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Thailand Bans Screening of Orwell Film "1984"

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by Anthony Kaufman
June 12, 2014 9:26 AM
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Thailand's political unrest continues to get wrapped up with cinema. After the three-finger salute from "The Hunger Games" became a symbol of resistance among protestors, now a screening of Michael Radford's 1984 adaptation of the dystopian George Orwell classic has been cancelled in the Northern region of Changmai after police warned, "it breached a ban on political gatherings," according to a report published in the English-language daily The Bangkok Post, sourced from Agence France-Press (AFP).

Scheduled to screen the acclaimed film, which stars Richard Burton and John Hurt, on Saturday, the Punya Movieclub in Chiang Mai reportedly decided to cancel the showing after police said it would be illegal, according to an organizer who did not want to be named.

"We just wanted to show the content of the film because many people are talking about it right now... We show all types of movies. We didn't want to start a political movement," he said.

The anti-totalitarian novel has become a symbol for protestors, according to the report. One form of resistance to the military coup has been small "reader" groups sitting on public walkways reading the book. Last week, protesters unfurled a giant poster of the face of military leader General Prayuth with the words "Thailand 1984."

Political assemblies of more than five people were recently banned under martial law, but this is the first time the law has been applied to a movie screening. 

For Keyframe, I recently wrote a story linking another film, Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s "Headshot," to the political upheaval: The dizzying revenge thriller, I argue, reflects upon the country’s current unrest, and expresses, more profoundly, a widespread frustration with Thailand’s dysfunctional political status quo as well as the desire for change.

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