‘We need a more open censor board’

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian creative industry wants a more open and collaborative relationship between the Film Censorship Board (LPF) and filmmakers.

“LPF needs to open its door for more open discussions. As far as I know, LPF members are government servants.

“I feel that including creative industry representatives in LPF would be better for us,” film producer Datuk Arisz Ab Rahman said when contacted.

His comment comes after Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced on Monday the updated censorship guidelines for films under LPF that focus on “public safety and security, religion, as well as morals and socioculture”.

While the new guidelines are there to allow industry players and filmmakers to produce quality work without compromising or limiting their creativity and skills, Arisz said the government should instead loosen the LPF guidelines for the sake of creativity.

“The old guidelines already restrict our creativity; for example, in the horror genre or topics touching on race, there are limitations in place.

“But these topics are talked about on social media; they are accessible on the Internet, so censoring them is unrealistic,” he said.

Arisz noted that today’s audiences are smart enough to decipher what a filmmaker is trying to say with their work.

“We have achieved our independence for more than 60 years now. At this point, Malaysians know each other’s cultures and are mature enough to judge for themselves topics that fall under social criticism.

“Only when we are willing to admit all this can we elevate our film industry to come up with better films,” he added.

Arisz also suggested pre-production consultations with the LPF to prevent financial losses from banned films.

“The film industry is a risky business. When a finished film undergoes a cut or ban, the risk increases. An unreleased film is a complete loss. We will never get back the money we spent making it,” he said.

“In order to prevent this, I think it is better to approach the LPF first, even before making a film that’s deemed controversial.”

As of now, the standard procedure is for LPF to view the film after it is completely ready.

During the presentation on Monday morning, the Home Minister mentioned that the introduction of new guidelines was “conducted with all levels of stakeholders in the local film industry”.

However, Arisz pointed out that many of the ideas presented by filmmakers were not really heard.

Meanwhile, actor Datuk Rosyam Nor said he would have liked to have been called for the discussions with the ministry.

Rosyam said although he did not yet know the full details of the new guidelines, there was nothing else to do but comply with them.

“It is up to us to convey what we want to say creatively without breaking the set guidelines,” he added.

Actress-director Ellie Suriaty said filmmakers in Malaysia are already practising self-censorship on top of the given guidelines.

“As filmmakers in Malaysia, even when you direct a drama, you already have your own set of guidelines. We know not to stir any kinds of 3R issues,” she said, referring to race, religion and royalty.

She also lamented what she called double standard when it comes to censorship.

“There is a lot of foreign content available on TV and through streaming. I think it’s unfair that our content gets censored while such foreign content is freely available to everyone,” Ellie said.

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film censorship , lpf , filmmakers , guidelines


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