World Censors

 2007

2005   2006   2007   2008  


31st December   

Censors Preaching Bollox...

India's moral police don't want to be thought of as moral police
Link Here

CBFC logo Chairperson of the Indian Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) Sharmila Tagore feels that censorship should not be used for moral policing and preaching.

Though some kind of check was necessary, care should be taken not to stifle entertainment, Sharmila Tagore said.

She said Members of the Board while avoiding to be moral police, should, however, act with great care as they were responsible to the civil society.

India is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic country, and majority of the people want some kind of censorship, and the government has to take note of that, she said.

 

29th December   

Lost in Beijing...

Chinese film censors explain secret decision making
Link Here  full story: Lost in Beijing...Banned in China
Lost in Beijing (Ping Guo poster Zhang Hongsen, deputy director-general of China's Film Bureau and a censor himself, gave a rare briefing recently on the inner workings of the country's movie censorship process, which has come under fire from prominent Chinese filmmakers.

We're not only concerned about the political aspect of a movie, said Zhang. A movie's style may be problematic. For example, some movies may poorly portray the customs of ethnic minorities . . . some are problematic in their portrayal of the rights of women and children. There are different problems.

One of the films that required heavy editing this year was director Li Yu's Lost in Beijing (Ping Guo) , a powerful story about the fallout after a Beijing foot massage parlour owner rapes one of his employees from the countryside.

Fang Li, the producer of Lost in Beijing , said earlier he was asked to cut scenes depicting sex, dirty streets, gambling, the Chinese national flag, and Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

In a recent interview, Fang accused the movie censorship committee of operating in a black box, saying it doesn't give reasons for the cuts it asks for.

Zhang said censors target sex and violence because China doesn't have a ratings system. All movies must be appropriate for viewing by people of all ages.

He said China's movie censorship committee comprises 24 regular members - five Film Bureau officials, including Zhang, and 19 film professionals, including directors, script writers, cinematographers and movie critics and scholars.

The committee, whose two-year term ends in May, also includes 13 "special" members who are brought in on a case-by-case basis for specialized issues like minority affairs, religion, law, foreign relations, and women and children's affairs, he said. Zhang, who is 43, said the youngest censor is 40 and none are older than 65.

 

25th December   

Undermining Faith...

Fighting repressive ban on 3 Philippines films
Link Here

MTRBC logo The Philippines censor board has provoked two militant lawmakers by banning three films for purportedly casting the Arroyo administration in a negative light.

Gabriela Representatives filed a resolution seeking a congressional inquiry into the ban. They alleged that the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) was being used “for political repression.”

The complaint referred to the short films Mendiola and A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo , and Rights , a compilation of public service announcements on human rights, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

They said in a statement that The MTRCB, banning these movies has proven itself to be an effective tool for the suppression of free speech and expression.

National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, a founding member of the critics’ group, Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, has joined the two legislators’ protest, along with filmmakers Carlitos Siguion Reyna, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Kiri Dalena, Chytz Jimenez and RJ Mabilin.

The group said they were disputing the censors’ ruling that Rights contained scenes that undermine faith and confidence [in] the government and duly constituted authorities.

It wasn’t true, either, that Mendiola had a tendency to incite rebellion and sedition, the protesters insisted.

Neither was the board’s claim, they said, that A Day in the Life of Gloria was libelous and defamatory to the good name and reputation of the President of the Philippines.

Meanwhile the ban of the film, Banal , has now been rescinded and it is now rated R-13

 

22nd December   

Update: Police Censors...

Thailand passed film classification law
Link Here  full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

25 cert Thailand's National Legislative Assembly passed the controversial Film Act in a last gasp flurry of bills before a new government is elected.

An eight-month-long campaign by local film professionals to end censorship went unheeded. The new law stipulates a rating system which still gives the state the right to ban a movie and prevent its release in the kingdom.

The rating system is made up of "P" (films that are of educational value, "G" (suitable for all age groups), and age restricted categories 13,15,18,20.

The previously mooted  25 age category did not make the final bill.

Notably, the Film Act authorizes the state to forbid the release of movies that undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or that might impact national security or the pride of the nation.

Another controversial point is the article that sees the country's chief of police join the National Film and Video Committee. Previous drafts of the law did not include the police as members of the rating committee, though historically the police have chaired the film censorship board.

To implement the rating system, a supplementary law will have to be written to cover operational aspects. But it's not clear when the system will actually be implemented in Thai theaters.

 

17th December   

Regional Sensitivities...

India implements regional censorship
Link Here

CBFC logo Close on the heels of Aaja Nachle controversy, Censor Board authorities have decided to set up more regional centres to address local differences and diversity in the country.

Regional offices of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) will soon come up in Guwahati, Cuttack and New Delhi.

Films are now widely watched and a lot of controversies tend to crop up due to regional differences in the country. The regional centres will take care to solve the differences before public screening, CBFC chairperson Sharmila Tagore said.

 

15th December   

Singapore Censors Rapped...

As they produce rap video
Link Here

mda singapore logo Executives from Singapore's censors, the Media Development Authority have stirred up an online controversy for appearing in a rap video.

Yes, yes y'all. We don't stop. Get creative, can do, rock on! the mostly middle-aged executives rap. Dressed in suits, they twirl in time to the beat and make gangster-style hand gestures. The deputy censor is shown in full rap regalia including gold chains, shades and a backwards baseball cap. Another executive appears in red briefs and a caped-crusader-style costume.

Since it was posted on the You Tube video-sharing website two weeks ago, the film, which lasts almost five minutes, has generated 60,648 hits and more than 300 comments, many of them negative and filled with expletives.

"They call me CEO. Hear me out, everyone," sings the agency's chief executive, Christopher Chia. "My aim: a vibrant media hub for the city."

Cassandra Tay, MDA's director of communications, said Wednesday the video was originally prepared for a staff conference, where it was well-received by staff who had not seen their senior management in this light.

 

7th December   

Critical Films Banned in Philippines...

Undermining the faith of the people on government
Link Here

MTRCB logo The MTRCB will never allow the propagation of films which carries dissenting views to the current administration, said an independent filmmaker whose work has been banned.

The Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) was criticized anew for censoring two short films created by independent film makers.

A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo and Sine Patriyotiko’s Mendiola have been rated “X” or banned from public exhibition by the MTRCB. The films are part of an eight-film compilation scheduled to be shown at the Kontra Agos Resistance Film Festival on December 5-11, Indie Sine, Robinson’s Galleria.

In an interview, RJ Mabilin, director of A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo , said that the MTRCB justified the rating by saying that the films undermine the faith of the people in government.

An animation, which got an honorable mention award from this year’s Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines, A Day in the Life of Gloria ArroVo is a political satire.

Mendiola , on the other hand, is a short documentary critical of the Arroyo government’s calibrated preemptive response (CPR).

Another short film, Holy Bingo , was initially rated “X” but later got a PG-13 classification. The film, Mabilin said, is critical of the Catholic Church.

Mabilin said, It goes to show that there exists institutionalized repression. The MTRCB has the final say whether a film should be viewed or not. It will never allow the propagation of films which carries dissenting views to the current administration.

IA Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo can be viewed via the Youtube since 2005 ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_x6m_LDryE ).



2nd December    Lyrics Hit Low...
   
Indian censor missed a low caste slur

Aaja Nachle film posterTwo Indian states have banned a film featuring Bollywood superstar Madhuri Dixit because it allegedly offends low-caste Hindus.

North Indian states of Punjab and Haryana banned the screening of Aaja Nachle as the title song of the film in which Dixit - called the "dancing diva" for her graceful moves - plays a choreographer has derogatory and insulting remarks about Dalits.

However, India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh lifted the ban following an apology by the film's producer Yash Raj films. The Uttar Pradesh government had objected to what it said was a derogatory reference to cobblers. Yash Raj films said the offending parts have been taken out from prints across the country.

It was not our intention to hurt the feelings of any individual or community of our great nation. If we have inadvertently hurt the sentiments of anybody we apologise, said the production house.

Censor Board Chairperson Sharmila Tagore also apologised for passing what may have been politically incorrect lyrics. The film is expected to be a big draw as the US-based Dixit returns to the screen after a six-year absence. 

 

27th November    An Interpretation of History...
   
Indian censors add disclaimer to Elizabeth

Elizabeth: The Golden Age bookShekhar Kapur’s film Elizabeth: The Golden Age has gone the way of Da Vinci Code. Despite protests from the Catholic Church, it will be released in India on Friday without any cuts, but with a ‘disclaimer’.

Church leaders grudgingly agreed to the release with a disclaimer that the movie with an ‘Adult’ certification was an interpretation of history, which is subject to diverse views.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) secretary general Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes had shot off a letter to Central Censor Board of India chairperson Sharmila Tagore seeking deletion of parts they found objectionable.

We had also demanded a disclaimer like in the case of Da Vinci Code that the film is based on fiction, said CBCI spokesperson Father Babu Joseph. He reiterated the charge that the film portrayed the Pope, bishops and the Catholic Church in a poor light….like perpetrators of all kinds of crime. Father Joseph said interpretation of history can be done in several way…this is not certainly THE history.

The Catholic Church also feels that the film is blatantly pro-Protestant and that it would further accentuate the Catholic-Protestant divide.

The Church is not happy with the ‘disclaimer’ though. The disclaimer is a joke. What is the use of a disclaimer after showing all that is objectionable? The ideal thing is not produce such films, said Joseph Dias of the Catholic Secular Forum.

 

21st November    Can't Bully the Censor...
   
New Zealand censor publishes annual report

Bill HastingsThe 2007 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature Classification was tabled in New Zealand's Parliament last week

The Office classified more material than ever before, largely due to an increase in the number of submissions from law enforcement agencies. It made decisions on 2,762 publications in 2006/07, six per cent more than in 2005/06. The Office banned 14% of the publications it classified, restricted 74%, and classified 12% as unrestricted. The largest proportion of banned material dealt with the sexual exploitation of children. [Note this is down to censors checking material seized by the police, it is not material submitted with view to commercial distribution]

Chief Censor Bill Hastings said censorship law requires the Office to protect society from the harm caused by restricted and objectionable publications. To do its job, the Office must fiercely guard its independence by balancing competing views. For example, the Office classified the film Out of the Blue by balancing the filmmaker’s opinion with those who were most affected by the event the film depicted.

Censors must also be aware of broad but often quietly spoken public opinion and resist capture by narrow but often loud lobbies, added Mr Hastings. For example, the Office found that demands to ban the computer game Bully for allegedly glorifying bullying were unfounded after examination of the game revealed its anti-bullying stance. Similarly, The Peaceful Pill Handbook was banned after the Office found that it encouraged criminal activity instead of simply offering advice and advocating law reform as its authors claimed.

 

18th November    Melancholy Censors...
   
Iran book censors generate interest in banned title

Memories of my Meloncholy Whores bookAn Iranian government decision to forbid the second printing of a Persian translation of Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez has spurred interest in the book, booksellers said Saturday.

The novel by the famed Latin American writer was translated into Persian and had an initial press run of 5,000 copies. It was only banned after the Ministry of Culture received complaints from conservatives who believed the novel was promoting prostitution.

The ban has only provoked greater interest in the novel and on Saturday, copies of the book were being sold for more than twice their list price.

Ahmad Abbasi, paid over the odds to get a copy: I don't know what the book is about. But when the government bans a book, there is something interesting in it. So, I'm buying the book out of curiosity.

The novel, known as Memories of My Melancholy Whores in the West, was translated into Persian as Memories of My Melancholy Sweethearts. It tells the story of an elderly man who had long used prostitutes and decides to mark his 90th birthday by sleeping with a 14-year-old virgin. He ends up falling in love with the girl.

Officials at Niloofar Publications, which published the first edition, confirmed Saturday they have been forbidden to put out the second edition.

Iran has tightened censorship of books, films and music since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.

 

14th November    Censorship Effect...
   
Singapore bans the computer game, Mass Effect

Mass Effect game coverSingapore's government has announced a ban on the sale of BioWare's upcoming Mass Effect computer game.

The ban was triggered by the revelation of a scene in the game in which a sexual encounter between a human woman and a female alien is portrayed in a poorly-lit room with brief partial nudity. The depiction of same-sex relations is enough to get the game thrown out of Singapore.

To put this into context, The BBFC kindly published a detailed explanation of their 12 rating (suitable for 12 year olds and over):

Mass Effect is a role playing game and shooter set in the future in space. The player controls either a male or female American soldier through a long and involved story line, making choices along the way. The game has been classified at '12' for moderate violence and one sex scene.

The violence is undetailed and takes place in a futuristic setting. The single sex scene is brief and undetailed, although there is breast nudity in one version of the scene. The sex scene is triggered by the player making a series of choices about becoming more than friends with a colleague. If playing as a male character the scene can take place between him and a human woman or a humanoid female alien. If playing as a female character the scene can take place between her and a male human or a female humanoid alien.

The game also contains use of the word 'bastard' and at least one aggressive use of the word 'bitch'. Both of which are acceptable under BBFC Guidelines at '12'.

Note also that "breast nudity" just refers to one side view of a blue alien breast, no nipple.


17th November  Update:  Mass Censorship...
   
Singapore unbans the computer game, Mass Effect

Mass Effect game coverAfter winding up the video gaming community with the ban of Mass Effect, the authorities have done a U-turn by rating the highly-anticipated futuristic space adventure and allowing its sale in Singapore.

In a statement on Friday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said the game had been reviewed by the Board of Film Censors (BFC) and is now rated M18.

Mass Effect was earlier banned in Singapore, the only country to have done so, as it contained an intimate scene between two female characters. The ban had triggered disappointment and anger among local and international gamers.

The Singapore censors previously banned two games, God of War II for nudity, and The Darkness, for violence and vulgarity.

 

10th November    The Banning Game...
   
New Zealand censors up for the Golden Showers Award

The Game stillThe short film The Game may be banned from playing in New Zealand by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The Australian short film was scheduled to play in the Show Me Shorts Film Festival in Auckland before also traveling to Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington.

Festival Director Gina Dellabarca is shocked that this film has been “refused” by the Film and Video Labeling Body (FVLB). She says, The incident in the film that has caused the problem is not even actually seen on screen, the characters simply refer to the act of urination in a sexual sense. The person who requests the act is heavily mocked and the film is funny and light. This is a top quality film that the public are missing out on the chance to see. The film has previously screened in Australia, the UK, Germany and Canada with no problems.

The Show Me Shorts Film Festival Trust have sent The Game to the Chief Censor requesting urgent viewing in hope of securing a rating so it can be shown in the other locations.

Director Christopher Johnson, who is currently attending a film festival in Germany, has been made aware of the problem. He was, “surprised” by the refusal because, although the film addresses a form of sexual deviance, it’s done in a comedic vein, because it’s a comedy.

 

7th November    Throwing in the Towel...
   
Indian Censor cut to Saawariya accepted

Saawariya posterRanbir Kapoor's female fans are in for a disappointment - the towel dropping shot in the number Jab se tere naina has been deleted by the Indian censor board.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is not complaining because it neither obstructs the flow nor makes a mess of his film Saawariya.

The director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was offered the choice of keeping the nude shot with an adult certificate. But the filmmaker didn't want to lose an extremely large and crucial portion of the potential audience for one shot.

In fact, several members of the censor board who loved the film suggested I take the cut and go with the 'U' certificate. Though in principle I'm against any cuts, this one time I agreed. The shot doesn't really make any difference to the flow of my story, Bhansali told IANS.

The film is all set for release Nov 9.

 

27th August   Lust for an NC-17 Rating
 

   
Lust Caution poster
Ang Lee's Lust, Caution rated NC-17

Based on an article from Rope of Silicon see full article

Variety is reporting that Ang Lee's Lust, Caution has earned an NC-17 rating, and Focus Features has accepted it!

This is not normal. Not by a long shot considering they can't promote the film using TV spots, some newspapers restrict the advertising and some theaters explicitly say they won't play any NC-17 rated films.

What is the highest grossing NC-17 rated film of all-time? That would be Showgirls at a mere $20.3 million, but this doesn't seem like it could possibly be a play for box-office glory considering the film is also 100% spoken in Mandarin and isn't the $128 million action fare Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was.

Why is it rated NC-17? We will have to wait until next week, but Variety says the production notes compare it to the sexually implicit Last Tango in Paris.

Update: Cut Version gets Chinese Release

30th August

Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, will be aired in Chinese theaters from September 26.

Ren Zhonglun, the president of the Shanghai Film Group and a film collaborator, said that he had watched the demo version of Lust, Caution but didn't find any outrageous scenes. He did admit that Chinese censors had voiced some opinions for revisions that Ang Lee has accepted.

In particular sex scenes will be cut.

Update: Prize Winner

10th September

Ang Lee's Lust, Caution has won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival


12th September   Update: Lust Suitable for Children
 

   
Lust Caution poster
Substantial Chinese cuts for Lust, Caution

Based on an article from Variety Asia see full article

Golden Lion-winner Lust, Caution will be trimmed of 30 of its steamiest and most violent minutes for Chinese audiences.

In Hong Kong, a Chinese Special Administrative Region where the film is to be given a wide 50-print release by Edko Films on Sept 26, "Lust" is also likely to be sliced. We are still waiting for the advice of the ratings board, said an Edko source. But it seems pretty clear that we are heading for cuts in order to qualify for a III rating.

Of Hong Kong's four ratings, the III classification is the territory's only one with mandatory effect. It gives theater box offices the power to check IDs, requires that promotional materials are screened by the censors and that videos are sold in sealed plastic wrapping.

No such a rating option exists in the Chinese mainland, where either everyone gets to see a movie, from toddler to teen to pensioner, or no one does. The lack of a film classification system means the only tools at the censor's disposal are cutting entire scenes or simply banning a movie, both drastic steps when one considers that script approval was granted before a movie goes into production.

China's main movie watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) refuses to introduce the rating system as it believes that if a movie is unsuitable for children, then it's unsuitable for adults too.

Lust, Caution was originally due to open on Sept. 23 in mainland China but is now more likely to bow on Oct. 26 only after completion of a special blackout period, known as "Outstanding Golden Domestic Film Exhibition Month," to allow for a crucial Communist Party congress.


15th September   Update: Unbridled Lust
 

   
Lust Caution poster
Lust, Caution uncut in Taiwan

From Channel News Asia see full article

Taiwan censors have approved the release of the full version of director Ang Lee's award-winning erotic spy thriller Lust, Caution. The committee voted unanimously on Friday that the film could be released rated "R" without any censorship, said the Taipei-based China Times.

The artistic achievement of 'Lust, Caution' has been recognised after the (Golden Lion) award and it will better meet the public expectation to release the film uncut, the report quoted government film official Chen Chun-jhe as saying.

Lust, Caution is set to open in Taiwan on September 24.


13th October  Update: No Lust for Cuts...
   
BBFC pass Lust, Caution uncut 18 for a cinema release

Lust Caution posterThe UK's BBFC have now passed the cinema release 18 uncut with the following comment:

Lust, Caution is a subtitled period drama in Mandarin, set in Japanese-occupied China, about a young woman who works with the resistance to help assassinate a top collaborator with the Japanese. It was classified '18' for three scenes of strong sex, in which we see considerable detail, including various sexual positions and some crotch detail. Furthermore, in the first scene, it is not made clear whether the woman is consenting to sex or not.

The film also contains a lengthy scene in which a group of students kill a collaborator. He is repeatedly stabbed with a knife but does not die, and his shirt becomes increasingly blood-stained. He is eventually killed by one of the students who breaks his neck.


26th October  Update: Real Sex, Of Course Not...
   
Philippines pass Lust, Caution uncut R-18 for cinema

Lust Caution posterIt is encouraging to hear that the Philippine Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has allowed Ang Lee’s controversial, award-winning film, Lust, Caution, to be shown without cuts.

The R-18 without cuts rating means the much-talked about sex scenes of Tony Leung and Tang Wei—graphic, yes, but integral to the film—will be seen intact by Philippine moviegoers.

Rather than cut the sexually explicit scenes, Ang and his producers accepted the film’s NC-17 rating in the US. Usually, filmmakers slapped with an NC-17 tag make cuts to get a less restrictive rating. They see NC-17 as a death knell for a movie at the box-office since this rating severely limits the size of the audience allowed to watch.

As we’ve written previously, these sex scenes are acrobatic and daring. In a film that wonderfully, deliberately takes its time to tell a story of emotional and political intrigue in World War II Shanghai, the scenes appear toward the end of the film. Tony and Tang, playing characters both wary and attracted to each other; circling, testing, baiting each other, finally let go and have unembarrassed sex.

The full nudity scenes seem so real that not a few viewers wondered if actual “pene” (borrowing a term, short for penetration, that was in vogue in Manila in the ‘80s) took place. Our colleague did ask Tony and Tang, who came with interpreters, about it in their joint press con with us in Toronto. The reporter asked, I apologize ahead of time. I hope no one will be offended. If you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to answer. Did you have actual sex?

Tony answered, Of course not.


18th November  Update: No Lust, Only Caution...
   
Suing Chinese censors for ruining films

Lust Caution posterThe Chinese decision to order the excision of seven minutes of explicit and unorthodox sexual activity from the Ang Lee's Lust, Caution has prompted some unusually bold challenges to Beijing's film censorship system.

Graduate law student Dong Yanbin has drawn widespread local attention by trying to sue a cinema chain and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) for infringing his rights by screening a version of the film with an incomplete plot structure.

His attempt has already been rebuffed by Beijing courts twice, but the case highlights dissatisfaction with China's one-size-fits-all film censorship regime.

The system has no age-based ratings, which means any film release is officially suitable for children, while faceless officials have wide discretion to ban or cut titles for a wide range of loosely defined moral, social or political reasons.

Critics say the system undermines the local film industry by making it difficult to come up with compelling content for adult audiences. It also fuels China's booming trade in uncut pirated versions of imported titles such as Lust, Caution that can easily be bought on the street.

Film industry figures have long called for the introduction of a ratings system. Sarft has not ruled out such a system, but has shown little enthusiasm. The official Xinhua news agency this year said the regulator's approach was based on the view that films not suitable for children are not suitable for adults, either.


2nd December  Update:  Caution, No Lust...
   
Thai film censor renders Lust, Caution as unwatchable

Lust Caution posterAng Lee's Lust Caution was noticed in the US when its sex scenes were rated as NC-17. An adults only rating that is usually commercial suicide in the US.

But don't bother seeing it on the big screen in Thailand. The board of morality cut out 10 minutes of the film which makes it not worth watching.

I saw the uncut version in California a few weeks ago and while viewing it thought of the censors in Thailand and how they would snip away so much of the good parts, really essential to the story.

 

16th October    Drunk in Charge of a Blue Pencil...
   
New Zealand channel screened racist texts

BSA logoAlt TV has blamed a drunken employee for breaches of broadcasting standards that have seen the channel taken off air.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority banned Alt TV from broadcasting for five hours next Monday after it ruled that Groove in the Park, the channel's broadcast of a music event, breached standards of good taste and decency and children's interests, and encouraged denigration and discrimination on the basis of race.

In its response to the Authority, Alt TV explained that it had employed the services of a moderator/censor to look at the text messages before they were broadcast. Unfortunately, it said, the person who had been employed had become intoxicated on the day and had failed to perform this role.

As punishment, Alt TV has been ordered off-air between 12 noon and 5pm on Labour Day and been told to instead display a statement which summarises the authority's decision and apologises to viewers. The channel has also been ordered to pay costs of $5000.

The authority said it considered the breaches to be "extremely serious". A viewer complained that during the broadcast text messages of a racist and sexual nature, including explicit language, were run across the screen. The statements supporting death of and violence towards people of particular races could, the authority said, aptly be described as hate speech.

 

7th October   TV Censorship for Indonesia...
 


Indonesia flagProtecting children, teenagers and women!

From the Jakarta Post

The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) and the Film Censorship Board (LSF) said they would soon issue a new set of ethical codes for television aired nationally.

KPI chairman Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja said both KPI and LSF had formulated standards of television programs but they needed to merge concepts: We will also make changes based on complaints logged by television viewers.

The commission said it had received many complaints from the public over poor television programs, including those related to "pornography, mysticism and violence".

We will also set benchmarks for television programs aimed at children, teenagers and women, Sasa said.

 

7th October   Update: Fucking Great Job...
 

 
CBSC logoCanadian TV censors whinge at post victory sports interview

From Reuters

Canada's TV censors have ruled that triumphant sports athletes can't use the word "fuck" on air during post-game interviews, even if they've just beaten the Russians to win the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council said that The Sports Network (TSN), Canada's cable sports channel, was wrong to allow Canadian hockey forward Jonathan Toews to drop the F-bomb on live TV after he and his teammates earned the world junior hockey crown.

During the January 5, 2007 live telecast, Toews enthusiastically told TSN reporter James Cybulski that the Canadian team did a "fucking great job" beating the Russians to win their second gold medal in as many years at the championships.

The CBSC, reacting to a viewer complaint over the use of the f-word in a daytime broadcast, ruled the action breached an industry code of ethics that restricts the use of abusive language to between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., when young people are less likely to watch TV.

As a sanction, TSN was ordered to broadcast the CBSC ruling in prime time.

 

7th October   Fiji Bans Hindi Movie...
 

 
Adhura Sapna imageLest it give the 'natives' ideas

From Stuff see full article

Fiji's first Hindi language movie has been banned from public screening in Fiji.

Adhura Sapna, centred on a rural land dispute between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, has already screened in New Zealand.

But its director, Vimal Reddy, says the Fiji Censor Board has certified it as unsuitable for screening due to its strong racial themes.

To win permission to screen it the board says some of the dialogue and the land issue needs to be deleted.

Reddy told the Fiji Times today that the parts the board asked him to remove were the crux of the movie.

Around 40% of Fiji's 850,000 people are ethnic Indians, mostly descendants of contract labourers imported by Britain to work on Australian owned sugar plantations. Rural Indo-Fijians these days most live on leased land with many of the leases now expiring.

Update: DVD Release

17th October 2007

Adhura Sapna which was locally produced will be released on DVD from Saturday.

Film director Vimal Reddy speaking from Australia said the Censor Board has banned the film in Fiji theatres, which has prompted him to consider an appeal.

Reddy, however, after careful consideration with the movie’s producers decided to release the DVD without editing the scenes, which according to the Censor board are sensitive issues for Fiji viewers.

Reddy said the decision was based on the basis that Fiji will be its major market following its release: We have the other alternative which we’ve been advised by the authorities there that releasing DVDs for private viewing is permitted and we know that the best alternative.

 

25th September   Update: Just a Little State Censorship...
 

 
Nigeria flagNigeria's Kano state goes censorship crazy

From All Africa see full article

Kano State Censorship Board has extended the suspension earlier imposed on film production in the state from Three to six months until 21 February, 2008, just as it reeled out a massive number of measures to restrict the media industry.

IThe Board under its former executive secretary, Alhaji A.A. Kurawa, imposed a three-month suspension after a sex video clip of a popular actress, Maryam Hiyana, went public.

Addressing a press briefing, the new executive secretary of the board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, explained that the extension of the suspension became necessary in order to enable his administration introduce new measures for the 'improvement' of film production in the state, adding that the policy would be vigorously monitored by the board to ensure stringent penalties for defaulters.

Rabo stated that the board has created additional guidelines for registration of production companies, artistes, internet cafes, publishers and authors. According to the new laws, production companies must have a minimum of N2.5 million as working capita; all members of the production crew shall also have a minimum qualification of a diploma or certificate in a related field from a recognised institution. The board would now censor films on CDs and VHS cassettes and all films marketed in the state,.

Rabo revealed that the board has cancelled singing and dancing of any kind in Hausa films, and no producer would be allowed to go to location for filming without his script being approved by a recognised consultant and vetted by the board.

Members of the Kano State Association of Printers have also been advised to make sure that before they print any book or poster meant for public use they must obtain a clearance from the board.

Meanwhile, according to the executive secretary, stakeholders of literary works such as authors, publishers, bookshops, poster sellers, distributors and vendors are expected to register with the board in compliance with the requirements of the Censorship Board Law 2001: A person who therefore exhibits, publishes, sells or distributes, in any manner whatsoever, a literary work without Censorship Board certificate shall be liable to face the wrath of the relevant provision of the Law.

He then called on the stakeholders and the people in the state to support the task force in its purpose of sanitising the industry.


5th October   Update: The Last Nigerian Movie...
 

 
Nigeria flagBefore nutter censors take over

From the BBC see full article

A filmmaker in northern Nigeria has defied a ban on filming brought in by Islamic authorities after a popular actress was caught up in a sex scandal.

The Kano State authorities suspended all filming in August for six months after a video clip of popular actress Maryam Hiyana having sex with a married man spread through Kano, the largest city in the mainly Muslim north.

Officials then acted, saying that in future, singing and dancing will be banned in movies, actors and directors will need a licence to make films and production companies will have to meet strict criteria before they will be allowed to do business.

Seventeen actors have already received bans for "immoral conduct" such as drinking off set and another director was jailed for making a film showing belly-dancing women.

The state's Islamic authorities say singing and dancing are gratuitous sexual titillation banned by the Koran, and the new regulations are necessary to protect public decency.

But producer Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama says he has found a loophole in the state's harsh censorship powers.

His film, a Nigerian version of West Side Story, is funded by the US embassy as part of "heart and minds" anti-violence campaign and is therefore out of reach of the state censor's knife.

Iyan Tama's film, Tsintsiya (The Broom in Hausa), is about a young couple who find love across ethnic boundaries during bloody riots that rocked the state in 2004.

Filming began before the ban was introduced but was completed last month.

But Abubakar Rabo, head of the Kano State Censorship Board and a former deputy chief of the religious Hisbah police, disagrees - saying the ban was needed to prevent the religious public attacking filmmakers. And while the loophole allowed the filming of Tsintsiya to be completed, it will not be sold in Kano without Rabo's approval.

Iyan Tama says he does not care if his film is banned in Kano, and hopes his latest offering will be seen and accepted by a world audience.

 

22nd September   No Rights in Philippines...
 

 
MTRCB logoCensors ban films about killings and disappearances

From ABS CBN see full article

Filmmakers are up in arms against the latest decision of the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), stopping the commercial showing of independently produced short films on human rights in the country.

The MTRCB reviewed the 30-second to one-minute films, which tackle unexplained killings and enforced disappearances involving activists and journalists, among others.

The following day, the board informed the Philippine Independent Filmmakers Cooperative (PIFC) that the short films were rated “X”, which means they are deemed unfit for public viewing.

Scenes in this film are presented unfairly, one-sided, and undermine the faith and confidence of the government and duly constituted authorities, thus, not fit for public exhibition, explained MTRCB chairman Ma. Consoliza Laguardia.

The 13 short films contain excerpts from news video footage from the era of martial law, the killing of former Sen. Ninoy Aquino, and demonstrations during the Marcos administration, up to the killings of militant leaders, and the abduction of others, including Jonas Burgos.

The 13 short films titled RIGHTS were supposed to be shown yesterday at the Indie Sine cinema in a mall in Ortigas Center, in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of martial law and International Day of Peace.

The MTRCB gave the petitioner five days to file their appeal for a second review. Campaigners say that the appeal will be lodged.

Multi-awarded filmmaker Carlitos Siguion-Reyna of the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) and Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) said the MTRCB decision against the showing of the RIGHTS is indicative of “an abusive law”.


27th September   Update: Put to Rights...
 

 
MTRCB logoPhilippines censors overturn ban on campaigning film on appeal

From GMA News.tv see full article

The Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) took back its "X" banned rating on a short independent film which tackled the abduction of agriculturist Jonas Burgos, his family have said.

The previously banned Rights is a collection of public service advertisements containing 15 short works by Filipino independent filmmakers supporting calls for Jonas's release.

Jonas's brother Jose Luis "JL" Burgos said the second review committee of the MTRCB gave the film Rights an "R-13" meaning that it can be watched only by people over 13 years old.

He said Jonas's supporters trooped to the MTRCB to appeal the original ban.

One of the short films entitled Where Is Jonas? was included in Rights and is now available for viewing at online video sharing site YouTube.

It features a photo of Jonas's father, the late freedom fighter Jose Burgos, smiling in the company of two boys. However, the boy on the right flickers, then disappears...

 

22nd August   Vulgar Idolatry...
 

 
SARFT logoTV censors ban Chinese Pop Idol

Based on an article from the BBC see full article

A Chinese TV talent programme has been banned by the state's broadcasting censor for being "vulgar".

The First Heartthrob, a Pop Idol-style competition, was accused of catering to "the low-grade interests of a minority" and cancelled with immediate effect. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) added that the show lacked social responsibility.

About 100,000 contestants auditioned for the show, which began last year, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Chinese media reports suggest that a recent episode in which a contestant reduced one of the show's female judges to tears may have prompted the move.

The First Heartthrob is one of several TV talent shows to achieve high ratings in China.

Last week, Sarft required another such programme, Happy Boy's Voice, to include only "healthy and ethically inspiring" songs, and to try to avoid broadcasting "gossip" about the participants. It also banned judges from humiliating contestants.

Sarft ordered all Chinese broadcasters to note the ban of The First Heartthrob and urged them to: voluntarily abide by political discipline and propaganda discipline

Comment: Low Morals

From Dan

It's bought out British nutters from under the woodwork. On BBC's Ceefax 145 letters page a writer applauded China's regulators for cancelling the show for having "low morals" and wished we could do the same here.

Hmmm China style TV regulation? I'd be the first at Dover trying to get out of the country if that happened!


10th September   Update: Vulgar Display of Authority...
 

 
SARFT logoChinese clean up TV for Party Congress

From The Independent see full article

China is clamping down on television shows deemed vulgar or in poor taste...no sexually explicit programmes, nothing featuring sex toys and contraceptives and anything involving sex change operations or real-life cosmetic surgery is off the air.

China wants to the fill the ether with solid communist values ahead of a high-level party congress next month, where President Hu Jintao will cement his power base.

Chinese TV is remarkably chaste and nudity or even the softest of porn are completely unthinkable on air. But reality-TV shows have been screening 'bawdy' behaviour and exhibitionism, to the authorities' irritation.

The campaign against "vulgar" television has already shut down The First Heart-throb, a spectacularly chaotic version of Britain's Pop Idol.

Growing affluence in China and increased competition between regional broadcasters means there is greater demand for this type of show, often at the expense of the traditional, patriotic performances favoured by the Communist government.

The state broadcasting watchdog recently banned programmes featuring surgery and sex-change operations. Beautiful Makeover, a reality show in the southern province of Guangdong which showed scenes of plastic surgery operations, was axed. All levels of television broadcasters must not plan or produce sex change or plastic surgery programmes involving public participation (including news, specials or interviews), effective immediately, Sarft , the Chinese TV censor, said.

Sarft also criticised other provincial stations broadcasting "lewd and obscene" images. All levels of television broadcasters must not air any vulgar content involving sexual experiences or functions of sex toys and birth control devices, effective immediately, Sarft said. It also has told the state broadcaster CCTV to rein in racy advertisers.

The government is also keeping a lid on any controversial movies before the 17th Party Congress, due to start on 15 October. Only visions of China's "harmonious society" will make the cinema screens and the period around the meeting will be known as Outstanding Golden Domestic Film Exhibition Month.

Among the films hit by the rules will be Ang Lee's racy wartime drama Lust, Caution. The Chinese market is already getting a toned-down version of the steamy movie, and it has now been postponed until after the congress ends.

Update: Cleaning up Radio

12th September

The broadcasting censor, SARFT, has banned two sexually explicit radio talk shows in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The daily talk shows broadcast by Sichuan Provincial People's Broadcast Station and Chengdu Municipal People's Broadcast Station "seriously broke the rules", the administration said.

Broadcast after 9 pm the two- to three-hour long programs dealt with material of an "extreme pornographic nature" and talked about sex lives, sexual experiences, sex organs and the efficacy of certain drugs for sex.

The administration ordered the two stations to immediately suspend the programs and others like it and said "those responsible must be punished. Local broadcasters must draw lessons from these cases and improve their social responsibility and professional skills to create righteous public opinion.


17th September   Update: Talking Censorship...
 

 
SARFT logoChina bans more supposedly explicit sex talk shows

From China Daily see full article

The State Administration of Film, Radio and Television (SAFRT) switched off 13 radio sex talk shows in five central and southern provinces recently, according to SAFRT's website.

According to the notice issued by SAFRT on September 13, 11 sex explicit talk shows broadcast by provincial broadcast stations in Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hainan were suspended for their pornographic nature.

The notice said "the problem of the five broadcast stations is serious and those responsible will be dealt with".

The notice said the banned programs dealt with material of an "extreme pornographic nature" and talked about sex lives, sexual experiences, sex organs and the efficacy of certain drugs for sex.

Local broadcasters must draw lessons from these cases and improve their social responsibility and professional ethics, said the notice.

The SAFRT said it will establish a hotline in near future for the public to report vulgar programs they discover


29th September   Update: Vulgar Censorship...
 

 
SARFT logoChina bans sexually suggestive advertising

I'd have thought the Chinese would have run out of things to ban but they seem to keep finding more.

From the BBC see full article

China's broadcasting watchdog has banned all "sexually suggestive" advertising on television and radio.

Adverts for products like sex-related health supplements and sex toys will be prohibited, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) said. "Vulgar" adverts for things like breast enhancements and female underwear will also be banned, Sarft said.

The watchdog said the move was taken as the adverts were "socially corrupting". In a circular, Sarft said that adverts featuring suggestive language or scantily-clad women were "detrimental to society": Sexually suggestive ads and bad ads not only mislead consumers seriously and harm public health, but are socially corrupting and morally depraving, and directly discredit the radio and TV industry.

Broadcasters that do not obey the rules would face severe penalties, it said.

Sarft has been tightening its grip ahead of the Chinese Communist Party's five-yearly congress in October.

 

15th September   Hatchet Job...
 

 
Hostel Part II DVDHostel Part 2 cut in New Zealand

From TV 3 see full article
The uncut region 1 DVD is available at US Amazon

New Zealand's horror fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of Hostel Part II on the big screen, but it appears all they will get to watch is a diluted DVD version.

New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification says one scene is just too full on and would be "injurious to the public good".

The censors ruled that the movie could only be released if the scene was edited out.

However, the film’s distributor, Sony Pictures (NZ), and many of the fans believe the film would not be harmful to the public if it was released uncut.

Hostel: Part II was said to be a difficult film to classify, so the censors arranged a controlled public viewing of the movie. The people involved in the public viewing represented a broad spectrum of the New Zealand public and were not all horror fans - most of them would normally avoid such films.

After the viewing, the audience was surveyed and 64% said the film should be given an R18 rating and released uncut.

Sony Pictures (NZ) appealed the New Zealand censor's decision, but the Film and Literature Board of Review rejected the appeal by a vote of 3 - 2 and also ruled that the offending scene needed to be censored before the film could be released in New Zealand.

Sony Pictures (NZ) has said they will not edit the film for New Zealand cinemas as it would not make financial sense to do so. Kiwi horror fans will therefore miss out on seeing the gory flick on the silver screen. A censored version may eventually be released on DVD.

Hostel: Part II was released uncensored in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the United States and most of the world.

 

12th September   No Dirty Dancing...
 

 
Bangladesh flag25% of local films banned in Bangladesh

From Google News

Bangladesh's censor board said that it had banned a quarter of all films made by its small "Dhaliwood" movie industry in the past year to stamp out "immoral" cinema.

The industry based in Dhaka made 86 films in the year to June said vice-chairwoman of the censor board Kamrun Nahar. But a quarter were banned because of excessive fight scenes and dirty dancing, Nahar said.

These films are not healthy and they hardly reflect the country's culture and tradition. They were full with obscene materials and don't have any coherent storyline, she said. The banned films include Rebel Girl, Tough Girl, Massacre and The Muscleman, she said. Nahar said, however, that some producers were able to show movies after extensive cuts were made.

An Islamist-allied government began the campaign against "obscene" films in 2004. It amended the film censorship act last year to include a three-year jail term for producers whose movies are judged to be against Bangladeshi cultural values.

 

1st September   Old Timer Censors...
 

 
Canada flagConcern at aging Canadian censors

From The Chronicle Herald

An all party committee of the Nova Scotia legislature is expressing concern over the apparent lack of diversity on the province's film classification board.

The human resources committee has unanimously agreed to defer the appointments of 14 members of the board pending a response about the selection process from the Department of Environment and Labour.

New Democrat Howard Epstein put forward the motion and says it's time the province made sure that agencies, boards and commissions reflect the society they represent. He says seven of the 14 appointments are over the age of 60, something that doesn't reflect current population ratios despite the province's aging population.

The board appointees work part-time, reviewing and classifying all film and video released in Nova Scotia.

Update: Ongoing Lack of Diversity

28th September 2007

Nova Scotia’s film classification board will be without a full complement for at least another month.

The legislature’s all-party human resources committee met and again delayed appointing 14 people to the board, this time because no NDP members were there.

Liberals on the committee said it was apparent there just weren’t enough people applying to ensure diversity on the board so the committee might as well make the appointments.

Update: Back on Censorship Track

5th November 2007

The group of Nova Scotians hoping to review films for the province finally got the thumbs-up at the end of October

Labour Minister Mark Parent, the minister responsible for the film classification board, has told the committee that few people applied for the board, leading to a backlog of DVDs awaiting classification. He said in an Oct. 10 letter that 234 DVDs had piled up, but it is now down to 161.

An all-party committee approved the appointments with no one objecting.

 

31st August   Destricted in Russia...
 

 
Destricted posterNearly restricted in Russia

From Moscow Times see full article

Destricted, a compilation of films by acclaimed artists about pornography, is now playing in Moscow, after a delay its distributors blamed on censorship.

But according to the film's Russian distributors, Destricted almost didn't make it to the capital's cinema screens. It was shown at this year's Moscow International Film Festival in late June, but its planned cinema release later that month was repeatedly postponed, amid rumors of a ban from the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency.

Sem Klebanov, president of the movie's Russian distributor, Cinema Without Frontiers, said that he submitted the film to the cinema agency a few weeks before the Moscow International Film Festival to obtain approval for general release. However: they said it couldn't be shown because it was an amoral film, it was pornography.

In July and August, newspapers speculated on the reasons why the release of the film, whose Russian title is Banned from Cinemas, was pushed back.

Even though Destricted  finally received certification, it looks like opponents of pornography need not worry: At a recent showing, audience member after audience member got up and left, seemingly more out of boredom than disgust.

Destricted is described as a series of reflections on how pornography affects society. Highlights include Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic's Balkan Erotic Epic, which is refreshingly uncomplicated where other contributions seem laden with intellectual baggage. Abramovic solemnly narrates how sexual rituals are integrated into traditional Balkan culture: Farmers hump the ground to ensure a successful crop, and women give their husbands a drink containing a fish that was stored in their vaginas to ensure fidelity. Long live our Slavic faith, Abramovic's subjects sing as they massage their breasts during a fertility rite.

The film was only permitted in Russia for viewing by over-21s.

 

24th August   Censors Raided...
 

 
NEVA logoJapanese police claim that they didn't censor enough

From Mainichi see full article

An adult video screening body was raided by Japanese police over allegations that it helped several Tokyo companies sell overly obscene videos and DVDs by overlooking the images, investigators said.

This is the first time that law enforcers have searched the body, the Nihon Ethics of Video Association, according to Tokyo police. The association has declined to comment on the raid.

The video production companies are accused of releasing DVDs and videos containing obscene images after they were screened by the association, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

The association allegedly helped the firms sell obscene DVDs and videos by failing to screen them properly, according to investigators.


24th August   Update: Pubic Censors...
 

 
NEVA logoJapan's pixellated obscenity law

From the Japan Times see full article

The raid follows NEVA’s relaxing of restrictions on adult movies in June, when NEVA lifted its ban on displays of pubic hair. Tokyo police decided that some material that is acceptable under the revised standards adopted by NEVA go beyond what is allowed under Japanese law, which forbids any commercial distribution of material that displays sexual organs on film and in print.

Despite the fact that Article 21 of the Japanese constitution guarantees that no censorship shall be maintained by the Japanese government, the Japanese government historically has used public hygiene laws to restrict the distribution of obscene materials, according to a comparative study of Japanese and American law written by legal scholar Lawrence Ward Beer.

Under Article 175 of Japan’s revised 1907 Criminal Code, A person who distributes or sells an obscene writing, picture or other object or who publicly displays the same, shall be punished with imprisonment ... or a fine.

Further complicating the distribution of sexually explicit material in Japan is the fact that the definition of “obscene” is even more unclear under Japanese law than under the Miller test for obscenity that guides U.S. law.

It is not yet clear whether any charges will be filed against the producers, distributors or NEVA stemming from Thursday’s raids in Tokyo; according to the Sankei Shimbun, the police currently are investigating how the confiscated material should be examined.


9th September   Update: Thinly Veiled...
 

 
NEVA logoFine pixellation reveals Japanese censorship

From the Japan Times see full article

Police launched the recent raids on NEVA in reaction to the current crop of DVDs, which it claims fail to sufficiently mask on-screen action, thereby qualifying them as obscene.

Until recently, the main players in the AV industry cooperated with the Nihon Ethics of Video Association (NEVA), which applies its seal of approval to discs that comply with self-imposed censorship.

Participation in NEVA is voluntary, but most makers joined because major distributors wouldn't touch their products otherwise, an AV producer tells Weekly Playboy: Their influence was such that an old saying went, 'Your video won't succeed without girls who squeal and NEVA.'

But then a certain company developed 'digital masking' (which typically appears as a mosaic). In a scene showing oral sex for example, the mosaic would perfectly overlap with a man's procreative member, so it was like watching the real thing . . . and the main business shifted to the independent operators that applied these digitalized mosaics.

Faced with this challenge to its authority, NEVA began relaxing its own inspection standards concerning the appearance of mosaics (from October 2004) and other anatomical displays (from August 2006), and it was this, reports Asahi Geino (Sept. 6), that led to the crackdown.

Reviewing the evidence, the reporter agreed that when compared with more staid DVDs, the mosaics on these productions left practically nothing to the imagination.

In the beginning, rental shops wouldn't put out discs unless they complied with NEVA standards, but now only about 30 percent of the items for rent are NEVA-approved, observes Ganari Takahashi, a former president of Soft On Demand, who adds that "digital coverup" work is expensive: It's done one frame at a time, outsourced to overseas labs that employ as many as 100 technicians. A skilled technician might devote 8 hours to a single minute's worth of mosaic. But for a long time the mosaics in NEVA-approved AVs didn't incorporate this level of craftsmanship and were crude by comparison.

 

24th August   Gangs of Film Police...
 

 
Romeo Must DieLay waste Chinese entertainment

From the BBC see full article

Chinese action star Jet Li has voiced frustration that his Hollywood films do not get shown in his home country.

Writing on his website, the star said his 2000 hit Romeo Must Die was banned by censors for featuring gangsters.

In 2001, Kiss of the Dragon was banned because Li's character, a Chinese policeman, killed people abroad.

Li writes: If gangsters aren't appropriate and police officers aren't appropriate, then what type of character can there be that wouldn't start an argument? It leaves only the ancient Chinese stories to be produced.

 

21st August   Christian Censors...
 

 
Swedish censor's logoPlan to abolish Swedish film censorship falters

From SR International

Movies and videos shown in Sweden will continue to undergo the scrutiny of the world’s oldest film censor, the National Board of Film Censors.

Two of the parties in the center-right government, the Conservative Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing Swedish film censorship.

Liberal politician Cecilia Wikström told Swedish Radio news that censorship is an old-fashioned method of trying to prevent people from watching movies, when today it is possible to download any film content over the Internet.

The purpose of the Board of Film Censors is to decide the age limit for movies and to edit out any scenes with heavy violence. The board itself wants to remove its censorship role, and says it hasn’t made a cut in a film in several years.

However, the plan has stalled because another government partner, the Christian Democrats, say there is still a need for film censorship to protect children.


24th August   Update: Swedish Classifier Resigns...
 

 
Swedish censor's logoOver political decision to keep her as censor

From SR International

Gunnel Arrbäck, head of Sweden’s National Board of Film Censors, is to resign from her post, after 26 years on the job.

Arrbäck told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet she had been unable to get her planned changes to the board’s role sanctioned, and would therefore leave her position.

Two of the parties in Sweden’s center-right government, the conservative Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing film censorship. However, the plan has stalled because another government partner, the Christian Democrats, argue there is still a need for film censorship to protect children.

The board itself, the world’s oldest film censor, has repeatedly pushed for a change in its role, restricting it to film classification.

The board says it has not made a cut to a film released in Sweden since Martin Scorcesse’s Casino in 1995.

 

19th August   Star Censors...
 

 
Kaafila posterKaafila cinema release shelved in Pakistan

From India FM see full article

The whole of Pakistan is watching Kaafila, but we were denied the release, thanks to the Pakistani piracy mafia and a few insecure producers, storms Ammtoje Mann, whose film, Kaafila has been banned from release in Pakistan.

The censor board cited reasons seemed to be brought out merely to deny permission. Ammtoje explains: It came as a surprise and the reasons cited were ridiculous like the star on a general's uniform, or one of the travel agents being a Pakistani. I offered to even do the said cuts, and suddenly the list seemed to increase. A member unofficially cited, don't push it. How much will you cut?

Interestingly, the protagonist of the film Sunny Deol plays a Pakistani police officer and his character is shown in a good light.

Enlightening on the modus operandi of the Pakistani piracy mafia, Ammtoje Mann says, It is a very interesting plot, nothing short of a film one. First they let the publicity of the film happen in Pakistan. They ensure that a very good amount is spent to raise public expectations, and then they make sure we don't release the film in theatres. And then they use the publicity to increase their pirated VCD sales. Kaafila, after all the hype, is now being demanded by audiences on pirated VCDs, as they could not see the film in the theatres.

Sad at the lobbied thwarted attempts of a simultaneous Indo-Pak release to build a cultural bridge between India and Pakistan, the makers have decided not to continue the Pak release procedure.

 

11th August   Splits Decision...
 

 
Legs Bar (open all day!)Philippines censor whinges at TV

From Inquirer.net see full article

For airing a dance number that was too sexy and very suggestive on the daily noontime game show Wowowee, ABS-CBN has received another warning from the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB)

A memorandum from MTRCB chair Marissa Laguardia said about viewer complaints: This office [agrees] with the viewers, particularly [about] the part where Valdez spread her legs.

A three-episode suspension was earlier imposed by the MTRCB on Wowowee on account of several violations, including one in its May 12 episode where the breast of Eda Nolan, a cast member of the youth show Gokada Go, was exposed while dancing. The suspension is on appeal.

 

30th July   Slapstick Censors...
 

 
Rush Hour 3 posterRush Hour 3 in the Chinese slow lane

From Variety see full article

The Rush Hour 3, with its clueless cops and international star Jackie Chan, seems like an unlikely political football.

But Asia is abuzz with talk of the slapstick comedy being slapped with a rumored ban in mainland China, even though star Chan is one of China's favorite sons.

The Film Bureau, the body that oversees the release approval procedure, told Variety the pic is still being considered by the censorship committee, and insisted it has not been banned. But sources close to the film and other distributors in the region say Chinese censors will likely not greenlight a theatrical outing in China.

The problem is apparently a scene featuring a Chinese organized crime family that Chan and Chris Tucker's characters take on during a visit to Paris. With Triad dealings so central to the plot, authorities possibly much higher than the Film Bureau have apparently decided the pic is fundamentally anti-Chinese and are not offering filmmakers a chance to recut.


11th August   Update: Censors Gang Up Against Rush Hour 3...
 

 
Rush Hour 3 posterBanned in China

From AHN

Rush Hour 3 staring a national hero in China, Jackie Chan and American actor Chris Tucker, has been banned from showing in China.

According to Ireland Online, the film was banned due to the associated portrayal of the Triad gang but the Film Bureau insists the decision was purely a commercial decision.

Strict rules of censorship govern the import of films into China with only 20 foreign releases permitted into the country each year.

 

6th August   Festival of Classification...
 

 
CNC logoFrench classifiers look to classify film festival films

The French classifier only placed age restrictions on 3.5% of film releases. And their ratings are then taken very seriously by French people.

From Variety

The French Commission for Film Classification wants to extend its powers to include rating festival films.

The commission has asked the Culture Ministry to deny festivals the exemption that allows them to dodge the age restrictions placed on films on general release.

The commission does not have the authority to cut films but can ask the Culture Ministry not to issue a permit for theatrical release.

In its annual report, the body reported that of 1,087 films viewed in the past year, 1,031 were deemed suitable for all audiences. 39 films were forbidden to under those 12 and 16 to those under 16. Only one film, Saw III, was restricted to those 18 and older.

Last week, the commission whipped up a storm by ruling that Romanian abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is suitable for all audiences.

The film will be released Aug. 29 with a warning for “sensitive viewers” and the suggestion that children be accompanied by an adult.

 

30th July   Indian Censors are Pants...
 

 
Indian underwear advertUnderwear adverts are banned as indecent, vulgar & suggestive

From Desi Babes Indian see full article
See banned advert on YouTube

The Indian government has banned two underwear advertisements — Lux Cozy and Amul Macho — claiming them to be indecent, vulgar and suggestive.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry has instructed all television channels to stop showing the advertisement with immediate effect. The ads have been considered "indecent, vulgar and suggestive" and thus violate the Advertising Code, the Ministry said in its order.

The advertisements were being shown on many channels including Star Plus, India TV, NDTV and IBN 7.

The I&B ministry has directed all channels to stop screening ads of Lux Cozy and Amul Macho. One of the ads shows a woman washing a man’s underwear at a ghat and progressively getting turned on. Her washing actions turn more suggestive, as she pounds the underwear.

In the other, a washerwoman calls at an apartment to pick up laundry and a man wearing a towel answers the door. As his towel drops, leaving him only in his undies, she eyes him flirtatiously.

 

23rd July   Martial Law of Film Censorship...
 

 
Awarapan posterIndian films are banned in Pakistan...mostly

Note that Awarapan is listed as an Indian film on IMDb

From Malaysia Sun see full article

Awarapan, a movie starring Bollywood actor Emran Hashmi, has triggered a fierce court row between Pakistan's government and a movie producer who wants the film banned.

The ministry of culture and the Censor Board, in a joint reply to the Lahore High Court, have justified the screening of Awarapan, saying it was produced in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and not India.

The reply was submitted on the petition of producer Younas Malik, who challenged the movie's exhibition.

The government told the court that Al-Alam Plastic Factory LLC in the UAE had produced the movie and its distributor, Sohail Khan, had applied for permission to screen the movie in Pakistan. The movie was mainly shot in Hong Kong and partly in Pakistan.

The government also explained that there were three categories for Indian film or films with Indian artists in Pakistan.

  1. Films produced in India are banned in Pakistan since 1965.
  2. Films produced in Pakistan containing Indian artists were also not allowed under Martial Law order 57.
  3. Films produced in foreign countries except India, even though having Indian artists, could be shown in Pakistan in view of the amendment carried out in Rule 10 of Censorship of Films Rules of 1980.'

Awarapan' had been allowed under a third category. The Censor Board had issued a certificate, clearing the film as suitable for public exhibition with certain cuts.

While Bollywood movies are not allowed into Pakistan, there is a huge thriving market for Indian cassettes, CDs and DVDs, allegedly smuggled from the Gulf.

 

18th July   Closer to Mob Rule...
 

 
Closer DVDIndian censor talks about the easily offended

From The Age see full article

As India's chief film censor, there are films Sharmila Tagore enjoys to watch but will not allow the Indian public to see.

She describes the Mike Nichols film Closer, which starred Julia Roberts and Jude Law, as beautiful, brilliant and well-performed.

But the producers would not agree to cut some sexually explicit dialogue, and so the film did not get its certificate for release in India.

She said she feared that the wordy sex talk of the film's neurotic Londoners, once hastily dubbed into Hindi, might not be well-received by Indian audiences - especially those outside the big metropolises, who are typically more conservative, less educated and, she says, less "media-literate".

Films can corrupt, she said, particularly when it comes to how men view women. At the same time we have to know the pulse of the people. We don't want to be too restrictive.

Her team sits through about 1,000 feature-length films each year. They order cuts to be made in roughly two out of every three films, and deny a distribution certificate to about a dozen films each year, often for inciting violence against minorities.

She regrets that at the back of everyone's minds are India's small band of conservative zealots who react noisily, often for political gain, whenever they believe Indian values are threatened, organising mobs that break and burn objects in front of television cameras and beat people up.

The fear of what Tagore calls street censorship has forced the film board to be more strict than it might otherwise be: In India everybody is in the mood to get offended right now.

She reckons things have become worse since she was the target of angry conservatives in the 1960s when she appeared on a film magazine cover wearing only a bikini - an unprecedented level of public skimpiness for an Indian woman at the time.

Bikinis are now more than acceptable, and some Bollywood stars have even started kissing and performing sex scenes onscreen in recent years. Tagore is not impressed: I've seen actors kissing and they're still not very comfortable with it. They're trying to be progressive. But India is very superficially modern. In these films the dresses are modern, the dancing is modern, the hairstyles are modern, but when it comes to thinking, then they're very conservative.

 

10th July   The Scent of Censorship...
 

 
Scent of the Lotus Plant posterMilitary censors in Sri Lanka

From Counter Currents see full article

Sathyajith Maitipe has just received instructions from the Sri Lanka Censorship Board to remove the sexual scenes from his film, even if he expects to get an Adults Only certificate. The film is Bora Diya Pokuna (Scent of the Lotus Pond)

This is no surprise; similar demands have been made of other filmmakers: Ashoka Handagama (Aksharaya / Letter from the Fire) and Prasanna Vithanage (Purahada Kaluwara / Darkness of the Full Moon) in the past.

The Sri Lankan Public Performance Board operates under the Ministry of Defence. Their brief is to keep an eye on anything they considered might damage Culture or interfere with National Security.

 

9th July   Update: Rated S for State Censorship...
 

 
BBFC 15 certificateThai film censors to be dominated by bureaucrats

Based on an article from the Bangkok Post

The government's attempt to pass the Film Bill has run into opposition. Last week the Thai Film Directors Association and Thai Film Foundation issued a protest against the bill, which has been approved by the cabinet and is now going into the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

The bill will introduce a film rating system, which will govern access to cinemas by age classification. If passed by the NLA, the bill will also oversee the setting up of a National Film and Video Committee to be responsible for assigning the ratings and possibly supervising other film-related policies.

The protesters raised two valid points. Firstly, the film and video committee, under the bill, will be made up of 16 government officials and seven ''experts'' appointed by the government.

That goes against the spirit of allowing more public participation and guaranteeing the film industry gets a fair say.

In early discussions on the bill, film professionals proposed a model where the committee would be made up of an equal number of representatives from three sectors, the government, the film industry and the public, comprising groups such as parent or student associations. The idea is to ensure that the voice of filmmakers, and the audience, is heard, rather than letting government officials with limited understanding of the movie business make all the decisions, which often betray double standards and smack of unrealistic calls to cut or ban a film.

The committee is necessary, and filmmakers' demands should be taken into account.

The second issue raised by the protesters is that it maintains the state's right to cut or ban films. This is also against the spirit of a fair rating system.

Age restrictions mean the government already possesses a measure of control, and to retain the right to cut scenes or ban films is disturbing at least, and dictatorial at most.

The idea should be to promote and oversee, not to control, cut and ban

 

6th July   Hard to Talk About...
 


IFCO logoA rare debate about hardcore legality in Ireland

John Kelleher as usual avoids giving a view on vanilla hardcore. It seems incredible that a national censor says so little about such an important aspect of his job.

From X Biz see full article

The Ireland's film censor John Kelleher is calling for a debate on pornography to modernize "inadequate" legislation dealing with the adult industry, saying the current system fails to protect children and ignores modern technology: I think our society would benefit from a rational and informed discussion about all the issues and viewpoints relating to pornography. For example, what implications are there in content that would currently be prohibited here being readily available on the web?

Kelleher said that most of the material he is currently required to ban could be released without causing much offense.
[does this statement implicitly include hardcore?]

The term pornography is not used in the film and censorship legislation,
Kelleher said. The 1989 Video Recordings Act empowers the film censor to prohibit a video if, in his opinion, it contains ‘obscene or indecent matter’ which would tend to ‘deprave or corrupt’ persons viewing it. Note the act refers to ‘persons,’ not young children, so that includes all persons, i.e. adults. It’s quite hard to envisage how any of the so-called soft-porn DVDs could possibly be deemed to ‘deprave or corrupt’ an adult.
[yes but what aout hardcore?]

Unlike many European countries, Ireland does not license sex retailers. Videos sold in self-proclaimed adult stores in Ireland are usually technically illegal because under the Video Recordings Act, a video cannot be sold until it is rated by the Irish Film Censor’s Office. Shop owners often bypass the censor’s office, leading to occasional police raids where films are seized en masse and sent to the censor’s office to confirm they have not been rated. In 2006, the censor’s office was involved in 55 court cases where films were being sold without being certified.

Kelleher thinks the laws should be updated: Bizarrely, it is actually not an offense for a video store to supply a DVD to a person who is younger than the rating age designated on the label.

Many shop owners oppose regulation of adult videos. They say that fees for classifying films will not be recouped on the profits from sales.

What one person deems pornographic, another may find innocuous. It is a term commentators find notoriously difficult to define. In my view, images that are sexually explicit need not necessarily be pornographic, Kelleher said.

From Irish Examiner

The right of the Irish Film Censor to ban explicit films is to be challenged in the High Court. The case against the Censorship of Films Appeals Board is being taken by a section of the country’s adult shop industry.

A catalyst for the case was the decision to increase the cost of having films reviewed and licensed by the Irish Film Censor’s Office (IFCO). These are prohibitive for small scale specialist releases.

The High Court challenge comes as concern rises about the effect some of the extreme hard-core titles are having on society. Rape crisis groups have said extreme material on sale in the unregulated adult shop sector is contributing to growing levels of violence in sex crimes.

 

27th June   Second Thoughts...
 

 
Malaysia flagCensorship crazed Malays to re-evaluate banned films

From X Biz see full article

The Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry plans to set up a committee comprising local film activists to re-evaluate banned films.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said that the proposed committee would make the evaluation in terms of creativity, theme and sensitivity, particularly in the case of films banned for their racial overtones.

Rais said the appointment of the panel of arts activists could help in terms of the creativity aspect of the films.

However, he said, the committee would only be empowered to evaluate a film before it got the approval for screening from the censorship board.

 

24th June   A Taboo Too Far...
 

 
 Begum Nawazish AliTransvestite chat show given marching orders in Pakistan

From the BBC see full article

Pakistan's first and only television chat show hosted by a transvestite is being taken off air after falling foul of the state censor.

Ali Saleem, who dresses up as Begum Nawazish Ali for the show, said its last broadcast will be on 1 July.

The popular late night programme features politicians and celebrities in frank conversations.

It is believed to have aggravated feelings in the army with its remarks about the military.

Referring to pressure from the censors, Ali Saleem told the BBC: My show was being slaughtered and the channel was helpless to do anything about it.

He said that some members of the army were particularly offended that the character of Begum Nawazish Ali is supposed to be the widow of an army colonel.

Ali Saleem has been previously described in a US daily as having devised the perfect, if improbable, cover for breaking taboos in conservative, Muslim Pakistan. He is said to have managed not only to bring up the subject of sex on his prime-time television talk show, but to do so without stirring a backlash from fundamentalist Islamic clerics. And he has done so as a “woman”.

 

24th June   Cuts & Bans...
 

 
BBFC 15 certificateThailand proposes Suitable for All, 15, 18 & Banned film certificates

From the Bangkok Post by Kong Rithdee

Big Sister at our Ministry of unCulture is pushing a new Film Act that promises a weird rating system that will zap us back to the Dark Ages, if not into a black hole.

Now in the pipeline to be tabled before Cabinet and subsequently to the National Legislative Assembly, the draft of the new film law, written by the Council of State under the guidance of the hawks at the unCulture Ministry, proposes a system unseen before in the history of film rating (bar Communist states).

As written, there will be the G rating, given to a movie suitable for all age groups; the over-15 rating, the over-18, and here's the kick: the "Banned" rating.

Hidden like a dagger in a cloak is another clause that gives legal right to the film committees, which will be made up mainly of bureaucrats, to axe "inappropriate scenes". They just adore their scissors, these self-appointed dogs - I mean watchdogs - and with the tenacity of a rottweiler biting into the arm of a suspect murderer, they'll do everything to cling on to their power to cut, hack, bite, butcher, amputate, mutilate and maim. In short, there will be both the rating and the cut.

This proposed legislation is not in the least an improvement to the antiquated, pre-constitutional monarchy 1930 Film Act that is still being enforced today. Seventy-seven years of trying to catch up with reality, and still we fail miserably. It's not just disappointing, it's utterly sad.

 

20th June   British Board of Game Censors...
 

   
Manhunt 2 game cover
British & Irish Censors reject video game Manhunt 2

From the BBFC see full article

The BBFC has rejected the video game Manhunt 2. This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. The game was submitted in both a PS2 and a Nintendo Wii version. The decision was taken by the Director and the Presidential Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Lord Taylor of Warwick and Janet Lewis-Jones.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: Rejecting a work is a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material which contravenes the Board’s published Guidelines. In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game.

Although the difference should not be exaggerated the fact of the game’s unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating this submission from the original Manhunt game. That work was classified ‘18’ in 2003, before the BBFC’s recent games research had been undertaken, but was already at the very top end of what the Board judged to be acceptable at that category.

Against this background, the Board’s carefully considered view is that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform, would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public.

No Political Influence

From GamesIndustry.biz see full article

The BBFC has stated that there was no political influence in the decision to ban Rockstar's Manhunt 2

The original Manhunt caused a media frenzy following release when it was unfairly linked by the press to the murder of teenager Stefan Pakeerah.

However, the BBFC's Sue Clark has told GamesIndustry.biz that past incidents have not influenced the decision to deny the sequel to UK consumers.

That had nothing to do with this decision, absolutely not, said Clark: We are independent of government and independent of the industry and we reached this decision based on our guidelines and our concerns and not on any other basis at all.

Recent research by the BBFC showed that negative press surrounding controversial games actually encourages sales. A UK ban of Manhunt 2 would not be able to stop dedicated consumers importing copies on release.

Banned in Ireland

From Irish Examiner.com

Ireland has joined the UK in banning the violent video game Manhunt 2.

The Irish Film Censors Office (IFCO) said it contained gross acts of violence, making it the first video game to be banned in the State: A prohibition order has been made by IFCO in relation to the video game Manhunt 2. The Order was made under Sec 7 (1) (b) of the Video Recordings Act 1989 which refers to acts of gross violence or cruelty (including mutilation and torture).

IFCO recognises that in certain films, DVDs and video games, strong graphic violence may be a justifiable element within the overall context of the work. However, in the case of Manhunt 2, IFCO believes that there is no such context, and the level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence is unacceptable.

Rockstar Games today said that it “emphatically disagrees” with the decision to ban Manhunt 2 from stores in the UK.

The subject matter of 'Manhunt 2' is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers, the company said, stressing that the game is aimed at over-18s and not children: Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers.

The statement added: We respect those who have different opinions about the horror genre and video games as a whole, but we hope they will also consider the opinions of the adult gamers for whom this product is intended.

We believe all products should be rated to allow the public to make informed choices about the media and art they wish to consume.

The company will consider over the next few days whether or not to launch an appeal, a spokesman said.

Rated Adults Only in USA

From Games Dog see full article

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has given Manhunt 2 an AO rating, the highest rating which will severely restrict its sale in the U.S.

The problems arise from the fact that the major U.S retailers do not stock games with an AO rating.

Although this is only an initial rating, giving the publishers Take Two a chance to modify the game, it is difficult to see what can be done to mollify the censors.

A Take-Two representative commented: Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media. We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of Manhunt 2.

 

13th June  Chinese Censors Wield their Cutlasses...
 

   
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End poster
Cuts to the latest Pirates of the Caribbean

From the BBC see full article

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has been censored for Chinese cinema audiences, according to  Variety.

Some scenes with Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat, playing Singapore pirate Captain Sao Feng, have been trimmed.

Variety quoted local media reports that said the cuts included Chow's recitation of a poem in Cantonese called Guan Shan Yue.

On Chinese web forums, many people have criticised the film's image of Chow's character - who is bald, has long nails and is dressed in Qing dynasty style. They have said it is the image of the Chinese in the eyes of Hollywood producers.

China Film Group, which distributes the film, initially said it had made no cuts, then declined to comment on a Beijing News report that it had cut scenes involving too much violence and horror, Variety said.

The report said the cuts make the film difficult to follow: The sudden debut of the captain confused the audience at the Beijing screening, the report said.

 

11th June  Freedom Put to Sleep...
 

   
Peacefull Pill Handbook, book cover
New Zealand bans euthanasia book

Based on an article from TV3 see full article

The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification has banned the latest work from Australian Philip Nitschke for its step by step guide on assisted suicide and instructions on how to break the law.

After five months of consultation the censors have decided to ban The Peaceful Pill Handbook which has been ruled objectionable material, making it illegal to buy, sell, import or own in New Zealand.

Dr Nitschke handed the book to the censors in February, drawing submissions from the Medical Council, Ministry of Health, Police and euthanasia groups.

Chief Censor Bill Hastings, says although suicide is not illegal, the book advocated various criminal acts to make a persons death possible.

 

31st May   Reporting on Irish Film Censorship...
 


IFCO logoAnnual report released

As usual the report, and indeed the VOD study, never even mention the subject of hardcore porn

From IFCO
See Report on Video on Demand [pdf]
See 2006 Annual Report [pdf]t

The Irish Film Censor, John Kelleher, has today (30th May 2007) published his Annual Report for the year 2006.

Among the developments highlighted in the Report:
  • More than 10,000 cinema films and DVD/videos were certified during the year
  • There was a significant increase in the number of non-mainstream or ‘arthouse’ films submitted for certification
  • The number of visitors to the IFCO website was up 16% on the previous year
  • The results of the research IFCO commissioned Lansdowne Market Research to carry out into the attitudes of parents and adolescents to strong language in films
IFCO also commissioned a study by Dr. Jim Barratt, international film and media consultant, to carry out into future classification options in the fast changing landscape of film and home entertainment.

 

29th May   Wrong Time...
 


Burma flagBiography banned in Burma

From Stuff see full article

A biography of Burma’s former late prime minister U Nu, timed to be released on what would have been his 100th birthday today, has been banned by the Burmese censorship board.

The book’s author Than Win Hlaing, who recently finished a seven year prison sentence for writing about independence hero general Aung San, said he was told by the government that now was not the time for a book on U Nu: It took about three months to put together the information. Then it was submitted to the censor board. They told me that even though the information was correct, the book would have to be referred to the central censorship unit because the situation is not right at the moment. They said it might take one or two years for the central unit to review it. I assume that means that it hasn’t been passed.

Than Win Hlaing said that if he was not allowed to publish the book in Burma then he would try to have it published outside the country. He said it contained information on U Nu’s detention in Insein prison after the 1962 coup led by general Ne Win.

 

17th May   Rape and Incest...
 


Bible warning: Do not take it literallyCall to classify the bible as indecent in Hong Kong

From Stuff see full article

More than 800 Hong Kong residents have called on authorities to reclassify the Bible as "indecent" due to its sexual and violent content, following an uproar over a sex column in a university student journal.

A spokesperson for Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing authority (TELA) said it had received 838 complaints about the Bible.

The complaints follow the launch of an anonymous Web site,
www.truthbible.net, which said the holy book "made one tremble" given its sexual and violent content, including rape and incest.

The Web site said the Bible's sexual content "far exceeds" that of a recent sex column published in the Chinese University's "Student Press" magazine, which had asked readers whether they'd ever fantasised about incest or bestiality.

That column was later deemed "indecent" by the Obscene Articles Tribunal, sparking a storm of debate about social morality and freedom of speech.

If the Bible is similarly classified as "indecent" by authorities, only those over 18 could buy the holy book and it would need to be sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice.

TELA said it was still undecided on whether the Bible had violated Hong Kong's obscene and indecent articles laws.


18th May   Update: Classified as Fiction...
 


Bible warning: Do not take it literallyBible acceptable by community standards

From The Telegraph see full article

Hong Kong's media regulator said it would not reclassify the Bible as an indecent publication following more than 2,000 complaints about its sexual and violent content, including rape and incest.

The Bible is a religious text which is part of civilisation. It has been passed from generation to generation, the Television and Licensing Authority (TELA) ruled last night.

The regulator received 2,041 such complaints in the last week, but said it would not submit the Bible to the tribunal for obscene classification.

The Bible had not violated standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable members of the community, TELA said in a statement.

 

2nd May   Category III Warning...
 


A Better Tomorrow DVD coverChinese market and censorship is toning down Hong Kong movies

From Rocky Mountain News see full article

Hong Kong movies, long known for their stylish violence, are being geared toward the expanding Chinese market and stricter censorship standards there, and observers are worried that Hong Kong cinema is losing its edge.

Hong Kong-Chinese co-productions are now the norm. Top directors favor ancient Chinese epics that appeal to a broader audience and are less likely to offend Chinese censors wary of bloodshed or flesh-baring. Stories about gang feuds and urban love stories are becoming rare, giving way to period dramas.

John Woo, who made the Hong Kong gangster classic A Better Tomorrow and moved on to Hollywood fame, is about to start shooting Red Cliff, based on a famous ancient Chinese battle.

Now the first thing Hong Kong investors will say is, you have to find a mainland Chinese partner. Can this movie be released in mainland China? If it can't, (they'll say) 'I'll have some concerns,' said Peter Tsi, executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Ann Hui, a respected Hong Kong director, said she was careful about portraying a Chinese policewoman in her Chinese-financed love story Goddess of Mercy. The Chinese censorship system bans quite a few topics, including sex, violence and the dark side of real life, she said.

 

30th April   Indian Censors Shown in Poor Light...
 


Mysterious disappearance of freedom of speech during police interrogation

From Tamil Star see full article

India flag Kelvikuri was completed in 17 days and went to the Censor Board. The problems started then. On the premise that the film depicted the police force in poor light, the Censor asked 2 police officers to see the film. When they police officers said they were horrified at the depiction of the police in the film, the Censor Board refused to give the clearance certificate.

What is so terrible in Kelvikuri for such strict action?

Simple! The hero's wife is taken by police for interrogation. There she dies under mysterious circumstances and no satisfactory explanation is given. The angry hero barges into the police commissioner's house and makes hostages of the inmates. He then invites the police officers one by one and takes revenge on them.

People under interrogation missing from police stations, committing suicide by hanging, people dying under mysterious circumstances are all everyday happenings in India. People protesting for justice against such actions of police are also common.

Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

 

23rd April   Police Censors...
 


Thailand to introduce film ratings

From Monsters & Critics

Ministry of culture bannerThailand's ministry of culture has drafted a new Thai Film Act to be submitted to national legislators in an effort to update the kingdom's currently archaic censorship system.

It's now ready for the NLA (National Legislative Assembly), senior ministry official Ladda Tangsuphachitold The Nation newspaper. The major change is that it will introduce a film-rating system.

The Thai film industry has been petitioning governments for decades to amend the current Thai Film Act that was promulgated in 1930.

Under existing legislation, Thai and foreign films are subject to appraisals by a strict censorship board, dominated by senior police officers, that have a reputation for cutting out all explicit sex scenes and anything deemed offensive to the national religion, Buddhism, or themes thought politically sensitive.

The industry has been lobbying to have the current censorship system replaced by film ratings, such as 'R' for films restricted to adults.

The debate over film censorship became a news items last week when the award-winning Thai film Saeng Sattawat (Syndromes and a Century) missed its local debut in Thai theatres on Thursday because Thailand's board of censors insisted on cutting several 'sensitive' scenes.

 

15th April   Not Suitable for Ailing Hearts...
 


Malaysia film censor's logoContributing to the hype for Malaysia's Don't Look Back

From nine msn

The Malaysian censors have warned pregnant women and people with heart problems to avoid watching a new horror movie, providing publicity that is helping it break local box office records.

Don't Look Back, which chronicles a man's probe into his fiancee's mysterious death, is set to become the highest-grossing local film ever, said producer David Teo.

A review by the Malay Mail newspaper called it the scariest local movie ever made. The Malay-language movie also gained notoriety because a stuntman fell to his death in an accident during shooting.

Don't Look Back received some unexpected publicity after the government-run National Censorship Board insisted the movie's posters and advertisements include a warning: Not suitable for pregnant women and those with ailing hearts.

Children below 14 years old must be accompanied by adult guardians, Teo said, adding that surveys indicate teenagers comprise about 40% of the movie's 400,000 viewers so far.

 

14th April  Liberal Doses...
 


Philippines flagA vague chance of more adult fare on Philippines TV

Based on an article from Manila Standard Today see full article

Films contain lengthy scenes of scantily dressed or almost nude couples in various acts of lovemaking have start ed to appear on TV. As have some that portray violence.

A little inquiry made by this journalist revealed that this phenomenon can be traced to the issuance of a directive by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) which allows all television stations to air programs “containing liberal dose of violence and sexual scenes” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The catch is that Memorandum Circular 03-07, signed by MTRCB Chairperson Ma. Consoliza Laguardia on March 7, does not say what liberal dose exactly means.

A board member of the MTRCB said the circular is defective because films that are shown on TV have only two classifications—one for general viewing (GV) and the other with parental guidance (PG).

Has the issuance of the circular given TV stations the license to air whatever shows they want—including those that have (restricted) rating? The more intrepid in the entertainment industry may stretch the interpretation of the circular by assuming that even graphic, hardcore porn is now allowed as long as it is aired within the designated hours.

According to the MTRCB member, films with R and For Adults Only ratings still could not be shown and this should have been clearly specified in the circular.

In her circular, Laguardia merely stated that the rationale behind the policy is to protect young viewers from the negative and harmful effects of such programs and allow adult audiences to enjoy these kinds of programs.

If the indiscriminate showing of sex and violence-oriented films is happening without a howl of public protest, perhaps it is because the usually-vigilant media is now pre-occupied with the election campaign and thus has inadvertently overlooked the matter.

 

12th April  Virtual Sex Machine...
 


CBSC logoCanadian TV regulator considers this inappropriate to 8am

From Reuters

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that an April 16, 2006, episode of MTV Live that was broadcast at 8 a.m. was inappropriate for a morning time slot.

The offending episode, which included segments on a virtual sex machine and an online role-playing sex game, led one viewer to file a formal complaint with the CBSC.

It was the creepiest, most distasteful thing I've ever seen on television! This was cable TV, Easter Monday at 8:30 a.m.!, the viewer wrote. The viewer was particularly concerned about a segment on a virtual sex machine, which he described as "indecent" and "distasteful."

The CBSC weighed in, ruling that the MTV Live episode breached an industry code of ethics, holding that sexually explicit content should not air before the industry-established watershed hour of 9 p.m.

The CBSC referees said TV programming is considered adult fare in Canada if it contains explicit "dialogue, discussion or descriptions" of sex.

The CBSC also said that MTV Canada failed to air viewer advisories before airing the program.

 

11th April  Political Censorship...
 


Zahari's 17 yearsUndermining public confidence in Singapore

From Mainichi see full article
See also trailer

Singapore said it would ban a documentary about the 17-year detention of a former leftist activist because its "distorted and misleading" portrayal of the events could undermine confidence in the government.

Zahari's 17 Years is a 49-minute interview with Said Zahari, who was arrested in 1963 on suspicion of plotting violent acts and detained without trial for 17 years. Said, 78, now lives in Malaysia.

The Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, which vets all films before release, said in a statement that the film was an attempt to clear Said of his involvement in activities against Singapore: The Government will not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past, to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the Government. This could undermine public confidence in the Government.

Filmmaker Martyn See, who was under investigation last year for a documentary about an opposition leader, said he was surprised by the ban. He said the film, produced at the end of 2005, had been approved twice last year with a PG rating: I don't know what changed. Maybe different people with different views watched it this time.

He said he had been ordered by the censorship board to surrender all copies of the film by Wednesday afternoon.

 

6th April  Naff Films...
 


Pakistan flagPakistan maintains protectionist ban on Indian films

From Asia Media see full article

The Pakistani Film Censor Board has said that it will not allow unchecked access to Indian movies but permit only those films made by Pakistani producers and directors with foreign technology.

The films, which are made abroad with foreign actors and technicians, are not liable to be put under strict censor policies, however, no stuff would be allowed which does not come in conformity with our moral values, said Azfar Shafqat, chairman of the Central Film Censor Board of Pakistan.

Shafqat admitted that local film industry was going through the toughest crisis of its history but he believed it was because of the poor quality of the Pakistani movies and nothing else: The qualities of our films have declined to a huge extent, which is why they are rejected by the masses. Even, a few films, which are good in quality succeed in present circumstances, which shows that the industry is on decline for its own weaknesses and nothing else should be blamed for.

Shafqat said the number of Pakistani films had almost touched to naught, which could improve if their quality was improved with joint efforts.

 

2nd April  Nutter Baton Charge Repulsed...
 


Bill HastingsNew Zealand censor declines to reconsider Lesbian Cops

Based on an article from Scoop

The New Zealand censor, Bill Hastings, has declined an application to reclassify Lesbian Cops.

The nutters from the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards had targeted a sexually explicit video featuring actors "pretending to be police officers" using police batons as "sex toys" (dildos).

Hastings dismissed the Society's concerns by arguing that There is no evidence of reluctance, coercion or power imbalance in the feature and there is very little in the video recording that bears any resemblance to the events to which the applicant refers [news stories about the alleged misuse of police batons by NZ police in sex and group orgies involving former NZ police members].

The Classification Office's decision on video Lesbian Cops... notes: The feature mostly has an easy and relaxed tone, except the role-plays are simulating the stereotypical attitude of the 'tough cop'. The rather humorous role-play ... often puts the police character in a position of dominance. The use of a police baton as a dildo ('sex toy') is degrading too, as it presents an object usually seen as an authoritative weapon, as a penetrative sex toy... a variety of wooden and plastic dildos are used throughout the sex scenes.

 

29th March  Internet Censors...
 

   
Media Development Authority of SingaporeSingapore censors look to extend into Internet TV

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Singapore's media regulator said it is looking to expand its jurisdiction from the traditional print and broadcast sector to include the emergence of new media markets.

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) said it was seeking public feedback to its Media Market Conduct Code, which is under review to better address competition issues that may arise under the new landscape.

It said the code was first implemented in 2003 to regulate the market for print and broadcast media, mainly newspapers and television. But the situation was more complex since the emergence of Internet broadband services and the convergence of telecommunications and television services, it said.

Ling Pek Ling, director for media policy at MDA said: With the emergence of new media markets and the introduction of HDTV and IPTV services, it is timely for us to look at how we can update our code to meet the needs of the media industry.

 

24th March  Update: Sanctions Lost in Beijing...
 

   
SARFT logoNo punishment for uncut festival showing

From China Post see full article

A Chinese producer and director who screened an uncensored movie at the Berlin Film Festival last month have so far escaped punishment.

The fate of the filmmakers behind Lost in Beijing has drawn attention because two of their Chinese counterparts were banned from making movies for five years after showing a film at the Cannes Film Festival last year without government approval.

Producer Fang Li and director Li Yu went through a protracted censorship process in China that saw them editing Lost in Beijing five times before it was cleared to screen in Berlin.

Fang, however, ended up screening the uncensored version of the movie in Berlin in mid-February, saying he didn't have time to finish post-production and adding subtitles to the censored cut.

Fang said in a telephone interview Tuesday both he and director Li haven't been punished by China's Film Bureau. He speculated it was because the Chinese government doesn't want to draw attention to the case: If they punish me ... everyone's going to hear about this. The press is going cover this. It just makes them look bad.

 

20th March   Cannot See Saw...
 

   
Media Development Authority of SingaporeAdult rated videos still banned in Singapore

From Channel News Asia See full article

Anyone who missed R21 films like Saw III and Borat in the Singapore cinemas is unlikely to find the DVDs at their neighbourhood video store anytime soon. And that's the official word from the Media Development Authority (MDA).

The regulatory body in charge of film and video classification revealed in a recent email interview with Today that it's taking "a phased approach".

One of the major community concerns noted by Cassandra Tay, the MDA's director of communications, was the issue of videos with explicit content being accessed by the young. The MDA will consult all its stakeholders, including the public, before taking the next course of action.

In other words: Hold your horses. Video classification started in 2004 allowing titles up to M18 to be imported for sale and rental. Two and a half years into implementation, film buffs are still unable to get their hands on R21 movies like Kill Bill Vol 1.

To date, according to Tay, there have been 16 breaches relating to conditions of sale. These include the lack of signage indicating age restrictions, not enforcing the age restrictions or inappropriate display of publicity material for such restricted titles. This small number of errant distributors, however, has not been enough to persuade the MDA to hasten the speed of liberalisation.

We'll consider the possibility of allowing R21 titles in due course, was all Tay would say, declining to disclose a time frame by which this might take place.

 

19th March   Update: Book Ban Shelved...
 

   
China flag
China shows sensitivity to criticism of its censorship

From The Times See full article

A wave of online outrage has forced Chinese censors into an unprecedented decision to allow eight banned books to remain on the shelves for a while.

The books, which touch on long-taboo historical and social issues, remained on sale yesterday, even in official bookstores despite an official ban, with penalties and fines imposed on the publishing houses, which have been told not to print more copies.

In an apparent attempt to quell public outrage officials chose to allow existing stocks of the books to sell out.

Demand has been high. At the respected All Sages bookshop in Beijing, Cang Sang, by Xiao Jian, which tells the tale of a man from the 1911 fall of the last emperor to the Great Leap Forward in 1958, sold out this week.

Officials at the General Administration of Press and Publication, effectively China’s office of censorship, were stunned when news of their unannounced ban provoked a furious response from bloggers.

Publication on the internet of a second letter by the renowned author, Zhang Yihe, will only add to the authorities’ woes. Zhang, who spent ten years in jail during the Cultural Revolution, addressed her letter to the current session of parliament, calling for an end to all forms of censorship. She urged the National People’s Congress to look into the prohibition of Performers’ Pasts, an apparently innocuous book on the lives of Peking opera singers, along with the seven other publications.

In a rare interview the reclusive Zhang told The Times: I am a low-key person. But after my first, second and third books were banned it was more than any person could endure. As a citizen I must stand up. I don’t care if I succeed or fail. “ It is unbearable to be put on such a list. They deny that the ban on my book is linked to my family background. In fact, that’s the very reason.

Hu Fayun, who wrote This is how it goes@ SARS.com, a novel about a woman who fell in love with the internet at the cost of her relationship with a vice-mayor during the SARS outbreak, has few doubts about the power of the internet: The traditional ‘no-talk’ style of control by the Government has been broken by the internet. Different voices can be found there, he said. Hu has never been notified of the ban. But then, he said, many policies are implemented in China without ever being announced.


22nd April   Update: Book Burner Fired...
 

   
China flag
Chinese book censor faces the axe

From Javno See full article

China's chief censor is likely to lose his job amid criticism over a ban on books that has highlighted the country's strict media controls.

The South China Morning Post said Long Xinmin, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, would soon be demoted to a deputy director of the Central Party Literature Research Centre.

One source told the paper it might be due to Long's handling of the January ban of eight books examining sensitive events in China's recent Chinese history, such as a book about long-dead Peking Opera stars written by Zhang Yihe.

While banning of books, magazines and newspaper has long been common in one-party China, the censorship office has come under intense international and domestic criticism since Long took up his job 15 months ago.

The South China Morning Post said Zhang applied to a Beijing court on Wednesday to overturn the ban on her book on the high-pitched matters of traditional opera.

 

17th March  Too Mature...
 


Bill HastingsNew Zealand censor questioned by MPs

From New Zealand Herald

Some films released in New Zealand after being given M ratings by Australian censors are too violent and should probably have R16 ratings, says the chief censor, Bill Hastings.

He said his office did not consider films rated G (general release), PG (parental guidance recommended) or M (for mature audiences). These were released using their Australian classifications, he told Parliament's government administration committee.

It strikes me - we have not done a study on it - at the M level we are seeing more violence from Australia than we would allow at the New Zealand level - it's almost R16 level.

Any change to the way these films were rated would require a change to the legislation, he said.

List MP Dover Samuels said: Going through this classification process is really window dressing. The whole issue of censorship has become ineffective when you see the material that is now available.

Hastings agreed that tackling objectionable material on the internet was difficult, and said one of the office's primary roles was educating parents, schools and people responsible for renting videos, DVDs and computer games of their obligations to keep restricted material from young people: You can't be there at the end of every phone line, in every bedroom in the nation."

The office was trying to arm parents with the right information, making them aware that much of this material was damaging - getting them to realise when we give a game an R18 rating, it means exactly the same as when we make a film R18.

Samuels asked if banning something or rating it 18 simply made it more attractive to people who would make an extra effort to get hold of it.

Hastings said there was a small group who would always want the unobtainable, but the office had to balance that with the need to give the public information that would help people make informed choices.

He said a survey done by the office had shown that more than 90% of parents did find the classifications useful when choosing films and games for their children.

 

15th March   Update: Too Much Exposure...
 


Kadhal arangamKadhal Arangam banned in India

From The Hindu

Director Velu Prabhakaran is not apologetic about his film Kadhal Arangam having run into problems with the Indian Censor Board.

Rejecting criticism of too much of exposure by the heroine, Shirly Das, Prabhakaran says the story itself is about how society views a woman's body. I have approached the Central Board of Film Certification, which has refused a certificate for the film. Both the examining and the revising committee were apparently not able to see the true message of my film. I do not know why...

The message of the film is to spread sex education: My film conveys this in a unique manner.

 

6th March   More Malaysia Bans...
 


Malaysia film censor's logoSEAPA present catalogue of censorship

From Brandon Sun

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is concerned over a series of actions by Malaysian authorities against the broadcast and print media and cyberspace, which point to increasing intolerance for free expression and differing viewpoints.

The National Censorship Board recently banned the film I don't want to sleep alone by award-winning filmmaker Tsai Ming Liang. Among the reasons cited are that it portrayed the unsightly side of the capital city Kuala Lumpur and affected the government's ongoing tourism campaign.

Tsai, a Malaysian filmmaker based in Taiwan, was informed of the ban via a 31 January 20007 letter from the board. He is appealing the decision.

The board recently banned independent documentary Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (Village People Radio Show). In a 26 February appeal against the ban, filmmaker Amir Muhammad argued for a "limited viewing" rating for his film, since it has been ruled "inappropriate for general viewing", among others.

Elsewhere the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) banned Sensasi, a Malay-language entertainment talkshow aired by private broadcaster TV3.

Meanwhile, the ban on K. Arumugam's March 8, a Tamil-language book about the 2001 racial clashes in a slum area near the capital city, was only made known to the author through a 19 January news report which said the ban took effect in December 2006.

Arumugam's book is among the 56 publications banned by the Internal Security Ministry in 2006, which includes the Indonesian translation of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species by F. Susilohardo and Basuki Hernowo. (The full list of banned books is available here)

Arumugam filed an application on 24 February at the Kuala Lumpur High Court for a judicial review against the ban on his book which chronicles the 15 days of racial clashes in Kampung Medan that killed six people and injured more than 40.

Following a deputy minister's statement in December 2006 that Internet laws may be introduced to control bloggers and prevent them from spreading "disharmony, chaos, seditious material and lies", yet another threat against cyberspace was issued recently.


16th March   Update: Unbanned...
 


Malaysia film censor's logoMalaysian appeal reduces ban to cuts

From eCentral

In a change of heart, the National Film Censorship Board has approved Tsai Ming-liang’s film, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone for limited screening.

Producer Leonard Tee said he received a letter from the board's appeals committee. He said the film was passed for limited screenings in art house cinemas in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor. The committee also asked for five cuts to be made.

A source told The Star that the cuts included scenes showing the bare buttocks of lead actor Lee Kang-sheng and local actor Norman Atun washing his underwear. Other snips involved a kissing scene between Lee and actress Chen Shiang-chyi, Norman helping to clean a badly injured Lee who is clad only in his underwear and a radio broadcast reporting open burning in Putrajaya.

Tsai said he was happy that the ban had been reversed. However, he has not decided whether or not to accept the conditions: I think I’ll be making another appeal. And I hope the committee will invite me back so that we can sit down face-to-face and discuss things.

 

9th March  Valley of the Censorial Wolves...
 


Turkey flagTurkey cancel TV series

From Christian Science Monitor see full article

The most talked about television show in Turkey these days is one that's not even on the air.

The wildly popular Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of the Wolves), a series that chronicles life in Turkey's criminal underworld, was set to return for a triumphant second season in early February after a one-year hiatus. But, only one episode into its new run on the private Show TV network, the series was unceremoniously yanked off the airwaves, following a large number of complaints and pressure from the government body that oversees Turkish television.

Kurtlar Vadisi has been accused of glorifying violence and extreme nationalism. A spin-off movie, which saw the show's hero going to Iraq and doing battle with the US military, is Turkey's highest-grossing movie ever but was accused of being crassly anti-American and anti-Semitic. The new season was supposed to deal with the problem of Kurdish terrorism, but many feared that the show's take on this volatile topic would only fan sectarian tensions in Turkey.

The cancellation of the hit show is raising a debate in Turkey about whether limiting free speech in the name of curbing violence and nationalism is censorship or simply good government, and whether the show is a product of surging nationalism or a contributor to it.

Analysts say, though, that recent events, most notably the January murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink by an extreme nationalist 17-year-old, has made many realize that the nationalist fervor whipped up by Kurtlar Vadisi may be pushing Turkey in a dangerous direction.

[Canceling the series] was obviously censorship, but if an industry decides to produce dangerous junk, then society has the right to have some control over this, Irfan Erdogan, a professor of communications at Gazi University in Ankara, says.

 

5th March   Historic Censorship...
 

   
SARFT logoChina proscribes coverage of historical events

From AsiaNews.it

Chinese media authorities have marked out 20 forbidden areas in an attempt to promote a “harmonious” atmosphere for upcoming national and party conferences.

Restrictions have been placed on coverage of historical events including the anti-rightist campaign under Mao Ze Dong, the Cultural Revolution and more recent events such as the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, the media freedom debate, and legal and rights protection campaigns.

The curbs were outlined by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) on January 12.

Naturally, there were other banned areas like judicial corruption, activists' campaigns to protect individual rights, sexual crimes, and the aristocratic lifestyle of high-income groups.

Finally, important state-sponsored construction plans cannot be commented on and challenged with a western-oriented stance . . . and private ownership cannot be affirmed.

 

4th March   Age Sensitive...
 


MCMC logoMalaysian chat show banned after comment about age of Muhammed's wife

From The Star

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has banned entertainment programme Sensasi, which is aired live on TV3, with immediate effect following a controversial comment by a local artiste.

Rosnah Mat Aris was said to have uttered words that were deemed by some as an insult to Prophet Muhammad’s wife.

In its investigations, MCMC found that the programme's live show on Jan 30 had failed to abide by the approval conditions and that the television station had failed to control inappropriate content.

With this, TV3 has been asked to stop the live broadcast of the show with immediate effect, the commission said in a statement yesterday.

MCMC corporate communications head Adelina Iskandar said the entire Sensasi programme should have: contributed to the national aspiration and not offend the sensitivity or values of the community.

The statement did not clearly state if Rosnah’s comments had insulted Prophet Muhammad’s wife.

However, public reaction as reported by the media suggested that what she said should not have been connected to the Prophet’s family.

In a programme last month, Rosnah when answering a question, had linked a piece of gossip about her (Rosnah) with the age of Prophet Muhammad’s first wife, Siti Khadijah.

Her short statement had caused a huge controversy. Viewers had also sent in letters expressing their regret over her statement.

 

3rd March   Noble Communist Cause...
 


Malaysia film censor's logoVillage People Radio Show banned in Malaysia

From Brandon Sun

Malaysia's state censorship board has banned a documentary film about former Malaysian communists now living in southern Thailand, saying it was too sympathetic toward communism and critical of the government, the movie's director said.

Amir Muhammad, a prominent Malaysian filmmaker, said in a posting on his blog that he has until March 10 to appeal the board's decision to ban Village People Radio Show, which was shown at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this month.

Village People Radio Show is described as a portrait of village life in southern Thailand, where retired Muslim members of the Communist Party of Malaya now live.

The censorship board listed seven reasons for the ban, saying the movie was unsuitable for public viewing because it portrayed the communist struggle as a noble cause and criticized the Malaysian government for unfairly treating former communists, Amir said.

Apa Khabar Orang Kampung, which carries the English title Village People Radio Show was among the films confirmed for the 20th Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) which runs from April 18 to 30.

 

2nd March   Long Censorial Road...
 


Long Road to Heaven posterLong Road to Heaven banned in Bali

From the BBC

The Indonesian island of Bali has banned a film about the 2002 bombings that killed more than 200 people.

It is Indonesia's first film about the atrocity and received its premiere in the capital Jakarta last month.

An official from the provincial film board said Long Road to Heaven could reopen old wounds. I Gusti Ngurah Gde, head of Bali's film board, said: We fear people who do not understand it would trigger conflict and direct hatred at a certain group.

The movie looks at the tragedy from different points of view, including those of a Balinese taxi driver who lost a relative in the blast. Also portrayed are an American surfer searching for peace after the 9/11 attacks and Muslim militants who were blamed for the bombs.

 

1st March   Censor Brutality...
 


CBFC logoMiss Anara banned in India

From Business of Cinema

The Indian Central Board of Film Certification has refused to grant a censor certificate to Miss Anara, the film based on the real life MMS scandal in Jammu that rocked the country two years ago.

According to censor board officials, the film, that was slated for a 2 March 2007 release, portrays excessive violence by police officers. The film stars Anara Gupta (on whose life the film is based).

Producer-director K K Yadav affirms, There is nothing very violent in the film. Miss Anara is based on reality. I feel the censors have objected to the five lengthy scenes in the film where Anara and her mother are tortured. I am prepared to do the needful without disturbing the tempo of the film.

Update: Miss Anara Released

27th June 2007

The film's goal was to show how a confession was forced from me that I was on a pornographic CD," Gupta, who was Miss Jammu at the age of 15 in 2001

The film Miss Anara, made by minor Bollywood director Yogesh Bhardwaj, was released nationwide Friday -- but not in Gupta's home region Jammu, part of India's northermost Jammu and Kashmir state.

Activists from the Hindu Shiv Sena group, concerned about the effect of the film on Jammu girls, threatened cinema owners with arson if they screened it.


After three years of investigation and the examination of the CD in forensic laboratories, police are yet to confirm whether the woman in the film is Gupta.

I don't know why they are still doing the investigation, said Gupta: I think they are dragging out the case to protect their officers.

 

13th February   God Resigns in Egypt...
 

   
Egypt flagIn protest of widespread book banning

From Playfuls

Book censorship is spreading in Egypt now that numerous self-appointed authorities have received the absolute right to ban, sue or destroy a book for so-called religious and security reasons.

Islamic institutions like the Azhar and state-run bodies such as the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Education have the right to review books and withdraw them from the market.

Last week, a court banned foreign schools from teaching a book entitled History of the World, which according to the Cairo-based Egyptian Gazette, contained information considered blasphemous and humiliating to Islam.

Another book was recently confiscated by the arts division in the Interior Ministry for allegedly criticizing modern Islamic scholars and questioning their eligibility.

On the one hand, books focusing on religious and political matters are confiscated for broaching taboo subjects. On the other hand, religious books that arguably "entice hatred" are sometimes left on book shelves.

In the event of censorship, people calling for a ban have only to petition the office of the prosecution, and a case is almost immediately upheld against both the author and the publisher if the book is deemed "insulting to Islam" or to the ruling regime.

Nawal Saadawi, a well-known author and outspoken critic of the government, had five books banned by her own publishers less than two weeks ago. Saadawi's autobiography and another controversial play called God Resigns in the Summit Meeting were among the books removed from display.

Saadawi believes that the security police are behind the ban. Every single copy of God Resigns in the Summit Meeting was shredded by local publisher Madbouli, who did not even give Saadawi a copy of her own book, and kept the manuscript.


3rd March  Update: Sexless God...
 

   
Egypt flagEgyptian author under threat for offending islam

From Index on Censorship see full article

Al Azhar, one of the leading religious centres in the Muslim world, is threatening legal action against the celebrated Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi.

At a meeting this week, the Islamic Research Council agreed to present a petition against El Saadawi to the prosecutor general for her attacks on God, the prophets and the heavenly religions, according to the Egyptian newspaper Al Misry al Yom.

The head of Al Azhar, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi has condemned El Saadawi’s play God Resigns at the Summit Meeting for allegedly offending Islam. Five of El Saadawi’s books – including the play - were banned at the Cairo bookfair in January. All copies of the play have been destroyed.

Political groups want to threaten writers and freethinkers, El Saadawi told Index on Censorship. It’s a backlash. The whole of Egyptian society is going backwards.

Nawal El Saadawi told Index that she was summoned to the prosecutor general’s office in January, with her daughter, the writer Mona Helmi, following a case lodged against her in 2006 - also on the grounds that she had insulted Islam.

El Saadawi believes that religious groups were particularly incensed by interviews she had given to the Egyptian press, in which she said that God was a spirit and therefore neither male nor female.

In the wake of the accusations, El Saadawi has decided to leave the country for the next six months.

 

24th February   Superstar Censors...
 


Songapore flagPreventing excessive nudity in Singapore by book banning

From Playfuls

A book featuring images of Asian celebrities has been banned in Singapore because of "excessive nudity," a government minister said.

The book Superstars, by Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee, contains portraits of 300 stars such as Aaron Kwok and Gong Li.

Information, Communications and the Arts Minister Lee Boon Yang said the country's Public Consultative Panel agreed the book should not be allowed to be sold in the conservative city-state.

An explanation for the ban came up in Parliament where a lawmaker asked about the basis for censorship in artistic publications.

In a written reply published in The Straits Times, Lee said current guidelines do allow for nudity in artistic works including photography publications "provided they are suitably depicted."

Superstars featured excessive nudity with photographs showing full frontal nudity, with public hair and genitals clearly visible, Lee said, exceeding the current standards for publications.

 

23rd February   Wicked Censorship...
 


Maluajut posterAnd no doubt Pakistan's crime problems will be solved as a result

From The News

The Pakistan government has banned the portrayal of wicked characters as heroes in motion pictures and refused permission to release four new movies of this nature.

The central censor board has been ordered to decline permission to films that glorify villainous characters, Culture Minister Dr G G Jamali told the National Assembly.

He said that since Maula Jatt, made in the eighties, became a big hit and did a roaring business, a trend developed among moviemakers to go for such pictures.

Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain said many films were being made to depict people as supermen who were being shown using Kalashnikovs, repeaters, sten-guns and other weapons mercilessly. What kind of education are we imparting to our youth? he asked.

He said violence and bloodshed exhibited in such movies are brainwashing young men. You should try to discourage this trend.

Dr Jamal said the number of cinemas, which was 1,000 during seventies, has now come down to 210 because of the crisis that has hit the film industry. He said a committee of film people has recommended that there is a need for changes in the censor board. It has pointed out that the society also did not like vulgarity.

 

22nd February   No No Smoking...
 


Thank You For Not Smoking DVD coverAnti Smoking film banned by Thai censors

From The Nation

Anti-smoking activists yesterday demanded thatThai film censors explain why they banned the 2006 Golden Globe-nominated satire Thank You For Smoking.

The film tells the story of tobacco-industry lobbyist Nick Naylor who promotes smoking at a time when the health risks are too obvious to ignore.

What a shame, Action on Smoking and Health Thailand secretary-general Dr Prakit Vateesatokit said. He added that the film was a wonderful tool in the campaign against smoking: The movie depicts sophisticated tactics used by tobacco companies to achieve what they want. This could have had an even bigger impact on the pubic than campaigns I have been running for more than two decades.

Thailand Health Promotion Institute chief Dr Hatai Chitanondh believed censors rejected the film because the title included the word "smoking". The title is a play on the common request posted in public places and buildings: Thank you for not smoking.

I'm wondering if the censors even bothered to watch the movie before rejecting it, Hatai asked, adding he deeply regretted the film would not be seen for the same reasons given by Prakit.

However, it is now too late to reverse the decision because distributors have returned copies of the film to the United States, apparently reluctant for censors to lose face, Hatai asserted. He watched it twice and insisted smoking is not observed in the film: So, what's the matter? What harm can this movie do?

 

21st February   Censorship Drives Out Art...
 

   
Rome, Open City DVDMandatory censorship causes art-house releases to dry up in Ireland

From Irish Times

The range of films available to buy and rent at Irish outlets will be extended significantly when Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, introduces legislation providing revised censorship fees for minority-interest DVD releases. Art-house movies will be the principal beneficiaries of the new legislation, which is likely to be enacted this year.

Many foreign-language films have been passed over for release on the Irish market because their distributors regarded the certification fees as prohibitively high for movies with a limited audience.

The film censor, John Kelleher, has proposed a new two-tier scale for certification, and the Irish Film Censor's Office (Ifco) annual report for 2004 noted that it would be a positive development: Representations were made to Ifco during 2004 in this regard by both Irish and foreign video distributors requesting that a lower fee be charged for certifying non-mainstream video titles that might otherwise prove uneconomic to release. I believe this to be a reasonable request, and following further discussions with industry representatives, a proposal has been sent to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for the Minister's consideration.

The new two-tier scale will follow the Minister's introduction of a similar scheme for cinema releases in 2004, on the recommendation of the film censor. In the past, it cost as much to certify an art-house film as a mainstream one, Kelleher noted. Now, as a result of the new scale, the cost of an art-house film is one-quarter the cost of a mainstream one, and it is therefore financially feasible for distributors to release such films now.

Eoghan Burke, head of sales at Sony BMG, which represents a number of art-house DVD distributors in Ireland said:  In June 2004 a new cost structure for the certification of DVD/video was introduced and since then virtually all new art-house and niche titles available to buy in Irish retailers have dried up, bar the more commercially viable, forcing Irish buyers onto the internet to source their art house titles. There are now thousands of titles that have never been released for the Irish market.

Among the many art-house classics he cites as being passed over for the Irish market because of the cost of certification are Bicycle Thieves, Rififi, The Sorrow and the Pity and Rome Open City.

 

19th February   Hardcore in Ireland...
 

   
A question to the Irish censor regarding legality

It would surely be interesting to hear a little more about the High Court case mentioned.

Letter writerFrom Anthony who wrote to the Irish censor, John Kelleher

As you are no doubt aware there has been a considerable change in the content "allowed" on DVDs & videos classified R18 (Restricted 18) in the United Kingdom in recent years.

What (in your opinion or IFCO practice) is the legal status of these DVDs & videos in the Republic of Ireland?

Have there been any successful prosecutions of this material either through postal/customs or seizure by gardaí? [Note I mean in recent times]

Are there any plans to formally legalise this content as in the UK ?

The British category is not an "Anything Goes" category with 15.4% [2002] to 24.1% [2006] of submitted items being ultimately cut by the BBFC. These "cuts" removed in one case [Pirates] 1 hour 34 minutes so they're not token either.

I feel the ongoing "grey area" unresolved nature of this issue means the State has less not more control and influence of what is seen here.

Also there is a continuing debate internally at Ofcom over whether the current ban on R18s being shown on Sky Digital's "Adult" channels should continue. If this were to change it would make the current situation in the Republic of Ireland even more farcical.

Your thoughts on these issues would be appreciated.

IFCO logoJohn Kelleher replied

I am reluctant to comment on the matters you have raised as, inter alia, they are the subject of ongoing High Court proceedings to which my Office is a party.

I am sure you will appreciate my position in this regard.


19th February   Representing Parents...
 

   
A question to the Irish censor regarding representation

Letter writerFrom Anthony who wrote to the Irish censor, John Kelleher

I noticed that only one of the censors employed at IFCO (Mark Brennan), was what one could reasonably describe as a "young man" (albeit married with a child - not single). Given that surveys of public opinion have consistently shown "single young men" to be least in favour of censorship of films & videos, and that "older women" are most in favour; I would suggest the collective censors are unfairly unrepresentative of the public in their make-up and indeed the cinema going & video/dvd viewing public's general age.

The Irish Republic is still a very young (relative to our European counterparts) population - but you wouldn't guess that from the censors' make-up. I would like to see a man in his twenties, mid twenties, and early thirties added (replacing existing members) to the collective.

Finally regarding DVD releases - What real power does IFCO have to "reverse" UK BBFC decisions to cut a given title? Have any DVDs which have been cut in the UK been released in the Irish market uncut? Or is this something which is unfeasible / too much trouble for the distributors?

IFCO logoJohn Kelleher replied

Three out of our ten Assistant Censors are in their twenties. I am very satisfied that our team, the majority of whom are parents, includes a representative cross-section of people, both in terms of age and experience.

Our experience would not tally with the surveys of public opinion to which you refer, and I would be interested to know when, where and by whom they were carried out . We have commissioned a considerable body of independent research to assess public perception of our role and work, which has elicited favourable results from both adults and children.

As regards DVD releases, IFCO classifies what is submitted to us for release in Ireland. Our process, which is a statutory one, is not relevant to what happens in another jurisdiction.


23rd February   Is Hardcore Legal in Ireland?...
 

   
Seems little point asking the Irish film censor

Letter writerEdited letter from Anthony who wrote to the Irish Times

I was surfing the net and came across the Irish Film Censor's website. After reading it for a while I sent emails to John Keller as posted above.

I simply asked the Censor to put on record his and / or (by extension) the Irish State's official attitude to / policy on / legality of, R18 material.

Even with an ongoing case they surely have a position on this, and a general statement wouldn't prejudice / undermine their prosecution.

I would like the Irish Times to try and get the Censor (on record) to answer all the questions I put to him in my e-mail.

Hopefully he'll take your newspaper a bit more seriously than Joe Public.

Here in the Republic, our previous Censor Sheamus Smith amused himself by banning a selection of softcore standard 18 rated videos every month. He'd send a list of prohibited videos every month to all licensed video shops in the country - note these videos were merely standard 18 rated ones, containing no actual depictions of sex whatsoever and mild enough nudity too. The UK R18 videos (even the pre-change in guidelines ones) were completely beyond the pale.

Until the (Irish) Video Recordings Act of 1993, British BBFC ratings were in practice accepted as if they had legal status here. Video Shops like Xtravision referred to them in their sign-up terms & conditions, one wonders what would have happened if say, a 16 year old was prevented from renting a video marked by the British Censor as 18 by a shop over here and took the shop to court on the basis it had no legal right to do so. . . When the Irish act was being proposed Smith wanted to go back in time and "re-certify" all the existing videos in circulation in Ireland, as had been done in the UK in 1984-1986. However on cost grounds this didn't happen and instead only "new" videos ie. ones released after Sept 1993 were made subject to the Irish certification process. Videos being re-released on DVD has mostly taken care of this anomaly. It does show the ambition, some would say megalomania of Smith though in attempting to try to certify 20 to 30 thousand different videos !

The problem with having a separate Irish (DVD & Video) Rating System as opposed to the Cinema Certificates process is as follows. The mass production processes involved in making DVDs, and the fact that the Republic of Ireland and the UK share a single language, and TV picture system (PAL) and also that the licensing rights for the R.o.I. & UK are (usually) sold together as well - all of this means there is in commercial terms a British Isles market. DVDs are pressed (by companies located in the UK) according to the master approved by the BBFC not the Irish Censor. The Irish Censor can never "undo" in the Irish market cuts imposed in the UK. All he can do is stick a different age rating (either up or down - mostly anecdotally it seems to be upwards) on the box.

If a video is banned in the UK and the distributor has (perhaps not expecting a ban) already gone to manufacture, then he might release copies here after getting an Irish certificate. The only example of this I've been able to find is a film called "Mikey", directed by Dennis Dimster, made in 1992 and denied a BBFC cert in Dec. 1996. The Melonfarmers site states that it is "available on Irish video with the boast that it is banned in the UK".

With the physically cuttable nature of 35mm cinema film prints, cuts can be restored or indeed extra ones made changing what the BBFC did. With DVD the Irish censor can only ban - not cut or restore cuts! Surely the whole point of having a separate censorship system to the UK is to be able to have different outcomes in practice not just in legal theory. Perhaps the British-Irish Council (part of the Belfast / St. Andrews Agreement) which involves democratic representatives of all of the British Isles (which is the commercial reality when it comes to DVD) should take over the classification system. The Irish government would appoint so many censors, Scotland, the Isle of Man, etc. etc. would do likewise thus retaining democratic rights. I put some of these points to the censor in a separate e-mail, along with my concerns about the composition of the assistant censors. All of the e-mails and replies follow here.

 

13th February   Festival of Censorship...
 

   
SARFT logoLost in Beijing heavily censored for festival showing

From Variety

Producers and sales agents representing Chinese film Lost in Beijing are prepared to risk the wrath of the censors and will show the film in its uncut version at Berlin's European Film Market. A spokesman said: Films Distribution, in agreement with Li Yu and the producer Fang Li have decided that it will screen the integral, uncensored version on the market screenings regardless of the censors' decisions,

China's Film Bureau has already told the filmmakers that the film should not compete in the Berlinale's main competition, as it has not been approved by its censors. The censor objected to sex scenes and questioned certain moral values depicted and asked for 15 extensive cuts including a storyline about the relationship between a massage parlour boss and his employee and scenes showing dirty streets, prostitution, gambling, the Chinese flag and Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

As the market screenings are for buyers and not open to the public, the filmmakers could technically argue they have not contravened the Film Bureau's ban.

The film makers said it still hopes to reach agreement with the Film Bureau for a public screening of a version with different cuts before its Feb. 15 competition slot: But we still don't know which version will be discovered by the Berlinale audience.

The government requires that all Chinese-made films receive full approval before traveling to foreign festivals. Filmmakers who skirt the regulations risk penalties that include being banned from working.


16th February  Update: Festival Free of Censorship...
 

   
SARFT logoLost in Beijing to be shown uncut

From EUX.TV

An uncensored version of one of China's entries in this year's Berlin Film Festival is to be shown at the Berlinale without the cuts that had been demanded by the authorities, festival officials said Thursday.

A Berlinale spokeswoman said that, because of technical and logistic reasons, it was not possible to screen the altered version of Lost in Beijing from 34-year-old Chinese director Li Yu.

The festival spokeswoman went on to say that the Berlinale was not expecting any incidents at Friday's showing of Lost in Beijing, which was one of two films from China entered in the festival's main competition.

The censors in Beijing have been very sensitive to films portraying contemporary life or movies that in some way touch on politically charged issues such as Tiananmen Square where the Chinese authorities launched a major crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.

We cut all the scenes of Tiananmen Square, the national flag, and we also cut scenes of dirty streets, Lost in Beijing producer, Fang Li, said.

 

25th January  Controlling Dissent...
 

   
China flag
China bans 8 books about historical events

From Asia Media See full article

Chinese press authorities have banned eight books by renowned writers and intellectuals in a new move to control dissent and stifle discussion of sensitive historical events.

The General Administration of Press and Publications (Gapp) deputy director Wu Shulin told propaganda and publication officials at a meeting last week that the eight books were banned and vowed to impose severe punishment on their publishers.

All eight books are reflections by intellectuals on historical and social events of the past six decades, events that have traditionally been subject to tight censorship.

Another administration source said Gapp came up with the ban after the Central Propaganda Department included the books on its 2006 list of publications that overstepped the line.

Banned books:

  • Cang Sang by Xiao Jian tells the story of a man in northern Shaanxi from the 1911 Revolution to the Great Leap Forward.
  • I Object: The Road to Politics by a People's Congress Member by journalist Zhu Ling tells of the 12-year struggle of activist Yao Lifa to run for a seat in the local legislature.
  • Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars by Zhang Yihe is an account of the lives and deaths of seven Peking Opera artists.
  • The Family History of an Ordinary Chinese by Guo Ya describes the experiences of a normal Chinese family during the war of liberation, the Cultural Revolution and other eras
  • The Other Stories of History: My Days at the Supplement Division of the People's Daily by Yuan Ying is a memoir of time working for the People's Daily.
  • Era of History edited by Kuang Chen is a historic series on major events from the 1950s to the 1980s.
  • This is How it Goes@sars.com by Hu Fayun tells the story of a woman who fell in love with the internet at the cost of her relationship with a vice-mayor during the Sars outbreak.
  • The Press by Zhu Huaxiang uses fictional characters to tell of the intrigues and behind-the-news stories of China's media industry.

9th February  Update: Peking Censors...
 

   
China flagAuthor of banned book fights back against China censors

From Boston.com See full article

The Chinese author of a book about long-dead Peking Opera stars has become the latest challenger to the ruling Communist Party's censors, daring them to explain their secretive ways before the law.

Zhang Yihe's Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars and seven other books were yanked from Chinese stores this month on the orders of propaganda officials, according to Zhang and other authors.

She has now issued a denunciation of the ban and threatened to sue the publishing authorities. It was you who treated me as a thought criminal, who robbed me of my rights to expression and publication as a citizen, Zhang wrote in the letter to a senior publishing official, dated January 28 but made public by her on Friday: Banning my book should be done through open, just and independent judicial procedures. I will defend to the hilt my rights under the law.

Zhang's lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, told Reuters he was unsure how the author would seek redress and whether they would sue.

The ban on Zhang's book has not been entirely effective though. Pirated copies can be picked up on many streetside book stalls in Beijing.

 

 

8th February   Censorship by Fear...
 

   
I&B logoFilm not shown in India for fear of vandalism

From India eNews

Censor Board chief Sharmila Tagore has blamed police authorities after Parzania, a film about communal violence in Gujarat in 2002, could not be released in the state.

Tagore feels that that government had been too soft on those who threatened to disrupt the screenings of Parzania. The police have to provide security. They have to take responsibility. It is the responsibility of the police to enforce law and order, she said.

The multiplex owners in Gujarat have refused to screen Los Angeles-based Indian filmmaker Rahul Dholakia's film fearing vandalism from Hindu rightwing activists.

The veteran actress also spoke at length about other issues like the controversy over the release of Hollywood flick Da Vinci Code last year and the ban on smoking in films. Tagore said Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi's action over Da Vinci Code had made the Censor Board 'seem a little redundant'.

On Dasmunsi's decision to see Da Vinci Code before giving it a green signal, she said it was an 'avoidable lack of communication' and the minister did not even involve her in the screening he held for Christian groups or in the decision he reached. Calling Dasmunsi a 'super censor', she said he should realise: that there is an organisation like us under him that is doing the job and that is why we are there.

Tagore said she was worried about the precedent that Dasmunsi had set.

 

7th February  Controversy Put to Sleep...
 

   
Peacefull Pill Handbook, book cover
Euthanasia book may get more peaceful passage in New Zealand

From tvnz.co.nz

New Zealand's chief censor, Bill Hastings, says he would be happy to take a look at a controversial book due to be launched this week by Euthanasia advocate Phillip Nitscke.

Nitscke also known as Dr Death is planning a trip to New Zealand this week to showcase his book The Peaceful Pill.

Attempts are being made to have it banned in Australia.

Hastings says a book by the Hemlock Society called Final Exit was given an R18 restriction in this country in the 1990s.

He says his office has yet to receive a copy of the book, but anyone with concerns is free to ask to have it looked at.

 

7th February  Slaves to Censorship...
 

   
Nepal flag
Political changes allow restoration of cuts to Nepal film about slavery

From Malaysia Sun

Nepali film director Narayan Puri, who was the first in Nepal's film industry to dare make a film on the Maoist movement when the guerrillas were banned as terrorists and paid for the defiance by having censors hack his film ruthlessly, has been revived by the winds of change blowing in since then.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, whose name is being suggested for the Nobel peace prize for signing a peace accord with the Maoists and ending 10 years' of bloodshed, was also at the helm of the country in 2002 when Puri made his controversial film, Aago (Fire).

However, things were vastly different then. Though 'Aago' did not refer to the Maoists by their name, it was seen as glorifying the guerrillas.

The censor board first ordered Puri to cut out nine scenes and then, sat on the negatives for 11 months, preventing its release.

In 2005, when the Koirala government had given way to King Gyanendra's regime, formed through a bloodless coup, Aago continued to suffer at censors' hands. Along with nearly six other films, it was tacitly banned from Nepal's theatres.

However, after the fall of King Gyanendra's government in April, Puri is now re-making Aago, restoring the scenes deleted by the censors.

Aago
refers to the kamaiya system, the old tradition of bonded labour in Nepal that despite being abolished by the government on paper flourishes in the homes of ministers and civil servants: In winter, when Nepal celebrates the Maghe Samkranti festival, it is also the time for rich people to buy slaves from markets, just like they buy cows and goats. Such sales can be seen all over midwestern Nepal.

One of the deleted scenes in Aago shows revolutionaries going to the villages and trying to motivate people to oppose such customs. Another shows a teacher educating villagers so that they can understand how they are exploited and what their rights are.

The censor board never returned the deleted scenes to me, says Puri. When I asked to have them back, I was told they were lost. If the negatives had been intact, I could have simply added them to the film. But now, I have to shoot them again.

The shooting is nearly complete and the new Aago will be screened this month.

 

28th January  James Bond 001...
 

   
Casino RoyaleFirst Bond film to pass the Chinese censors

From The Telegraph

Tonight, the actor Daniel Craig will be the first Bond to walk up the red carpet in Beijing after Casino Royale was finally allowed past the censor and into Chinese cinemas. It is the first Bond film to pass the censor and be officially screened in China

Sony, the distributors, said that despite its theme – all gambling is banned in mainland China – it had been accepted without a cut. What we told them is, we are fighting a common enemy, terrorists, said Li Chow, Sony's China head: That was well accepted.

The last Bond film, Die Another Day, was never likely to be accepted, since it showed Bond enlisting the help of Chinese intelligence to take on rogue officers in China's communist ally, North Korea.

The fact that it is set in a post-Cold War period helped, the Communist Party's favourite way of defending itself against western critics is to accuse them of "Cold War thinking". Nevertheless, Dame Judi Dench, who plays "M", said that despite the company's claim of not having been asked for cuts, she had to re-dub one line. Where in Britain, she says: Christ, I miss the Cold War, in China, she says: God, I miss the old times.

 

28th January  Ham Fisted Censorship...
 

   
pig with policeman's helmet
Year of the pig to be less 'offensive' in China

From India eNews

China's ruling Communist Party has banned images and mention of pigs in television advertisements aired over the lunar new year to avoid offending the country's Muslims.

We were told by the CCTV (China Central Television) censorship team that the CCTV advertising department announced a new regulation on pigs in its internal document, an executive at the Shanghai-based Mindshare advertising agency told DPA.

The ban also applies to cartoons and traditional paper-cut images of pigs, and to slogans such as golden pig brings you fortune and wish you a happy pig year, the executive said.

The regulation only applies to advertisements. The Year of the Pig begins on February 18.

 

23rd January  Rated as Prudes...
 

   
Not Yet Rated DVD cover
Ontario disagrees with US film ratings

For comparison, This Film is Not Yet Rated received an 18 certificate in the UK.

From The Star

There may be a more hypocritical organization on the face of the planet than the Motion Picture Association of America. It's just hard to think of what it might be.

The MPAA claims it represents the cherished family values of American parents and their impressionable children. Yet it employs a movie ratings system that approves horrific scenes of violence while censoring acts of love.

The MPAA insists it is fair and reasonable. Yet it judges independent films more harshly than studio ones, and it views gay sex more sternly than straight sex.

The MPAA boasts of being open and accountable, yet it operates like a star chamber with secret censors and arbitrary rulings.

The MPAA says its ratings have no impact whatsoever on box office receipts. Yet it knows full well that its punitive NC-17 rating kills movies, because many American newspapers and broadcast outlets won't carry ads for these films and many exhibitors and retailers won't give them screen time or shelf space.

And Canadians aren't immune to its outrageous ratings, even though our provinces have their own film review boards. American movies cross the border pre-censored by the MPAA, since there is no financial incentive to edit a film just for the Canadian audience.

These facts were already known before last year's Sundance premiere of documentarian Kirby Dick's MPAA expose, This Film Is Not Yet Rated. It was a situation akin to what Mark Twain once said about the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Dick actually did do something and the result is a movie that is at once eye-opening and hilarious. He talked to the usual suspects, outraged filmmakers like John Waters, Kevin Smith and Canada's Atom Egoyan and Mary Harron, who have all felt the MPAA's lash.

According to MPAA logic, it's okay to show people getting shot, brutally killed or mutilated if you want a family friendly rating. But to show sex, even to talk about it in some circumstances, will get you hobbled with a rating of "NC-17" (no one 17 and under admitted). NC-17 is the most feared of ratings, since it amounts to a blacklisting.

Violence is fine; sex isn't. That's what America believes, says John Waters (Pink Flamingos), who succinctly describes the dubious MPAA mindset.

There's no question, however, that the film has already made an impact, although it took a year to do so. The MPAA announced this week it is making its operations more transparent, although Dick says the changes don't really amount to much. And the biggest problem of all remains: the NC-17 rating is completely unjust and unworkable, yet the MPAA refuses to delete or change it.

Most telling of all is the rating that This Film Is Not Yet Rated has finally received from the MPAA. You guessed it: NC-17, meted out because it contains "some graphic sexual content." Not to mention graphic mocking of the MPAA.

Here in Ontario, where our own censors rightly judge violence much more harshly than sex, the film gets a reasonable rating of 14A, meaning adult accompaniment for persons 14 and under. Ontarians know that many people have died from guns, but nobody was ever hurt by the sight of a bare breast.

 

19th January  AXN Axed...
 

   
I&B logoIndian cable channel AXN banned

From NDTV

The Information and Broadcast Ministry's decision to ban the cable channel, AXN, has raised questions as to whether the government has double standards on censorship and whether it should play censor.

The AXN ban resulted in sharp criticism for, Information & Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi who had to defend the decision: There is no big brother attitude. There are cable regulations that we follow. A show cause notice was given and due process was followed before taking it off.

AXN is high on the popularity charts, and is a leader when it comes to English entertainment with 50%of the market share.

AXN is the sixth channel in the country to be banned.

One wonders whether this is the prelude to the Broadcasting Bill, which it is believed will bring sweeping powers to the government.


21st January  Enough is Enough...
 

   
I&B logoIndian nanny censor under fire

From Gulf Times

Nudity, cigarettes, Paris Hilton and sexy adverts are just some of things the Indian government has tried to hide from its citizens in the last few months.

Critics say Indian sensibilities are made of sterner stuff, and warn against the country becoming a "nanny state".

Dasmunsi must be told he can’t go about treating us like impressionable children, the Indian Express editorial said yesterday, referring to the broadcasting minister who banned a channel for airing The World’s Sexiest Advertisements.

Last week, Dasmunsi ordered two local news channels to apologise for airing footage of a man dressed as freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi performing a pole dance, saying it was an assault to the dignity of the Father of the Nation.

In November, undercover police in Mumbai were assigned to scan the catwalks at fashion shows in an effort to prevent a repeat of last year’s episode in which a model’s top slipped to reveal her breasts.

Censors banned Paris Hilton’s music video Stars Are Blind from being shown on television in August, which shows the blond socialite cavorting on a beach in revealing clothes.

The government last year also tried to ban smoking scenes in films, reasoning that cigarette-wielding Bollywood stars were influencing people to take up the habit.

 

20th January  Departed from China...
 

   
The Departed DVD cover
China bans The Departed

From The Scotsman see full article

The China's movie censor will not approve The Departed for cinema release due to its mention of a Chinese plan to buy military equipment. The regulators just cannot understand why the movie wanted to involve China. They can talk about Iran or Iraq or whatever, but there's no reason to get China in said a source close to the film censor.

Martin Scorsese was named best film director at the Golden Globes on Monday for The Departed, a crime thriller.

Pirated versions can already be bought on DVD off the street in China.

 

11th January   Chasing Censorship...
 

   
Dhoom 2 still
Indian nutter asks for deletion of car chases

From moneycontrol

Maharashtra's State Transport Commissioner, Shyamsunder D Shinde feels that the movies with fast scenes and rash driving will have a bad influence on the youth has asked the Censor Board of India to delete them from films such as the Dhoom series.

On the occasion of Road Safety Week, the minister was quoted as saying that: Most young men try to imitate the stunts shown in these films. But this only leads to accidents because they are not capable of handling such powerful vehicles. That is why I have written a letter to the Censor Board asking for such scenes to be deleted from movies.

Filmmakers too are lamenting such policies and say that if they cannot smoke in films, shoot with trained animals or showcase stunts, then what is the point in cinema.

Censor Board officials, however, say that they have not yet received any notification for the same yet.

 

5th January  Apoplectic Apocalypto Nutters...
 

   
Apocalypto poster
Whinging at the Italian censor

Based on an article from nwitimes

The blood and gore in Mel Gibson's latest epic, Apocalypto, are suitable fare for children, Italy's cinema review board has ruled, prompting a nutter group to say it would appeal the decision in court.

The film is probably very beautiful and well done, Carlo Rienzi, president of the Codacons consumer group, said in a statement. However, minors must be protected more than the economic interests of film production companies. Rienzi said the group would seek court action to have children younger than 14 banned from seeing the movie.

Apocalypto depicts a Mayan kingdom during its decline and includes slayings and human sacrifices.

It opened in the United States last month with an "R" rating, which allows those younger than 18 to view it only if accompanied by an adult. Most European countries that have rated the movie set minimum age limits for viewers. Viewers in France must be at least 12, and in Hungary, Germany, Poland and Britain, they must be 18.

Adriana Medici, secretary for the Italian review board that rated Apocalypto, said the board, which usually is made up of parents, industry experts and a psychologist, decided on to allow people of any age to see it.

It's a work of art. It's a beautiful movie that tells the story without hiding anything. Wars are a part of life, said Gian Paolo Cugno, an Italian director who was among the board members who voted in favor of not giving the movie an age limit: We are used to being subjected to images like the hanging of Saddam Hussein in all the newspapers. I don't see what the scandal is just because we see a bit of blood.

Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli urged the film distributor in Italy, Eagle, to ask cinemas to discourage unaccompanied minors from going to see the movie.


5th January  Apoplectic Nutters Win...
 

   
Apocalypto poster
Apocalypto receives more restricted rating

From Variety

A national outcry in Italy over the release of Apocalypto with an unrestricted rating prompted a Rome court to rule Monday that Italian kids under 14 will not be admitted to see the Mayan blood-and-guts saga.

Consumers association Codacons had taken legal action last week after the Italian censorship board gave the Mel Gibson film the local equivalent of a G rating, sparking a storm of protest and calls from Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli for an overhaul of the country's quirky ratings system.

 

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