Pattaya revives long-shot, decade-old quest for UNESCO ‘city of film’ honor

Pattaya mayor Poramet Ngampichet revived a decade-old quest to win a UNESCO “City of Film” designation.

Pattaya’s mayor revived a decade-old quest to win a United Nations city of filmdesignation.

Poramet Ngampichet said Sept. 23 the national Office of Contemporary Art and Culture submitted Pattaya’s application to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a “City of Film”, a project that began under former mayor Itthiphol Kunplome in 2012.

Film is one of seven categories established by UNESCO’s Cultural Cities Network to honor “centers of excellence” in literature, music, crafts and folk art, design, media arts, gastronomy and film. UNESCO says a city of film must have “notable infrastructure related to film-making,” such as movie studios; “notable links to the production, distribution and commercialization of films,” and “cinematographic legacy,” such as archives, museums and private collections

Currently there are only two cities of film: Bradford, England and Sydney, Australia.

Pattaya held two hearings on the idea a decade ago where experts popped Itthiphol’s balloon, telling him Pattaya wasn’t close to meeting UNESCO’s qualifications.

Burapha University consultant Priyaporn Sukhsakul told city officials in 2012 that Pattaya needed to build an image palatable to the film industry. Simply claiming the city is Thailand’s top tourist destination was not sufficient for UNESCO when Pattaya officials unsuccessfully applied in 2011.

Other strategies including providing facilities needed by the film industry, as well as fixing basic things, such as the city’s utilities.

The beauty of the islands and beaches of Pattaya and the surrounding islands is ideal for film locations.

Pattaya, she said, also needed to offer 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 push the proposals forward by 2018.

Virtually nothing was done in the decade since, although Poramet argued that Pattaya’s film-industry infrastructure was stronger now.

He said there are about 300 requests this year to use Pattaya as a shooting location. The city also has a total 35 movie theaters and film classrooms. 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. Plus the landscape and beauty of the sea and beaches is second to none.

Poramet said Pattaya signed an agreement with the government to pursue the city of film designation with the cooperation of 12 relevant organizations within the 5-year timeframe.