Thailand’s 18 Oscar picks: It’s all about culture
The recent selection of the Thai traditional-dance melodrama “Kon Khon” (คนโขน) as Thailand’s submission to next year’s Academy Awards, while controversial because of lack of critical acclaim and box-office success, is hardly surprising.
The Oscar committee of the Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand (FNFAT), with endorsement by the Culture Ministry, has traditionally favored movies that highlight Thai culture and historical events.
But while critics noted the high-minded cultural-preservation ideals of director Sarunyu Wongkrachang, they lambasted “Kon Khon” — a drama about rival masked-dance troupes — for its one-dimensional characters, heavy-handed melodrama and an unfocused plot.
In his roundup of the foreign-language nominees, Bangkok Post film critic Kong Rithdee said “Kon Khon” (meaning “men who perform khon”) “is a labored promotion of traditional Thai masked dance, and despite that noble purpose, its quality is unarguably subpar.”
Not only weren’t critics impressed, audiences stayed away and the movie was a flop, earning just around 7 million baht. The Culture Ministry, which helped fund the film, doesn’t care.