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Thai films can shine globally but strategic thinking is required, experts say
SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2023
Long-term strategies and goals are required to ensure that Thailand’s film industry shines globally, industry experts told a seminar at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre on Saturday.
The seminar was part of the three-day Bangkok Film Festival hosted by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) as part of its strategy to promote Bangkok as a capital for creativity. The film festival wraps up on Sunday.
Thanwarin Sukpisit, member of the Thai Film Directors Association’s board of directors, said the emergence of video streaming services gave viewers more alternatives for watching films without diminishing the value of films.
Thailand’s film industry must be developed with long-term thinking, and it should start with raising awareness of the arts among the general public because awareness levels are low, she said.
She used an analogy to explain that there was too much focus on literal interpretation. “For example, a student who draws an orange with durian skin may get zero points in art class without being given the chance to explain why they drew it that way,” she said.
Thanwarin also said that criticism of films was often based on a lack of awareness about the arts.
Censorship should be eliminated from Thailand so that people can think freely, she added.
Thanwarin also urged the government to provide more support for filmmakers, such as setting up a fund to support making films and helping filmmakers get permission to use locations for shooting.
Making films in Thailand is difficult due to complex regulations and it is not a financially lucrative profession, she said, noting that filmmakers have low incomes compared to other jobs.
She advised filmmakers to pay more attention to attracting audiences. Simply using films as tools to promote Thailand’s soft power by focusing on things like food and places risks making the films meaningless, she warned.
“We can set up our target [to promote Thailand among foreigners], but attracting [Thai] audiences must come first,” she said, adding that audiences will eventually be interested in Thailand’s soft power if the content of the films produced here is appealing enough.
Thai filmmaker Banjong Pisanthanakun and Thai actress Manatsanun Panlertwongskul said they were facing a hard time careerwise due to the Covid-19 crisis and emergence of video streaming services.
“Thailand’s film industry can be developed similar to South Korea’s, but it must be developed carefully,” Banjong said, adding that the government and filmmakers must work together.
Thai films have the potential to shine globally if the industry receives government support, he said.
Manatsanun said most Thai filmmakers decided to work with overseas agencies due to the complexity in filmmaking regulations and insufficient funds in Thailand.
“Thailand’s film industry needs more assistance in order to move ahead,” she said. The film industry can help promote tourist attractions and culture, as well as create jobs, she added.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Sanon Wangsrangboon said promoting Thailand’s film industry was part of the BMA’s plan to promote the capital as a city for everyone.
Sanon also vowed to cooperate with relevant agencies to promote Thailand’s film industry.
He said the BMA would set up a one-stop service to facilitate requests from filmmakers to shoot in specific locations and create a network to attract students to enter the film industry.
The BMA needs to talk with the Interior Ministry to set up a fund to support Thailand’s film industry, Sanon said.
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