AFP: Singapore censors say four films banned from film festival (April 4)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Singapore censors say four films banned from film festival

Apr 4, 2008

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Four film documentaries, including one by a gay Muslim and another about terrorism, have been banned from being shown at Singapore's film festival, the censor board said Saturday.

It said the films "exceed the Film Classification Guidelines".

Board of Film Censors chairman Amy Chua said "Arabs and Terrorism" and another film, "David the Tolhildan", were "disallowed on account of their sympathetic portrayal of organisations deemed terrorist organisations by many countries."

Since independence in 1965, Singapore has grown from an underdeveloped country to an Asian economic powerhouse. But critics say this has come at a price, in the form of restrictions on freedom of speech and political activity.

According to the film festival programme, "Arabs and Terrorism" presents a dialogue between right-wing American policymakers and Middle Eastern political factions.

"David the Tolhildan" is about a Swiss man who joins the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the festival said. The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by much of the international community, has been fighting for self-rule in southeastern Turkey.

Another rejected film, "A Jihad for Love" by gay Muslim film-maker Parvez Sharma, is about homosexual people living within Muslim communities, the festival said. In a statement, Chua said the film was disallowed because of "the sensitive nature of the subject".

Japanese documentary Bakushi, which is about bondage, also failed to get classification because it "normalises unnatural fetishes and behaviour", Chua said.

Festival officials could not be reached for comment but a notice on the its website said "A Jihad for Love" and "Arabs and Terrorism" had been "disallowed". It did not elaborate but said "Arabs and Terrorism" had been set for a sold-out screening on Saturday.

Singapore's government says the city-state has been liberalising but maintains a conservative core.

About 200 films have been classified for the festival which runs until April 14, Chua said.