April 20, 2007 / 12:19 AM / 13 years ago

Singapore censors two films over sex, religion

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has censored two art films at its annual film festival because of their explicit sexual content and religious symbols.

“Princess,” an animated film by Danish director Anders Morgenthaler, was withdrawn from the Singapore International Film Festival after the censor demanded the festival cut a “religiously offensive” scene. The film tells the story of a priest who tries to erase his dead sister’s past as a porn star.

“The scene has a porn star in a nun’s habit, with a cross protruding from her behind. Film with content denigrating a religion or a religious symbol are not permitted,” Singapore’s Board of Film Censors told Reuters in an e-mail on Thursday.

“Solos,” a Singapore film about the homosexual relationship between an older man and a boy, was censored because of “explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes including scenes of oral sex and threesome sex,” the board said.

Loo Zihan, co-director of “Solos” said he was appealing the censor’s decision, but has not yet withdrawn the film.

“The sex scenes are not meant to titillate. It’s an art film. We hope it won’t be viewed as porn,” Loo told Reuters.

The organizers have a policy of showing only uncut films, so “Princess,” which opened the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in May last year, was pulled from Singapore’s film festival.

The censorship board told Reuters that films submitted for festivals are generally given more leeway “in view of the limited screening and niche audience,” but added the two films exceeded that leeway.

Censorship is common in Singapore, and even mainstream films such as “Titanic,” “The Hours” and “American Beauty” were cut for cinema release.

Last week, the government banned a film about former political detainee Said Zahari by local film director Martyn See, as it was deemed to be “against public interests.”

But a Thai film that was censored at home will be screened uncut at the Singapore festival, which started on Wednesday, organizers


Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Syndromes and a Century,” features scenes of a monk playing a guitar and another monk playing a game. This portrayed them in “inappropriate ways,” according to Thai daily the Nation, which cited censors. Monks are revered in largely Buddhist Thailand.

The director refused to make four cuts demanded by the Thai censor and the film was not shown in Thailand.


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