Phuket Film Festival called off

Political upheaval led to high security measures

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CANNES -- Thailand's political turmoil on Wednesday caused the cancellation of the latest running of the Phuket Film Festival.

Organizers announced that the June 4-11 fest had been disrupted by the high security measures being put in place for the upcoming Asian heads of state meeting -- only for the Thai government to subsequently cancel the inter-governmental summit.

"It took me a week to come to the decision to close down the festival, but 15 minutes after we sent out the press release the government backtracked," fest director Scott Rosenberg said. "Unfortunately, it would be difficult to go back the press now, and anyway, I've lost my Hollywood stars."

Director Gus van Sant and actor Adrien Brody were scheduled to attend. So too was "Cadillac Records" director Darnell Martin.

Proposed security measures included flight limitations and road blocks, as well as the stationing of some 5,000 troops in the region. Thailand's previous attempt to organize the ASEAN meeting in Pattaya in April ended in chaos and humiliation. Anti-government protesters stormed the meeting and world leaders had to be helicoptered away from the roof of the conference venue.

"(Due to) the creation of an armed state on Phuket for protection of the ASEAN meeting, which will take place days after the festival is to end, we found that the 'sanook' (fun) we had promised folks, was gone," Rosenberg said in his original statement.

The festival, in its second edition, was scheduled to take place at the Coliseum Theaters in downtown Phuket and include a special sidebar on Taiwanese cinema.