Asean fest says no to controversial local film

24 March 2013 / 3 years 7 months ago

Roadblocks have once again appeared for the controversial Singapore movie Sex.Violence.FamilyValues - this time, in Malaysia.The English-language film by Singapore film-maker Ken Kwek was yanked from screens in Singapore last year for alleged racial insults in its dialogue. It was allowed back in cinemas here last week after edits were made, reports The Straits Times.Across the Causeway, however, the film has been given a "not approved for screening" ("tidak lulus untuk tayangan", or TUT) verdict by the Film Censorship Board Of Malaysia.It had been entered in the inaugural ASEAN International Film Festival And Awards (AIFFA), to be held next Thursday to Saturday in Kuching, Sarawak.The festival is supported by various official bodies in Malaysia, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia.The Singapore liaison director of the festival, Mr Kamil Haque, 30, says that both the unedited and edited versions were submitted for approval. Both have been disallowed.The 47-minute film is an anthology of three short films that deal with issues such as sexuality, racial stereotypes and social values about the roles of daughters and women.The sexy film's big screen debut was initially put on hold, before it was given an R21 rating after edits.

The note from the Film Censorship Board Of Malaysia with details of its decision, seen by The Straits Times, says that the film contains "crude and lewd" dialogue that "ridicules local cultures".Mr Haque says he is a "huge fan" of Kwek's work and that "it is unfortunate that all this is happening". He has offered to compensate the film-maker for any costs incurred.As far as Mr Haque is aware, no other Singapore film submitted to the festival has run afoul of the Malaysian censors. Singapore entries include comedy Taxi! Taxi! (2013) starring Gurmit Singh and the military comedy Ah Boys To Men (2012), directed by Jack Neo.Kwek, 33, sent this response to The Straits Times by e-mail: "I'm definitely getting a sense of deja vu. But there's no point in repeating our defence of the film. Now that the Singapore version is out, I'm interested to hear what audiences here think. I hope they'll judge the film as a film, not as a yardstick for censorship or a cultural sticking point."Film producer Tay Eu Yen, executive director of entertainment company The Butter Factory, said: "We disagree that the film is insulting to any culture and are disappointed that Malaysia has banned the film. Given the short notice, we will leave it to the discretion of the AIFFA organisers whether to appeal the ban. The Butter Factory and Ken Kwek will not do so as producers."Since its opening in Singapore last week, the film has earned $18,000, according to Kwek.The sexy film's big screen debut was initially put on hold, before it was given an R21 rating after edits.

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