The makers of “Ghost Game,” a Thai horror movie set in a fictionalized version of the Tuol Sleng genocide museum, tearfully apologized to Cambodia at a Thursday press conference in Bangkok, according to media reports.
But despite their expressions of regret, the movie premiered in the Thai capital the same day as had been scheduled.
“We are sorry that our movie has drawn complaints from Cambodian people who are concerned about the history of the country. We had not given this enough serious thought,” the movie’s executive producer Napat Pavaputanont was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
“We also regret if the film affects the good relationship between Thailand and Cambodia.”
The film’s director visited Tuol Sleng to research the setting for the movie and requested permission to film here but ultimately shot “Ghost Game” in Thailand, outfitting the sets with Khmer-language signs.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said controversy over the film was blown out of proportion, adding that filmmakers are entitled to freedom of expression.
“Just to say that we have a monopoly on the tragedy in Cambodia, and nobody could make a film about this, it would be insane,” he said. “It’s not about looking down on Cambodia.”
Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he accepted the apology, but added: “I hope that that they have learned that you cannot capitalize on memory, and if you choose to capitalize on this memory it is dishonoring the dead.”
“The most important thing is that the public knows that it’s not only fiction, but a fake that distorts the history,” he said.
He added that Cambodian Embassy officials in Bangkok had contacted him to consult about the issue.
Asked whether the film should be withdrawn from theaters, Youk Chhang said: “They have apologized, but I hope they translate this into action.”