Filmmakers call for reform of Film Censorship Act

Controversial film: Cinemagoers queuing up for tickets to watch ‘Vishvaroopam’ in Petaling Jaya. Left: A poster promoting the movie.

PETALING JAYA: In line with the new government's commitment to freedom of speech and expression, a group of filmmakers and human right activists are urging for the Government to reform the Film Censorship Act 2002.

The Freedom Film Network (FFN) has called on Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo to enable an environment where independent film makers can flourish.

"FFN would also like to see the de-politicisation of film regulating bodies such as Lembaga Penapisan Filem and FINAS, who should be made independent and transparent in all their dealings," FFN said in a statement on Sunday (June 3).

"We urge the government to assure the Malaysian public that films dealing with human rights issues or matters of public interest will be free from politically motivated censorship," it said.

FFN said it strongly believes that film making should not be seen as an industry solely for its entertainment or commercial value and should be celebrated for its role in nation building.

It said social film making asks critical questions and provides an alternative perspective to Malaysians, and should be given due support and recognition.

It added that the Film Censorship Act has been a major legal hindrance in our work to promote human rights education through film.

"FFN have therefore submitted a legal brief on the Film Censorship Act to the Institutional Reform Committee, which we strongly believe should be prioritised for repeal during the first parliamentary session," it said.

In 2013, the FCA was used against human rights activist Lena Hendry, who was sentenced to RM10,000 or a year in jail for screening the documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” by award winning filmmaker Callum Macrae.

FFN also called for the authorities to expunge Lena Hendry's criminal record, as well as other filmmakers, artists or media personnel, whose charges were "clearly politically motivated in nature".

FFN is a not-for-profit established to support and develop social documentary film making within the context of freedom of expression and the values contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Malaysia.

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