Thai junta wants control over cave movie production

Honouring them all: Artists working on ‘The Heroes’ giant painting project at the Art Bride gallery in Chiang Rai, Thailand. — Reuters

Thailand’s government, saying it is concerned filmmakers and media may take advantage of the young football boys who were rescued from a flooded cave, wants to control how movies portray their ordeal and heroic rescue.

Culture Minister Vira Rojpochanarat said he will propose at this week’s Cabinet meeting that a special committee oversee the production of films, documentaries and videos related to the experiences of the 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in a cave for almost three weeks.

With the boys returning home, attention has turned to how the media are handling the post-rescue story.

There has been criticism of several news outlets, mostly foreign, that are considered to have ignored official advice to leave the boys alone.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Friday he had instructed officials from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to make sure the boys and those associated with them are not bothered while they are going through a period of mental rehabilitation.

He warned foreign media they may face prosecution even if they unintentionally violate child protection laws.

Wissanu, who is considered the top legal expert for Thailand’s ruling junta, said that it is the boys’ right to sign contracts for their own benefit, but added that the government committee would provide advice “like a manager”, without seeking any profit for itself.

He said the government was “very afraid” that some of those close to the ordeal could be coerced to sign contracts “because once a contract is signed, that person can’t do anything else, which is why someone with legal knowledge needs to step in and help.”

The government’s Thailand Film Office already regulates the production of films shot in Thailand by foreign companies, including vetting scripts and issuing filming permits, but the committee would oversee content, licensing and the protection of privacy.

Five foreign film production companies had shown interest in making a movie or documentary about the cave rescue. — AP

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