Thai Filmmaker Apologizes to Cambodia for Fictional Story of Khmer Rouge

Recently released Thai movie ‘Ghost Game,’ modelled after a Khmer Rouge torture center, has attracted fair bit of public attention. The movie, entirely a work of fiction, tells the story of a reality TV show where the contestants spend time in a deserted jail. To win the game the contestants must successfully ward off the ghosts haunting the jail.

Lux Mean, one of Cambodia Blog contributors, commented on the news article:
“There is strong criticism to a new Thai film “Ghost Game” from Cambodian public and scholars. Cambodian Ministry of Culture may consider banning the movie from Cambodia when they see the film.”

Soon after the movie went public, Phantham Thongsang, managing director of the Tifa production house, apologised to Cambodia for setting the movie in a Khmer Rouge-style prison. The film maker was quoted in the Associated Press as saying that “if there is any part or any scene that makes Cambodian people unhappy or makes Cambodian people feel that we have abused their memories of Khmer Rouge rule, I would like to apologise for that.”

‘How Insensitive Can the Neighbours Get?’
This weblog title appeared in Khmer440, an expatriate-owned Weblog.

“Representatives of the Thai feature film ‘Ghost Game’ held a press conference today (Wednesday, April 26th) to apologise for any misunderstanding regarding depiction of the movie’s events at a location said to resemble the Khmer Rouge Toul Sieng prison in Cambodia.”

During the 1990s, Thai movies were popular among Cambodian people who were embracing new lifestyle and fashion trends. Also, the quality of Thai movies easily beat the local movie productions. But in January 2003, this trend changed almost completely. In early 2003, in the aftermath of an anti-Thai riot, Thailand demanded around $40 million in damages from Cambodia to compensate for the loss to Thai-owned businesses in Cambodia. Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh was burnt down. The Cambodian people became more nationalist, particularly changed was their taste and perspective of Thai movies. As a result, there has been no movie from the neighbouring country on local television stations and cinema.

Cambodian Weblogger Mungkol had a say on this story. The weblog title read that ‘Ghost-Game: Another Horror Movie about Cambodia Made in Thailand.’ The weblog owner also asked that: “Don't we have any positive thing to show the world beside this nightmare stuff?” In the comment section, there are some opinions on the issue. Sokhodom wrote that:

“and once again, reading the comment by the news: ‘the director travelled far to research the film, taking photos of the genocide museum and the killing field, but in the end he decided against filming on location and opted instead to shoot in Saraburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi and Rayong.’ It really makes me think that the director is totally making used of the name i.e. S21. Instead of asking permission from the Cambodian counterpart, he continues shooting in Thailand and put the name to s-21?”

And Cambodia-based Singaporean Weblogger pointed out and followed up the news article, and commented briefly:

“Several tasteless Thai filmmakers have just made a horror movie based on Phnom Penh's notorious Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.”


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