PANAJI: Although Thailand has been
vigorously promoting itself as an ideal film shooting location with
state-of-the-art fimmaking equipment, it's film industry stalwarts say the irony
lies in the fact that its very own film industry lacks government support. One
filmmaker even went on to say that he is 'jealous' of the bond shared between
the Indian government and its film industry.
Globally acclaimed Thai
director Nonzee Nimibutr said, "The Thai film industry still needs a lot of
improvement. This year for instance, the industry has been severely hit by the
recession. I for one haven't been able to make a single movie this year because
of the meltdown.
Moreover, the poor economic situation of the
country and conflicts between filmmakers and the government has hindered the
Nonzee, who is largely credited for ushering a
new era in Thai cinema, adds that the government is yet to recognize films and
filmmaking as a powerful medium of societal change.
"It still thinks
that movies are only made for commercial gain. As a result, many good films turn
into flops at the box office because of lack of adequate funding and publicity.
Moreover, Hollywood movies screened in Thai cinemas, especially summer
blockbusters, make it even harder for Thai films to gain
Thai filmmakers usually take up social issues in their
plots. Actor May Patravarin says, "The number one issue depicted is drug
addiction which, incidentally, is very rampant in Thailand. This is followed by
child abuse, prostitution and religious and political unrest.
Thai government only supports the performing arts and films which support its
views. Otherwise, the film industry relies on the Japanese, Canadian, Korean and
Indian industries for financial support," Patravarin, who has also acted
opposite famed Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage, said.
Vittayathep adds, "The company I work for is currently producing a film on drug
addiction, which is funded mostly by the government."
and one of the directors of the Bangkok International Film Festival Yong Yoot
Thongkengtoom, however, says that efforts are being made to turn it around.
"We are trying our best (to make the government change its views
about cinema). Although we see a light at the end of the tunnel, we hope the
road is not too far away. So far, only the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
has shown interest in funding indigenous films," he said.
"I am, in
fact, proud and jealous of the bond the Indian government shares with its film
industry. While India makes numerous films within a year, Thailand manages a
maximum of 40. Out of these only five turn out to be hits at the box office.
"What is sadder is that 60% of the filmmaking process relies on
sponsorships. Rampant piracy also hinders the industry to a great extent,
because a movie becomes available on DVDs much before its release in cinemas,"
said Yong, whose film 'Best of Times', being screened at the Iffi is Thailand's
entry at this year's Oscars.