The mayor of Pattaya has reignited a decade-old quest to win the United Nations “city of cinema” designation.
Poramet Ngampichet said on September 23 that the National Office of Contemporary Art and Culture had submitted Pattaya’s application to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a “City of Film”, a project that started under former mayor Itthiphol Kunplome in 2012.
Cinema is one of seven categories established by the UNESCO Network of Cultural Cities to reward “centres of excellence” in literature, music, crafts and folk arts, design, media arts, gastronomy and cinema. UNESCO states that a film city must have “notable infrastructure related to filmmaking”, such as film studios; “notable connections to film production, distribution and marketing” and “cinematic heritage”, such as archives, museums and private collections
Currently, there are only two film cities: Bradford, England and Sydney, Australia.
Pattaya held two hearings on the idea a decade ago, during which experts popped Itthiphol’s balloon, telling him that Pattaya was nowhere near meeting UNESCO qualifications.
Burapha University consultant Priyaporn Sukhsakul told city officials in 2012 that Pattaya needed to create an acceptable image for the film industry. Simply claiming the city is Thailand’s top tourist destination was not enough for UNESCO when Pattaya officials unsuccessfully applied in 2011.
Other strategies include providing necessary facilities for the film industry, as well as repairing basics, such as city utilities.
Pattaya, she said, should also provide and support film education, persuade the Thai film industry to make Pattaya its base for filming, script development and international film festivals. Finally, Piyaporn said, the city needed to work together to move the proposals forward by 2018.
Virtually nothing was done in the decade that followed, although Poramet argued that Pattaya’s film industry infrastructure was now stronger.
He said there were around 300 applications this year to use Pattaya as a filming location. The city also has a total of 35 cinemas and movie theaters. He added that Pattaya is the hub of commerce and tourism in the eastern region of Thailand and has a strong infrastructure to support the film industry. In addition, the landscape and the beauty of the sea and the beaches are incomparable.
Poramet said Pattaya has signed an agreement with the government to pursue the designation of the city of film with the cooperation of 12 relevant organizations within 5 years.