee under the former Culture Ministry, known informally as the Censorship Department, to compensate those involved with the film.

After the ruling was announced, artist and activist Manit Sriwanichpoom, who worked as a producer for the movie, took to his Facebook account, saying a screening schedule would be released later.

He hailed the decision as a historical high point for the movie industry.

"Finally, Shakespeare Must Die is free," he wrote in his post.

The film was directed by Samanrat "Ing" Kanjanavanit, or Ing K. It was originally planned to be screened in April 2012.

The movie was financially supported by the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC) under the former Yingluck Shinawatra administration's Thai Khem Kaeng scheme.

Adapted from William Shakespeare's famous tragedy Macbeth, the movie focuses on a theatre group in a fictional country resembling Thailand that is staging a production of the famous play, in which the ambitious general murders his way to the Scottish throne.

The ban was issued by Ms Yingluck's administration on April 3, 2012, reasoning that it was a national security threat due to the visual references to violent political crackdowns, including the Thammasat University protest of Oct 6, 1976, and Black May in 1992.

The production team had been seeking to get the ban overturned for more than a decade.

It was rescinded following a Jan 4 notice by the National Committee on Soft Power Development about regulating censorship, which the panel said should be limited mostly to risks of defaming the monarchy.

Those changes are expected to be completed in the middle of this year.

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