Trouble in a So-Called Paradise

The very talented Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Mysterious Object at Noon, Tropical Malady, Blissfully Yours) has run into a serious roadblock with his latest film, Syndromes and a Century. Unless he authorizes four cuts in the film, the Thai censorship board will not allow it to be released in his native country. At present, the censors are essentially holding the print of the film hostage. Weerasethakul has said of the dilemma:

“I, a filmmaker, treat my works as my own sons or my daughters. When I conceived them, they have their own lives to live. I don't mind if people are fond of them, or despise them, as long as I created them with my best intentions and efforts. If these offspring of mine cannot live in their own country for whatever reasons, let them be free. Since there are other places that warmly welcome them as who they are, there is no reason to mutilate them from the fear of the system, or from greed. Otherwise there is no reason for one to continue making art.”

There is an on-line petition protesting these cuts and the generally hidebound procedures for clearing a film for commercial release in Thailand, which you can find at

I am an admirer of Weerasethakul's work, but even if I weren't I would sign this petition. Indeed, I'd do that for any filmmaker, even Mel Gibson or Leni Riefenstahl (although I sure wouldn't be happy about having to defend those two).