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Thailand has selected the controversial film “Arpat” as its contender for the foreign-language Academy Awards race.

Directed by Kanittha Kwunyoo, the film tells the story of a young man who is forced by his father to become a monk. The young man later develops an intimate relationship with a village girl.

Its commercial release in October last year was delayed after censors, under pressure from religious groups, initially banned it. They later relented and gave it an 18+ certificate after Kwunyoo and producer Prachya Pinkaew cut it by more than two minutes and changed its title from “Arbat” to “Arpat.”

Distributed by Sahamongkolfilm, the film earned some $1.45 million (THB50 million) at the local box office.

Censors had objected to scenes portraying Buddhist monks involved with sex, violence and alcohol. Both the ban and the subsequent lifting of it sparked considerable social media activity. Opponents of censorship raised an online petition signed by over 100,000 people, while many queried double standards.

The selection was made by the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand. The committee had also considered four other titles: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s romance “Snap… Kae Dai Kid Tueng,” Pimpaka Towira’s “The Island Funeral” (“Maha Samut Lae Susaan”,) Ekachai Srivichai’s “Serd” and Boonsong Nakphoo’s “Wandering” (“Thudongkhawat”.)