Thailand chooses gay-themed drama as Oscar submission

AP News
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Posted: Sep 24, 2015 5:17 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's motion picture association has selected a gay-themed, coming-of-age drama, "How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)," as an entry for the foreign-language category at the Academy Awards.

The movie is about an 11-year-old boy named Ek being raised by his gay, older brother in a poor Bangkok suburb. Ek tries to help his brother dodge the country's military draft lottery in the film, which touches on corruption, discrimination and social status in Thai society — and was released while a military government is running the country.

The film "has successfully been able to raise issues that people in Thailand don't openly talk about," said Weerasak Kowsurat, secretary-general of the National Federation of Thai Motion Picture and Content Associations.

An 8-person committee from the federation chose the film from among 59 contenders on Tuesday and submitted it Thursday as its selection for the Oscars foreign-language category, Weerasak said.

"The movie talks about morality and goodness in people as seen through the eyes of the younger brother," said Weerasak, adding that the older brother is gay but the film avoids gay stereotypes of promiscuity that are common in Thai films. "It shows the older brother as someone who is responsible, and trying to take care of his younger sibling. It's not how gay men are generally presented in Thai movies."

The Thai-language film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival this year and was released in July in Thailand. It was directed by Korean-American Josh Kim.

A Thai film has never been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination.

The Academy will announce the nominees for foreign-language films and other categories in mid-January before the Oscars are handed out Feb. 28, 2016.