Gov’t ready to consider pic ratings

The film industry's moneymaking prospects opens eyes

BANGKOK — An equitable ratings system and better support for the film industry are two of the provisos in a new motion picture bill proposed in Thailand.

Local government is making an effort to revamp outdated movie laws, some going back 74 years. The proposed bill will create a Motion Picture Council to assign film ratings for the first time in the country.

Since 1930, state censorship has been a key barrier to growing the film industry.

Some members of the Thai film industry have also charged that Thai films are more strictly regulated than American films, with topless Thai women banned and topless American actresses approved, for example .

The Federation of Film Association of Thailand has been trying to get a new film act approved for 14 years, but until recently, the government was unresponsive. The recent success of some Thai films outside the country has finally opened officials’ eyes to the possibility that the film industry can be an important revenue center.

The current censorship board is composed of state agency officials and police officers who are authorized to chop scenes of movies considered unsuitable for Thai society — even though the board members may have no adequate background or appropriate knowledge of film. Existing controls are mainly aimed at restricting, rather than supporting, the film industry.

Bolstering local prod’n

Under the proposed law now under consideration, the council’s task would be to assign film ratings and play a supportive role in finding ways to upgrade the industry, according to Weerasak Kowsurat, cultural vice minister.

Kowsurat says the ratings system will be defined to fit Thai society, not copied directly from systems used in the United States or Europe.

He also says ratings board members will come from different fields such as relevant state agencies, moviegoers, movie producers and parents in order to make fair decisions.

Movie directors and producers are welcoming the move, with Prawatsart Kunchorn Na Ayutthaya, distribution director of RS Film, saying it will bring progress to the industry.

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