On Apr 3, the Thai Film Censorship Board, under the Department of Cultural Promotion of the Ministry of Culture, banned Shakespeare Must Die, a film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was said the film “causes divisiveness among the people of the nation.” Ironically, the movie had been funded by the Ministry of Culture’s Creative Thailand Project under the previous government. The day after the ban, we spoke to director Ing K (Citizen Juling) and director of photography Manit Sriwanichpoom (of the Pink Man photography series fame).
BK: What happens now?
MS: We have to make an appeal within 15 days. We have to draft a statement. We have to explain that we are not a threat to national security. We are not causing any divides. Why is Macbeth a threat to any nation?
BK: But this interpretation of Macbeth makes a connection to Thailand’s history and politics.
IK: It is about Shakespeare. I’m not doing Shakespeare as a gimmick. I really do love Shakespeare. He is like religion to me. He studies pathologies of the mind. Othello is about jealousy. Macbeth is about megalomania. It’s not just about Thaksin. Thaksin is not the only megalomaniac in this country. Every village has a megalomaniac. This whole country is a victim of megalomania. We live in fear. And this ban proves it.
BK: So it is political.
IK: I’m a filmmaker. I find it very odd that people say, this is not fair to the Red Shirts, this is not fair to the Royalists… We get it from both sides. All this is nonsense. We are talking about a horror movie! A Shakespearean horror movie. This is about fanatics. How Thai society can just erupt into Rwanda 1994. It’s happened before and it can happen again. If the hatemongers and propagandists continue to make our lives insane.
BK: If your appeal does succeed, will screening be an issue?
IK: They [movie theaters] are terrified. Everyone is living in terror. We don’t know. We’re not fortune tellers. And by then we don’t even know if the country will still be standing. Seriously. Any moment, things can go completely berserk.
BK: What reaction do you want from the audience?
MS: We want national self-examination.
IK: I’m not fighting Thaksin, Red Shirts, anything. I am fighting the propaganda, all the ads washing over your brain all the time. We don’t want to show something that makes people feel like they’re not human unless they buy this or live like this. We want something that makes them think and have discussions.
BK: Is reconciliation a filmmaker’ s responsibility?
IK: Reconciliation is such a dirty word.
MS: When we met the committee of censors, that is the first thing they said, “We are in a climate of reconciliation. This film might cause a problem.” What are they talking about? Reconciliation with who? First you have to ask, what is the problem? Only one side can talk and the other group must shut up. How can they call this reconciliation? Read the full interview.