World Censors

2008: April-June

2005   2006   2007   2008  
Oct-Dec   Jan-March   April-June   July-Sept  

26th June   

Update: Nutter Campaign Lives On...

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Peaceful Pill Handbook can be sold at least until OFLC hearing
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Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

Pro-life groups trying to stop a euthanasia book from going on sale are vowing to fight on despite their latest efforts being rejected.

The Film and Literature Review Board declined last week requests by Right to Life and The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards for interim restriction orders on Australian euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke's Peaceful Pill Handbook.

The order would have stopped distribution to New Zealand shops till a review of chief censor Bill Hastings' decision to allow its sale was heard.

Both groups are seeking a review of the decision in which Mr Hastings allowed the sale of the book to over-18s. A hearing is set down for August 25.

David Lane, executive director of The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, said the group would apply for another restriction order.

Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr said he was disappointed by the decision. The group would present a submission to the August hearing asking that the book be deemed objectionable and be banned.

Dr Nitschke, founder of pro-euthanasia group Exit International, said copies would be available at a Christchurch conference on July 5 before being distributed to bookshops: We are thrilled the injunction has been turned down. It gives us till August to get the book distributed.


25th June   

Update: Nutter Hopes Put to Rest...

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Nutter appeal against Peaceful Pill Handbook rejected
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Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

Australian euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke has welcomed a decision by New Zealand authorities that will allow him to sell his controversial book in the country.

Nitschke said he was heartened by Friday's decision to reject an application from pro-life groups, who wanted to stop the distribution of the Peaceful Pill Handbook.

Earlier this month, the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, and Right to Life New Zealand sought a fresh order restricting its distribution.

The decision by the OFLC had demonstrated the open attitude of New Zealand to the important question of censorship," Nitschke said in a statement today: New Zealand's approach to censorship stands in stark distinction to the approach taken by the government in Australia, where the book remains a banned publication.


14th June   

Credibility Suicide...

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Australian psychologists whinge at MA rating for The Happening
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Full story: The Happening...Suicide sensitivities over the film The Happening

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has expressed grave concerns over the classification MA given to the soon to be released movie, The Happening.

APS President, Amanda Gordon, said:

This movie, with its graphic and repeated depictions of violent suicides should receive an R classification instead of the MA rating. We call on the Classification Board to urgently review this rating.

Not only does this movie romanticise and sensationalise suicide, but it depicts many different methods of achieving that end. There is good evidence that the reporting of suicides can lead to copycat behavior, and there are many instances of increased suicide rates following media portrayals of suicide. The more detailed the descriptions or portrayals of the suicide, the greater the risk that vulnerable people, including young people or people with mental health problems, may harm themselves.

Psychologists have grave concerns that we will see a real increase in both suicide attempts and successful suicides, as a result of people viewing this movie. The most vulnerable, including young people, will be protected by a higher rating by the Classification Board

We have media guidelines for the reporting of suicide, and classification systems for films for very good reasons. What better reason is there than the protection of vulnerable people in our society?

In the UK, the BBFC passed the film 15 with the following explanation:

THE HAPPENING is a thriller about a couple and a young girl trying to escape a mysterious toxin causing people to commit suicide and murder. The work was passed '15' for frequent images of suicide and moderate bloody injury.

Besides references to terrorism, and a sustained menace from an unseen and uncontrollable threat, the film also features a series of suicides by different methods, including a policeman shooting himself with sight of blood trickling from a bullet wound in his head, sight of another man lying in a pool of blood having shot himself off-screen, a jump moment where several bodies are seen hanging from trees, a scene where a man slits his wrist at a small distance and another scene where two young teenage boys are shot. In each case sight of blood and injury is fairly brief. However the treatment of the suicide theme and the frequency and nature of the injury detail went beyond the bounds of a '12A', but met the BBFC's '15' Guidelines which allow 'strong threat and menace', and state that 'no theme is prohibited, provided that treatment is appropriate for 15 year olds', 'violence may be strong but not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury' and 'dangerous techniques (e.g. combat, hanging, suicide, and self-harming) should not dwell on imitable detail'.

The work also contains moderate language including uses of 'bitch'.


9th June   

Update: Delaying the Inevitable...

Nutter appeal has stalled publication
Link Here
Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

A euthanasia campaigner's book outlining ways in which people can kill themselves could be banned for a second time if an appeal from pro-life advocates is upheld.

The appeal by Right to Life New Zealand has stalled distribution of Philip Nitschke's The Peaceful Pill Handbook to bookshops, expected this month.

Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr said the group had been granted permission by the secretary of Internal Affairs to make a submission to the Film and Literature Review Board after chief censor Bill Hastings approved the book for sale last month.

It was given an R18 classification and must be sold sealed.

Orr said the board had been asked to issue an interim restriction order so the book could not be sold till the submission had been heard: We're quietly confident that the board will agree with our submission and classify it as objectionable and have it banned.

The book would now not go on sale till after a conference called Voluntary Euthanasia Matters run by Exit International in Christchurch on July 5.


6th June   

Update: Waiting for Ages...

Thailand film classification delayed
Link Here

The long wait for Thailand's first film rating system will continue for at least another few months.

The ministerial regulations on audience age restrictions have not yet been finalised. The rating system had been due to start in June, as stipulated in the Film Act passed by the National Legislative Assembly in December.

The sub-committee has finished drafting the regulations, but we will have to submit it to the cabinet before they become effective, said Somchai Seanglai, the deputy permanent secretary for culture.

Under the Film Act, the Culture Ministry will replace the police as the body that oversees theatre screening of movies.

The law specifies six ratings: G (fit for all age groups); 13-plus; 15-plus; 18-plus; 20-plus; and a special "P" rating for films that deserve to be promoted to all audiences. The authority will retain power to cut or ban films.

The rating committee will comprise government officials, academics and film industry representatives.


2nd June   

S** and the City...

Censoring Sex and the City movie in UAE
Link Here

The Film censors say the big-screen version of the hit television series Sex and the City may be too risqué to be shown in cinemas in the UAE.

Censors and cinema industry commentators warn the film may be banned, cut or the title changed, to ensure it did not offend the country’s moral code.

Although distributors said prints had not yet arrived in the country, Tariq al Attar, the head of the screening committee at the Dubai censorship department, said the film might not be approved because of explicit content and it was likely that it would not be shown.

Even if this passes the censors the title would definitely have to change, said one industry source: They may call it S** and the City or just change it altogether.

Roy Chacra, from the company Shooting Stars, which has a joint agreement with Gulf Films to distribute the film, said he did not know what all the fuss was about. It hasn’t even gone to the censors yet. The title may be a problem but it can always be changed. We will abide by the decision of the censors, whatever it is.

Two or three people from the National Media Council, which is responsible for censorship, typically view films before deciding on a rating – general or family – and whether it needs to be cut. If a film is banned, there is no right of appeal.

On the Other Hand

See full article from 7 Days

A decision regarding the release of the film Sex and the City will be taken after censors have seen the movie, an official from the censorship department told 7DAYS. The official added that the department was hopeful of giving the film the go-head, after a few cuts. Juma Alim, Director of Dubai Censorship department also said that he doesn’t see any problem with the title of the film.


29th May   

Sing a Song of Litigation...

Indian censor's sensitivity to religious litigation
Link Here

Aarti Chhabria didn't know what hit her when her hit song Hari Om Hari Om which has been on the air for one month now turned into Jale Mome Jale Mome when the film Dhoom Dadakka released on Friday.

Not only that, huge chunks of the song had to be dropped because they apparently would've offended religious sensibilities.

So many songs suggesting so many things are freely being played on radio. My number's promo has been playing for a month. What sense does it make to censor it when everybody has already heard it? says the livid producer-director, Shashi Ranjan.

A few members of the censor board objected to my song. They feared Public Interest Litigations (PIL) against the words and the visuals. I had no choice but to change the words. What I want to ask is, what is the validity of the censor board if they're so scared of people going to the court? Let us filmmakers directly fight the PILs straight in the courts instead of going through the censor board, sighs Ranjan.

I've constantly fought to discipline vulgar songs. But my song in Dhoom Dadakka is by no means vulgar. And then to subject me to this. Eight days before release I was told to make the deletions and changes. It was a nightmare.


27th May   

Censors Send the Boys Round...

Singapore authorities not impressed by critical film
Link Here

The Singapore authorities attempted to stop a private screening of a critical film on Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on 17 May 2008, alleging that the screening violated the Films Act, according to news reports.

Section 21(1)(b) of the Films Act forbids the screening of a film that has not been vetted by the censors, punishing violators with a maximum fine of S$40,000 (approx. US$29,428), or jail term of up to six months, or both.

Three officers from the Media Development Authority (MDA), claiming they were acting on a "tip-off", went to the hotel where the film, One nation under Lee , was being premiered and requested for the disc, alleging that it has not been vetted by the censors.

The night before the screening, the Board of Film Censors had warned the organisers of the offence they would be committing under the law if they had not submitted the film for approval.

The 45-minute film is produced and directed by artist/activist Seelan Palay. It documents former premier Lee's rise to power through a host of restrictive measures on civil liberties, criticises the economic and political governance of the ruling party and pays tribute to the efforts of activists and citizens who persist in claiming and exercising their democratic rights.

The MDA officials later brought in plainclothes officers in an attempt to hold the organisers supposedly for obstruction of justice. They left, however, when Chee agreed to hand over the film as the screening had fortunately ended by then.


23rd May   

Update: Only Australia Left with Children's Version...

New Zealand gets an uncut version of Grand Theft Auto IV
Link Here
Full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game

When it was announced that New Zealand would receive the same edited version of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto IV that was destined for the Australian market, there was anger in the local gaming community.

There has never been an official announcement by publisher Take-Two Interactive about the reasons behind this, but logic suggests it was because it would be easier to supply the Australiasian region with a single version of the game.

New Zealand, which does have an R18 rating, received a version of the game which was watered down to please the censors in neighbouring Australia, where the highest possible rating for a game is MA15+.

One man who was not happy with situation was Stan Calif, founder and director of First Games. Stan was not only annoyed that New Zealand would be receiving an edited version of the game courtesy of Take-Two - he also thought it was more than a bit cheeky that New Zealanders would be paying “full price” for a cut-down game. He was determined to give Kiwis the right to buy the uncut version locally.

Stan filed a submission to the OFLC in the week after the release of GTA IV. Stan'
s efforts and perserverance were rewarded, when the OFLC gave the uncut version of GTA IV a classification of R18, paving the way for First Games to sell the game legally in New Zealand.

First Games are proud to be able to deliver GTA IV uncut to New Zealanders, says Stan. The uncut GTA IV is now available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from for the price of $99.50 and carries a NZ classification of R18 (contains violence, offensive language, and sex scenes).


22nd May   

Indian Censor Cuts...

But relief that a film does not provoke religious sentiments
Link Here

The Indian film Dasavatharam is nearing its release date and has recently been cut by the censor. The panel members, after watching the movie, have advised 9 cuts and passed the movie with U certification. Censor scissors seem to have sheared a few scenes from the Mallika Sherawat item number. Mallika has never been in the good books of Censor Officials.

That apart, a few other scenes also succumbed to scissor hands. However, according to a censor board official, the movie does not have any controversial scenes that might provoke the religious sentiments. There are no scenes that show the idols of Hindu Gods in poor light and no idols are shown being smashed, another official was quoted as saying.


21st May   

New Broom Sweeps Clean...

Film Producer in prison in Kano State, Nigeria
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

A film producer in northern Nigeria has been charged with breaking ludicrously restrictive new Islamic censorship laws.

Hamisu Lamido, known in the Nigerian film world as Iyan Tama, faces a jail term for releasing his film without allowing it to be censored.

Lamido says he did not release the film in Kano and denies he has broken any law or censorship regulation.

Lamido was arrested last Friday and was remanded in custody until his court appearance. His film Tsinstiya  (The Broom) , is a Hausa language version of West Side Story , funded by the US embassy in Nigeria.

Co-star of Tsintsiya, Baballe Hayatu said: This is a political thing. It seems the censors have a personal grievance against Iyan Tama. In Kano the film industry is really suffering.


20th May   

Censor Priest...

Cayman Islands reorganise their film censors
Link Here

The organisation that has censorship powers over films shown in the Cayman Islands will be changed from an authority dominated by politicians to a board that consists solely of political appointees.

Right now, the Cinematograph Authority consists of five members including; the governor, three elected members of the Legislative Assembly and an appointee of the Governor.

Under the change, all five members of the newly formed Cinematograph Board would be appointed by Cayman Islands Cabinet members. At least one of the five Cinematograph Board members would have to be a minister of religion, according to the proposal.

The amendment would also give the board even more leeway than it now has to rule on what films can be shown on island. According to amendment section three, part four: The board may adopt whatever procedure it considers appropriate in determining any matter before it.

The Cinematographic Authority was dormant for a number of years after successive governments failed to nominate active members going back to 2002. The authority was reformed in December 2007 following a controversy surrounding the film The Golden Compass .

The law that established the authority allows theatres that exhibit blasphemous, seditious or obscene material to be fined, and also provides for jail terms of up to six months for those responsible for the public viewing of such material.


14th May   

Update: Lust, Caution, Blacklisting...

Ongoing Chinese fallout for all concerned, even the censors
Link Here
Full story: Lust Caution...Ang Lee's Lust, Caution gets worldwide attention

Two months after being banned in China as lewd and unpatriotic following her critically acclaimed role in Lust, Caution , Tang Wei has yet to work again.

Activists and people in the film industry are now beginning to take up her cause on commercial, artistic and legal grounds.

Lust, Caution was made chiefly in Shanghai by Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, and applauded by many Asian critics as a masterpiece. But China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) insisted that seven minutes - essentially, a sex scene with Tang and the male lead, played by Hong Kong actor Tony Leung - be removed.

The film has nevertheless been a massive hit since its theatre release in China. Thousands of mainland Chinese travelled to Hong Kong to watch the uncut version, helping make it the most popular Chinese language film of the past year.

But during the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, a veteran Communist Party cadre viewed the film on DVD and was disgusted by what he saw as its glorification of traitors and insult to patriot" , the phrase he is said to have used when complaining to SARFT. He was angry that SARFT allowed the film to be shown at all, even with the requested cuts. He was disgusted that Tang's character, a member of a resistance group during the Japanese occupation, warns and ultimately saves a Japanese collaborator from execution.

As a result, several SARFT staff lost their jobs. And after the rap over its knuckles, SARFT hastened to issue a statement reasserting censorship guidelines , warning all film and broadcasting bodies that it was renewing its ban on products that show promiscuous acts, rape, prostitution, sexual intercourse, sexual perversity, masturbation and male-female sexual organs and other private parts . SARFT reassured the powerful official by issuing an internal instruction to China's television stations and print media - which are all ultimately owned by the Government or Communist Party - to drop Tang's advertisements for a cosmetics company.

Tang'sHong Kong-based agent tells The Australian that she is not answering questions about the issue. She appears to be hoping the storm will blow over.

But Zhao Guo-jun, director of China Law Watch Centre, a legal affairs non-government organisation based in Beijing, says: We are pursuing this case because it highlights what we see as a cultural blockade, which restricts artistic creativity and breaches workers' rights.

It is a characteristic case, he says, because there is no legal, public document, no formal procedure or hearing. That leaves the victim with no chance to make a formal complaint, or get legal help.

Update: Unsuitable

19th May 2011. See  article from

Scenes involving Tang Wei hit the cutting room floor after objections that explicit nude sex scenes in the 2007 Ang Lee spy thriller Lust, Caution had rendered her unsuitable for such a sensitive role, according to leaks sourced to the film's crew.

The casting of Miss Tang as Tao Yi , the young revolutionary who Mao fell in love with in the late 1910s, was seen as a signal of her political rehabilitation when it was announced earlier this year.

The role effectively ended a three-year year exile for the Hong Kong-based actress who was banned by state censors from the China's TV screens and billboards in March 2008 in order to guard public morals after clips of the sex scenes emerged on the internet.

However China's film gossip bulletin boards have been buzzing all week to the news that Miss Tang, 32, had been cut from The Founding of a Party after renewed political objections from Red families that guard the legacy of the former Communist leader.


12th May   

Update: Peaceful Pill Boycott...

New Zealand nutters appeal for ban on suicide handbook
Link Here
Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

The nutters of the Society for Promotion of Community Standards has written to New Zealand's Film and Literature Board of Review, seeking a review of the approval of the book for R18 release.

The society's executive director David Lane says the material breeds a culture of death in New Zealand and is not just a matter for the chief censor to deal with legally.

Lane says the society is seeking an assurance that those who deal with depressive and suicidal people have been consulted over the release of the book.

He says there will be calls for bookshops to be publicly shunned, should they stock the title.

Update: Right to a Holier than Thou Life

23rd May 2008

Pro-life organisation, Right to Life, says it is incongruous that on one hand we have this dangerous book being allowed for sale in New Zealand and on the other hand we have the Government earlier this year unveiling its five-year plan that includes expensive TV advertising to reduce New Zealand's suicide rate.

Right to Life's Ken Orr questioned why the Government was not prepared to challenge the chief censor's controversial and dangerous classification . His society will seek a review of the misguided classification.


11th May   

Update: Less Peaceful...

New Zealand censor blacks out pages from suicide handbook
Link Here
Full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

A euthanasia book containing graphic descriptions of ways people can kill themselves is set to go on sale in New Zealand within weeks after a ban was lifted on Friday.

Australian euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke had resubmitted The Peaceful Pill Handbook to the Office of Film and Literature Classification with sections blacked out after it was banned last July.

Chief censor Bill Hastings told the Sunday Star-Times that the revised book could be sold to people over 18, but it had still been classed as objectionable. It must be sealed and have an R18 label on its cover before it can be sold in bookshops.

Nitschke, head of Exit International and the 214-page book's co-author, lauded the decision and hoped it would prompt a rethink by Australian authorities which banned it last year.

The decision is sure to be controversial. Pro-life group Right To Life claimed in its submission to Hastings that the revised book's contents were an incitement to suicide. The group was worried the book would fall into the hands of young people and those who were depressed or suffering serious mental illnesses.

When Hastings first banned the book, his decision highlighted parts needing to be deleted because it told readers how to break the law. It included advice on how to avoid detection if assisting a person to commit suicide and on importing Nembutal, the common name for pentobarbital, a drug used by vets to euthanase pets. It is illegal to import and possess the class C drug in New Zealand without medical approval, but has become popular in euthanasia circles as a "peaceful pill" to end someone's life.

The revised edition contains about 15 partially or completely blacked out pages but still contains graphic details about how to commit suicide, including how to travel to Mexico to buy Nembutal, which some New Zealanders have done.

It canvasses suicide methods, including how to make lethal concoctions. It contains various diagrams and photographs, including a table comparing eight suicide methods, rating them from 1-10 depending on certain factors, such as reliability and peacefulness.

Hastings said it was a well-intentioned book that advocates law reform and gives advice to enable the seriously ill and elderly to make carefully considered and fully-informed decisions about their own life and death.

As repugnant as some members of the public may find the open discussion of voluntary euthanasia, suicide methods and the law, the New Zealand Bill of Rights preserves the author's right to freedom of expression and to impart the information and opinions contained in the book in its present revised form, his decision said.

However, it noted the book's clinical accounts of meticulously planned suicides by various methods could make self-inflicted death appear acceptable, even desirable, and its rating of suicide methods could encourage readers to believe death could be achieved without undue suffering to themselves, the prospect of which may previously have acted as a deterrent.


7th May   

Update: Blown Away by Californication...

New Zealand Broadcasting Standards whinges about bad taste
Link Here
Full story: Californication...US TV show picks up whinges around the world

A complaint that an episode of Californication on New Zealand's TV3 involving a threesome sex scene breached standards of good taste and decency has been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

A man complained after he said he had stumbled on the episode while trying to find something for his family to watch: What met our eyes were two men and one woman on a bed, and the most graphic act of oral sex that left nothing to the imagination.

Another man also complained saying this pornographic segment ... although not showing any explicit genitalia is totally unacceptable for free viewing regardless of the screening time.

The scene screened at 10.04pm a during school holidays.

The complaints were under three sections of the Broadcasting Act - good taste and decency, programme information and children's interests.

TVWorks (TV3) replied that the scene was simulated, did not shown any explicit nudity and was not intended to be titillating.

Three members of the authority found the scene as close to pornographic as possible without showing genitalia. But one member of the authority said he could not uphold the complaints that the scene breached good taste and decency, because it was an integral part of the overall plot of the series. Because the decision was not unanimous, the authority declined to make any order over the breach.

The authority declined the complaints over programme information and the broadcaster not considering the interests of children. It said the sex scene screened after 10pm and TV3 gave sufficient warning that the programme contained sexual material and language and was not suitable for children.


7th May   

Offsite: Low Morale Amongst Morality Police...

Infighting on the Philippines film censor board
Link Here

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board is a small but sensitive state agency that in recent years was caught in the maelstrom of controversy for banning a seemingly harmless documentary of a fallen president and for the highly irregular tampering of the classification of a science fiction film.

For several months now, the board has been under a state of unrest for another reason—an irreconcilable feud between its chairman, Ma. Consoliza Laguardia, and the agency'
s rank-and-file employees. The conflict stemmed from the employees'
 disenchantment with, and loss of confidence in Laguardia due to alleged incompetence and abuse of power, resulting in a string of purported anomalies.

The rift broke into the open when the employees union wrote a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on July 9, asking her to replace Laguardia to put an end to the alleged misgovernance and to the restiveness and demoralization among their ranks.

...Read article


6th May   

Cuts and Bans...

Indian film censors, their guidelines and statistics
Link Here

The Indian film censors have been reporting about activity in 2007

The Central Board of Film Certification certifies films as per the provisions of Cinematograph Act, 1952. There is an 'A' certificate for adults only, a 'U' certificate suitable for all and a 'UA' certificate in between

The guidelines stipulate the following:

  • Anti-social activities such as violence are not glorified and justified.
  • Pointless or avoidable scenes of violence, cruelty and horror, scenes of violence primarily intended to provide entertainment and such scenes as may have the effect of desensitizing or dehumanizing people are not shown.
  • Human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity, or depravity
  • Words with dual meaning as obviously cater to baser instincts are not allowed
  • Scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented
  • Scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme, they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown.
  2005 2006 2007
Submitted 7417 10551  
Banned 18 59 11
Cut 473 453 395


5th May   

Update: Carry On Censor...

Court case to abolish Indonesian film censors fails
Link Here
Full story: Film Censors Taken to Court...Indonesian film censors taken to court

The Indonesian constitutional court turned down a request to abolish the country's censorship body, sparking wild celebrations from hardline Muslims in the public gallery.

But filmmakers who were seeking the abolition of the censorship panel also claimed victory after the court ruled that a new assessment system is "needed urgently" to unlock the country's cinematic creativity.

Constitutional judge Jimly Asshidiqqie ruled that the current film law is not in line with modern times and there is an urgent need to form a new film law and new film assessment system that is more democratic.

The court decided that the Film Censorship Board, which often cuts violence and sexuality from movies and public television shows, could not be abolished until the new assessment system is in place.

A group of around 40 hardline Muslims who packed the public gallery cried "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and cheered the ruling as a victory for what they see as Islamic values.

Then they carried Anwar Fuady, the head of the television cinema association who stands firmly against abolishing the review panel, around the courthouse in triumph. Fuady praised the ruling and said the censorship board was needed as a filter otherwise the country will be a nation of free sex.

However one of the plaintiffs, filmmaker Rivai Riza, told AFP the ruling gave Indonesia's film industry hope: The decision was clear that our request was rejected but we are happy that there is at least a rational dissenting opinion. This means that the democratic process worked and there is hope .

A dissenting opinion by Judge Laica Marzuki said that censorship can be seen as violating the constitution... that guarantees the right to communicate and acquire information.


2nd May   

Political Junk...

Indian film industry tires of health minister's dictates
Link Here

Taking a dig at health minister Anbumani Ramadoss who favours a ban on smoking and drinking in films and who has criticised filmstars for endorsing junk food, censor board chief Sharmila Tagore retorted: First it was about smoking, then the minister spoke about chips and now alcohol. I think what is primarily important is that he should focus on real issues like fake medicines.

The minister had criticised superstar Shahrukh Khan for ‘promoting smoking and drinking'
 on screen by playing characters like Devdas and, more recently, his performance as a drunken junior artist in the box-office hit Om Shanti Om .

The minister had regretted that the actors, by smoking or drinking on screen, were conveying a wrong message to the country'
s young and old who watched their films.

However, what may have really put off Ms Tagore was his jab at her son, film actor Saif Ali Khan, for endorsing Lays chips, during the course of which he even cited Khan'
s recent heart problem.


30th April   

Update: Police Censors...

Thailand passed film classification law
Link Here

Thailand's new Film Act will go into effect on June 4. And though nothing ever goes as planned when it comes to the Culture Ministry, moviegoers should brace for the historic introduction of the rating system, which is likely to be accompanied by confusion and clamour.

The Film Act was actually passed last December, but the Ministry Regulations, the practical rules that will implement various provisions of the law, are being written by the scribes at the ministry.

When the new law is applied in June, each movie, Thai and foreign, will be assigned one of six ratings:

  • G (fit for all age groups)
  • 13-plus
  • 15-plus
  • 18-plus
  • 20-plus
  • ''P'' an unusual label designed for films that deserve to be promoted to the society because of its content. For instance, a historical Thai movie that everyone including young children should be encouraged to see it because of its historical and patriotic values.

What's not clear right now is how the ratings and filtering will be enforced. As it is understood, theatre staff at the box office will check the IDs of customers before letting them buy tickets. But since nobody has seen the Ministry Regulations, it's not certain whether the age classifications are simply a guideline for parents and multiplexes, or are actual legal restrictions with punishment clauses.

It's rumoured that the ID check will be carried out only with the 18- and 20-plus movies. But if, say, a 19-year-old wants to see Rambo 4 with his father, will he be allowed to go in? And if not, why? Because when he goes to an election booth, a process more detrimental to his mental health, he doesn't have to bring his dad in there with him to tell him which box to tick or which politician is a thief.

I feel itchy about the 20-plus rating, itchier and sadder still that the new Film Act still has the cutting and banning provisions. Hardly any country in the world restricts access to cinema for its 20-year-old people, except, well, Singapore. What's very funny in the Thai law is that the 20-plus rating will not be applied to those who have reached their legal age of consent by marriage. So if you're a 17-year-old girl who's already married, you can breeze into the theatre to see a 20-plus film, supposedly because since you've already had sex, nothing else can shock you. Just remember to carry your wedding certificate as proof.


24th April   

Update: Discriminatory Themes...

Singapore gays unimpressed by being lumped in with criminals
Link Here
Full story: Games Censorship in Singapore...Singapore introduces game censorship

As reported recently, Singapore has adopted a rating system for video games.

While the move seems like a step in the right direction, not everyone is pleased with how the new ratings are to be assigned. People Like Us , which describes itself as a Singapore gay and lesbian group focused on advocacy and public education notes that that the government's Media Development Authority (MDA) lumps homosexuality with crime in an “Adult Theme” rating category:

People Like Us considers this new rule unjustifiably strict. Children should not have to be kept ignorant about the presence of gay people in society any more than they should be shielded from people of other faiths and ethnicities. The path to acceptance of gay people is through teaching children about diversity from a young age.

It is pejorative to lump gay sexual orientation with crime and drug use as the MDA's new guidelines do, as if gay orientation is some kind of social threat.


18th April   

UAE Bans War...

UAE state issues fatwa against God of War
Link Here

Sharjah municipality in the UAE has launched a crackdown against the distribution of an old video game which has been banned.

Several residents complained about the game as it contains material offensive to religion, values and social norms.

The 18-rated video game God of War is based on Greek mythology that encourages players to kill different "gods" to reach the next level of the game. It contained sexual scenes.

A UAE national said: I knew that it was banned, but many of my friends were able to buy pirated copies from Dh5 to Dh10. I was shocked to see how much it contradicted Islamic values, said Khalid Bin Deemas, adding that it was dangerous as the video game was popular among children.

The permanent fatwa committee has instructed all concerned government departments to forbid the sale of such games and to confiscate them.

A Sharjah Municipality official confirmed that they continue to confiscate all video games that contain language and scenes that offend the religion, values and traditions of the country, including God of War. The games were confiscated during recent inspections.


17th April   

Update: Hastings Plays an Open Game...

Lack of Australian adult rating pushes adult games into 15 category
Link Here
Full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game

Gameplanet put a few questions to Bill Hastings, New Zealand's Chief Censor about the censored version of Grand Theft Auto IV submitted by the distributor

GP : If they submitted the edited Australian version, why was it rated R18 here instead of a rating more in line with Australia?

Bill Hastings : The game was classified R18 in New Zealand because the version we examined was sufficiently violent to warrant an R18 classification. We noted little, if any, difference between GTA IV and any of the other games in the series.

You should also consider that Rockstar says it edited the game to comply with Australian law, not New Zealand law. In the past, US/EU versions of the Grand Theft Auto series have complied with New Zealand law without the editing required to comply with Australian law. This is because, unlike Australia, New Zealand has always had R16 and R18 classifications available for games.

I leave it to you to surmise what pressure there must be on the Australian MA15+ classification to absorb games that would otherwise have to be banned in Australia because they have no R classifications.

GP : If our readers import the unedited version from, for example, the UK, what is the likely penalty if they get caught?

Bill Hastings : Unless the game a person imports is objectionable (as is the case, for example, with Manhunt 2), there is no penalty for importing a game for your own use. A foreign classification is no guarantee that a game is not objectionable under New Zealand law. In the case of GTA IV however, I note that the British Board of Film Classification has given it an 18 certificate, so I rather doubt that either version is objectionable.


16th April   

Kissed by Repression...

Singapore censor fines cable company for lesbian kiss
Link Here

Singapore's censor, the Media Development Authority (MDA) has fined StarHub Cable Vision $10,000 for airing a commercial that depicted lesbian kissing scenes.

The MDA posted a statement on its website about the cable operator's breach of TV advertising guidelines, which disallows advertisements that condone homosexuality.

The commercial, which aired over two days in November on MTV's Mandarin-language channel, was to promote a song by pop singer Olivia Yan.

Her music video from the album Silly Child featured two scenes of herself and Taiwanese actress Pei Lin in a "passionate embrace", as described last November in the Taipei Times: The portrayal of a lesbian in a music video was supposedly a first for Taiwan.

According to the MDA, in the commercial, romanticised scenes of two girls kissing were shown and it portrayed the relationship as acceptable.

The MDA said it had taken into account the "severity" of the breach and that the commercial was aired on a youth-oriented TV channel.


15th April   

Update: GTA IV: Children's Version...

New Zealand also treated like kids
Link Here
Full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game

The news that kiwi gamers were dreading has come through today: Take-Two Interactive has contacted retailers to notify them that New Zealand will be receiving the same edited version of Grand Theft Auto IV as Australia.

Rockstar has created an edited version of Grand Theft Auto IV specifically for the Australian market. It has not yet released details of what has been edited out. The game attained an Australian MA15+ rating in December, with the warning that it contains strong violence, strong coarse language, drug and sexual references.

In New Zealand, the game received an R18 rating from the NZ OFLC in February, which only warned that it contains violence and offensive language.

Only the version of the game which has been rated in New Zealand (which would be the Australian version) is legal to be sold in NZ. Imported copies of the unedited version cannot be sold because they have not been rated.

Take-Two has not provided any explanation as to why New Zealand is receiving the Australian version this time around. New Zealand stocks for most games usually come from Australia, so the most likely explanation is that it came down to supply logistics.


15th April   

Age Old Censorship...

Singapore introduces games classifications
Link Here
Full story: Games Censorship in Singapore...Singapore introduces game censorship

Gamers in Singapore can look forward to a greater variety of video games with a new two-rating classification system that will be launched end April, the Board of Film Censors (BFC) under the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced today.

With effect from 28 April 2008, the new video games ratings are:

  • Mature 18 (M18) – For persons 18 years old and above. M18 is a restricted category and retailers will need to conduct age checks at the point of sale.
  • Age Advisory – Suitable for persons 16 years old and above. This is an advisory category to assist consumers in making informed choices. While retailers need not conduct age checks at the point of sale, they are encouraged to exercise responsibility by not selling these games to those below 16 years of age.
  • Games that do not fall into the above two categories but are approved for general consumption are not required to carry any rating stickers.

The video games classification system was developed over a two-year period involving detailed research and extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including members of MDA's advisory committees, representatives from the video games distribution and retail sectors, as well as parents, academics and gamers.

The new guidelines build upon the interim M18 rating, which was introduced in November 2007 to prepare the industry for the video games classification system. Since then, eight games, such as Conan and God of War: Chains of Olympus , have been brought into Singapore under the interim M18 rating.

In line with the BFC's practice of co-regulating with the industry, the classification system requires companies to declare all games meant for local distribution and sale via an online questionnaire. Companies will be required to submit physical copies of the titles only when the game contains mature content. In addition, the BFC will conduct periodic checks on games declarations to verify accuracy of declarations.

In explaining the benefits of such a co-regulatory system, Amy Chua said, Getting the industry to declare information about the games will speed up the classification process and facilitate time-to-market for new titles. Such industry involvement is crucial to the classification of video games due to the amount of time required to assess each game. This will also help BFC to focus on content that is not suitable for the young and keep compliance cost affordable. Under the system, it costs S$50 and takes six to 10 working days to rate a M18 game. A premium service is available for companies looking to shorten the processing time.

Classification Guidelines:

An Age Advisory label indicates that the game contains some contentious elements that are not recommended for the young. Games that contain the following elements may be required to carry an age advisory label:

  • Violence
    Moderate level of violence. This refers to realistic but not excessively graphic violence with depiction of blood which may be included in the gameplay.
  • Sex
    Portrayal of implied sexual activity.
  • Nudity
    Nudity without details, e.g. no nipples, genitalia or pubic region (includes hair).
    Still or moving images which may be mildly suggestive may be featured, e.g. scantily-clad women in bikinis or lingerie.
  • Language
    Coarse language should generally be limited to the use of words like “fuck”.
  • Drug Use
    Depiction of illegal drug use which is incidental to the game and not realistic. Content of the game does not encourage drug use.

The M18 rating indicates that the game is restricted to persons 18 years andabove. These games may contain the following:

  • Theme
    - Treatment and exploration of mature themes appropriate to 18 years and above.
    - Content that requires the player to engage in illegal activities or play the role of a criminal so long as it does not contain detailed instructions for committing crimes.
    - Some homosexual content, provided it does not glamorize the lifestyle or is exploitative.
  • Violence
    Depictions of realistic violence, such as killing, maiming or causing other serious injury to humanoid characters if the violence is not sadistic, cruel and abhorrent.
  • Sex
    - Portrayal of sexual activity with some nudity, both topless and frontal, if not detailed.
    - Homosexual activity should be limited to kissing and hugging.
  • Nudity
    - Depiction of topless nudity or occasional full frontal nudity, if not exploitative. Nudity should not titillate or be the main feature of the game.
    - Still or moving images which may be sexually titillating (but does not contain nudity), e.g. scantily-clad women shown in a manner that is sexually suggestive, if not excessive or gratuitous.
  • Language
    Frequent use of strong coarse language, such as “motherfucker", "cunt", and "cocksucker”.
  • Drug Use
    There may be realistic depiction of illegal drug use, but portrayal should not include instructive details. Games should not glamorise or encourage drug taking or the primary intent of a game should not be to encourage the consumption of drugs to achieve success, e.g. kill the enemy or complete a level.

Banned : Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR)

  • Content which denigrates any race or religion, or undermines Singapore's national interest.
  • Content that glorifies deviant sexual behaviour or activities such as paedophilia or bestiality. Games dealing with alternative lifestyles such as sadomasochism and group sex.
  • Clear instructional details of criminal activities, such as step-by-step guide to making a bomb.
  • Detailed and bloody depictions of sadistic and cruel violence, including horrific, brutal or repulsive depictions of death, injury, dismemberment or torture.
  • Depiction of sexual violence, including rape.
  • Content where the primary purpose is for the players to engage in sexual activity.
  • Detailed and frequent depiction of sexual activity, such as depictions of actual sexual intercourse including content which depicts explicit sexual activity where genitals may not be visible.
  • Exploitative and excessive depiction of nudity. This refers to male and female nudity where genitalia are clearly depicted. This would include content where the presentation of nudity is exploitative and nudity is a constant feature of the game.
  • Coarse language which is religiously offensive and denigrative.
  • Content that glamorises or encourages the use of illegal drugs. Or serve as a step-by-step guide to preparing and consumption of illegal drugs.


14th April   

Censorship Police...

Nigerian censorship board officials raid theatre
Link Here

A court in Nigeria's Muslim dominated north, where the Islamic Sharia law is in force, has slapped jail terms or fines on 13 people for staging “indecent” shows, according to court documents.

The performers were arrested by officials of the censorship board of the northern Kano State while performing a dance and drama show.

The Kano court ruled that they should either serve prison terms of four months or pay fines of $333 each for publicly engaging in an indecent stage show with intent to corrupt.

The arrests were made under the state's 2001 cinematography law, which was interpreted to also cover the performing arts and even the use of theatre premises for private events deemed to be immoral.

Kano, one of the most conservative of the northern states, had also staged a crackdown on the local film industry Kannywood. The state government first banned all film-making in the state for six months and then, at the expiry of the ban, imposed a series of 32 restrictions on the industry. Filmmakers said the restrictions were so crippling that they amounted to a continuation of the six-month ban.


10th April   

The Inappropriate Simpsons...

Venezuela bans The Simpsons
Link Here

The Simpsons has been dropped from morning TV in Venezuela after being deemed unsuitable for children - and has been replaced by Baywatch .

The popular US cartoon about the yellow dysfunctional family was branded "inappropriate" and pulled by the country's television authorities.

The country's TV regulator said the saga of Homer Simpson, wife Marge and their three children flouted regulations that prohibit messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents. It said that some unspecified complaints had been received from viewers.

Comment: Brave or What

14th April 2008 from the Times

It is not always wise to cross the cartoon's creators. George Bush Sr and his wife Barbara became frequent and unwilling characters on the show after the former President said that Americans should strive to be more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons. The creators hit back by having the Simpsons watch the 1992 speech, with Bart objecting that they were, in fact, a lot like the Waltons – we're praying for the end of the Depression, too.

President Chávez, Venezuela's leader, has not pronounced on the Simpsons controversy, but on past form he does not respond well to mockery: he made his irritation known last week with a photo from the Reuters news agency in which he appeared in front of two black circles, making him look as if he were wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. State-controlled media attacked the picture as an act of “media terrorism”.

Update: Simpsons Back Later

20th April 2008

The Simpsons has returned to TV in Venezuela after it was deemed unsuitable for children - and was replaced by Baywatch .

A spokeswoman for the station Televen said the popular US cartoon about the yellow dysfunctional family would now be shown in an early evening slot.

Venezuela's TV authorities forced the network to take it off air by threatening to fine it.


6th April   

Arabs, Terrorists and Censors...

Film Festival highlights censorship in Singapore
Link Here

Singapore's censors have banned four documentary films from a movie festival for portrayals of terrorism, depicting gay Muslims, and excessive scenes of sado-masochism.

Two movies Arabs And Terrorism and David The Tolhildan , were disallowed on account of their sympathetic portrayal of organizations deemed terrorist organizations by many countries, Amy Chua, chairman of the Board of Film Censors, told the pro-government Straits Times: Films which portray terrorist organizations in a positive light by lending support and voice to justify their cause through violence are disallowed under the film classification guidelines.

The four films were among 200 submitted for classification by organizers of the Singapore International Film Festival , which started on Friday and ends April 14.

Arabs And Terrorism is a series of interviews with academics, U.S. policymakers and Middle Eastern political factions and their conflicting views of terrorism. The documentary turns a critical eye on current American perceptions regarding the hypothetical link between "Arabs" and "Terrorism," while cutting to the heart of the historic and ongoing conflict of ideas between the Arab World and the West.

David The Tolhildan depicts the life of Swiss national David Rouiller who leaves home to join the militant Kurdish Workers' Party, while In A Jihad For Love includes interviews with gays and lesbians in Muslim communities.

Bakushi , the fourth film that was banned, is a documentary on the practice of kinbaku, a Japanese form of sexual bondage which involves tying up women in elaborate rope patterns.


5th April   

In the Name of God the Censor...

First Pakistan film to get release in India for 40 years
Link Here

It became the most successful Pakistani film of all time. Bold, striking and widely acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Khuda Kay Liye focuses on the lives of Muslims in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and the Bush administration's "war on terror".

Now, it has become the first Pakistani film in more than four decades to go on full release at cinemas across its predominantly Hindu neighbour, India, receiving rapturous applause at its Indian premiere in Mumbai.

The film, the Urdu title of which translates as In the Name of God , is the first film directed by Shoaib Mansoor.

Since the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the two countries have officially banned each others' films, despite the fact that Bollywood movies and songs, pirated and easily available, are hugely popular in Pakistan.

In recent years, however, with relations between the countries considerably improved, the authorities have made exceptions. In 2003, India permitted the Pakistani film Khamosh Pani – Silent Waters – on limited release while in 2006 Pakistan allowed three Indian films to be shown.

Mansoor's film has already faced considerable controversy. When it was released in Pakistan last summer, there was a backlash from some religious extremists who said it should be banned. Nevertheless, the film won the Silver Pyramid Award at last year's Cairo International Festival.

When Khuda Kay Liye was released in Pakistan, Mansoor, said he had been driven to make the movie after a friend of his announced that he was giving up music because he had reached the conclusion that it was banned by the Koran. I thought that the need of the hour was to study the whole mindset which gave birth to such wrong notions about Islam.


1st April   

Uninviting Hostel...

Hostel 2 butchered for the lurid delight of the New Zealand censor
Link Here

A horror film that censors ruled could not be screened in New Zealand cinemas uncut is finally being released for fans to enjoy at home.

Hostel: Part II has had its notorious 'bloodbath' scene censored for the version of the movie being released on DVD in New Zealand.

Sony Pictures, the film's distributor in New Zealand, fought the decision to have the film censored last year and is still unhappy with the result: What a waste of time the whole process was, says General Manager Andrew Cornwell. It's cost a fortune for us to have our own special DVD version and has meant a delay to the DVD release. Everyone who wanted to has seen the bloodbath scene on YouTube anyway.

After the film was denied a classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), the decision was appealed at the Film and Literature Board of Review.

The Board of Review disagreed that the entire scene should be removed and with the rationale applied by the OFLC for the censorship. They did, however, rule that scene had to be censored before release in New Zealand, by a vote of 3 - 2.

Hostel: Part II is now believed to be one of the most illegally downloaded films of all time in New Zealand.

The New Zealand release date for the DVD is 30 April.


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