This is why we can’t have nice things. Just days after seven directors picked for anthology film 7 Letters announced that they had total creative control over their mega SG50 project, two foreign films scheduled for screening at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) have pulled out — because the Media Development Authority (MDA) required scenes to be cut.
According to The Straits Times, the films — Tony Manero (2008) by Chilean director Pablo Larrain, and A German Youth (2015) by French director Jean-Gabriel Periot — have withdrawn from The O.P.E.N., a prelude festival of the SIFA because the MDA required scenes with sexual and mature content to be cut out.
On the film directors’ side, SIFA director Ong Keng Sen said, “Singapore International Festival of Arts believes in respecting the integrity of the directors’ vision and craft. We will not screen a film with edits.”
Tony Manero features an oral sex scene set in the period of military dictator Augusto Pinochet’s Chile — a scene which festival organisers felt was “necessary in the context of the film”.
It’s not the first time the MDA has pushed for huge cuts and edits, or outwardly banned films in Singapore. They’ve done it before, and will probably keep at it. From reasons such as ‘undermining national security’ — as with the case of Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore With Love — to the plain old ‘sexual activities that exceed our existing film classification guidelines for all ratings and screenings,’ the MDA will always be a voice of reason in the face of a maturing film industry. Or not.
One of the scenes required to be cut out from Jean-Gabriel Periot’s A German Youth is one that depicts how to make a Molotov cocktail. For something that is readily available on the Internet (and in games), it’s hardly hard-hitting enough to warrant an edit.
Well, there’s always Minions showing in cinemas if fellatio’s too much for you.