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TUESDAY, June 06, 2023
Boycott prompts ‘Thai Oscars’ to scrap ‘discriminatory’ eligibility regulation

Boycott prompts ‘Thai Oscars’ to scrap ‘discriminatory’ eligibility regulation

SATURDAY, April 01, 2023

Thailand’s most prestigious film awards on Friday swiftly scrapped controversial eligibility requirements that would have restricted the coveted awards to big-budget films, following widespread calls for a boycott of the awards by actors, directors, and film buffs.

The new eligibility requirements for the Suphannahong National Film Awards announced on Thursday restricted awards to films screened in the country’s five major provinces and seen by 50,000 people.

This would have made an award-winning film like “Anatomy of Time” ineligible for the awards.

The awards have lost all credibility, Sarawuth Kaewnamyen, the film’s production designer, told Thai-language media.

Actors and directors called for a boycott of the awards organised by National Federation of Thai Film Associations, saying eligibility requirements discriminated against independent films.

Film buffs joined them, expressing solidarity online with the hashtag “boycottsuphannahong”.

On Friday the federation backed down and issued an apology.

“We apologise for the incident and appreciate everyone’s support of Thai film. To develop the nation's film industry, the National Federation of Thai Film Associations welcomes input from everyone,” the federation said.

It also issued new eligibility requirements allowing independent and low-budget films to compete for the annual awards.

“Films that are at least 60 minutes long and have been shown in a cinema or any venue for commercial film display for at least seven days during 2022” are eligible for the awards, it said.

Calls for a boycott were sparked by the minimum audience requirement and a requirement that a film had to be screed in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Nakhon Si Thammarat to be eligible for the awards.

Thai filmmakers frequently complain that cinema chains in Thailand fail to screen their films, preventing them from gaining audiences in Thailand. Many Thai films garner critical acclaim in foreign countries but are hindered from gaining audiences at home due to the preference by cinema chains for Hollywood blockbusters, filmmakers say.

The Suphannahong National Film Awards are named after the statuette given to winners. It is designed in the shape of the figurehead of the Royal Barge Suphannahong.