Singapore has banned a satirical local movie three days before its theatrical release because it was deemed offensive to the island’s ethnic Indian minority, a media watchdog confirmed Tuesday.
“Sex.Violence.FamilyValues” had originally been rated suitable for viewers aged 18 and above, but a review panel concluded that one of the three stories in the 47-minute independent movie was unsuitable for public exhibition.
“An overwhelming majority of the panel members have expressed that the film should not be allowed for public exhibition in view of its overt racial references which are demeaning and offensive to Indians,” said a statement sent to AFP by the Media Development Authority (MDA).
“Should the film owner wish to pursue the matter, they may lodge an appeal with the Films Appeal Committee.”
The film’s Facebook promotional page carried a news report about the ban on Tuesday, generating strong criticism of the MDA and calls for Singaporeans to be allowed to judge the movie for themselves.
Despite the ban, a trailer showing local film and stage star Adrian Pang making fun of a co-actor’s Indian ethnicity in a story entitled “Porn Masala” could still be viewed Tuesday on the film’s official website.
The website described the movie, which premiered last week and was due to open in a cinema for a limited run on Thursday, as “three iconoclastic stories in a short film that pitches political correctness out the window of Singapore mainstream cinema”.
The Straits Times said the film was made by first-time director Ken Kwek, 33, for just Sg$100,000 ($81,000).
Singapore has relaxed censorship rules on film nudity and violence in recent years. But it has strict laws against inciting racial or religious hatred in a predominantly ethnic Chinese society with Malay and Indian minorities.
The movie was banned on the same day an ethnic Chinese executive of a national labour group was sacked for insulting members of the Malay community in a Facebook posting.