Director offered edit on pic cut from Bangkok

Says festival programmers asked for the film whole

BANGKOK -- The Japanese director of a movie dropped from the lineup of the Bangkok International Film Festival said Wednesday that event organizers rejected his earlier offers to edit the film about child prostitution.

In mid-August, when the Shochiku-distributed "Children of the Dark" was invited to screen at the sixth annual Bangkok fest, director Junji Sakamoto offered to make cuts to make the film more palatable to the Thai audience, he said.

But festival programmers told him they wanted the film uncut -- this despite that project's rejection by Thailand's censor board two years ago -- Sakamoto said.

Festival officials did not respond to inquiries Wednesday.

Producer Masaomi Karasaki said that after the censor board rejected the project in 2006, he partnered with an unidentified Thai producer to ensure that "Children" was made legally as a Japanese-Thai co-production.

Japanese distributor Shochiku was first to receive word of the ban on Sept. 17 when festival officials telephoned to say the "Children" was "inappropriate" for the event, Sakamoto said.

On Tuesday, festival artistic director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon said that dropping the film for its content was a hard decision to make.

"Children" premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic in July.

"We made the film to expose the hidden reality in Thailand and in the whole region," Sakamoto said. "We just wanted to know the reaction and impression of what Thai people thought about it, and we're really sorry that they will not have the opportunity to do so."

The festival soft-launched Tuesday with Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." The gala opening for the eight-day, 78-film event is set for Friday and will feature a screening of "Queens of Langkasuka" by Thai director Nonzi Nimibutr.