Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Singapore Government's biggest blockbuster since 1987

Straits Times headline 22 April 2008.

"Gone in 11 minutes"
Starring Wong Kan Seng and Lee Hsien Loong.
Supported by a cast at the parliamentary sitting on 21 April 2008.
Screenplay by Goh Joon Seng, Tee Tua Bua and Dr Choong May Lin.
Produced and directed by Lee Kuan Yew.

The greatest jailbreak, or the boldest story ever told?

Straits Times headline 27 May 1987.

"The Marxist Conspiracy"
Written, produced, directed and acted by Lee Kuan Yew.

"Marxist Conspiracy" arrests - 20 years on

Sunday Times headline 21 June, 1987.

A History of Torture under Singapore's ISA Detention :

(l) Prisoner case histories

(ll) The ISA as a political tool

(lll) Methods of arrest, detention and interrogation

(IV) Long term detention

"Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay"

Starring John Cho and Kal Penn
Written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Speakers Cornered rated NC16 by censors

It took the Board of Film Censors more than four months to come to a decision, but finally, Speakers Cornered has been passed clean and rated NC16.

However, this does not mean that it is cleared for public screening as that would require a separate application. So I hereby welcome anyone who wishes to screen the video in public to contact me (do note that unlicensed exhibitors will have to make a security deposit of $10K for screenings of films rated NC16 and above).

If you need to ask why it is necessary to submit a film to the censors when it's already playing in youtube, then you need to read this and this, and then join the call to trash the Films Act altogether.

A timeline of Martyn See's odyssey :

May 2005 : Called up by the police over the making of 'Singapore Rebel.'

Jan 2006 : Submits 'Zahari's 17 Years' to SIFF but screening cancelled.

Aug 2006 : Police investigation over 'Singapore Rebel' called off after "stern warning."

Oct 2006 : 'Speakers Cornered' screens in Taiwan.

Oct 2006 : 'Zahari's 17 Years' screens in Malaysia.

Feb 2007 : 'Zahari's 17 Years' and 'Speakers Cornered' screens in Toronto.

Apr 2007 : 'Zahari's 17 Years' is officially banned.

Sep 2007 : 'Speakers Cornered' screens in Malaysia.

Dec 2007 : 'Speakers Cornered' uploaded on youtube.

Dec 31 2007 : 'Speakers Cornered' submitted to censors.

Mar 2007 : 'Speakers Cornered' screens in Singapore under 'private function'



Censors pass film on Hong Lim demo

NC16 rating for film on Speakers' Corner protest

“Submit your boldest work to the censors.” - Martyn See

Prosecute or nothing

Saturday, April 05, 2008

An open invitation to political bloggers

Update : Reviews and analyses by Alex Au and Selene Cheng.


Attention bloggers,

You are invited to the forum 'Cyber Activism : The Malaysian Experience' on Thursday, 10 April at 7.30pm in Jalan Besar.

Confirmed speakers are Mr Steven Gan, the co-founder and editor of celebrated news portal Malaysiakini, and Mr Nathaniel Tan, an internet activist with the Malaysian opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Local blogger/activist Mr Alex Au will moderate the discussion.

For details of the venue, please RSVP and state the name(s) of person(s) who wish to attend to: daretodocument{at}gmail.com

Please note that this event is billed as a private function.

The forum is jointly organised by Martyn See, Seelan Palay, Isrizal, Ho Choon Hiong and Muhammad Shafi'ie.


Related talks

"Impact of ICTs in the Malaysian Elections- Lessons for Singapore"
A forum by the IPS, Lee Kuan School of Public Policy on April 9, 2pm
Speakers : Mr Ahirudin Attan (Rocky Bru), Mr Steven Gan, Mr Haris Ibrahim, Mr Jeff Ooi, Mr Ibrahim Suffian and Mr Nathaniel Tan
Email : ips@nus.edu.sg

Public Talk at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, NTU
We Told You So: Independent Journalism and the Malaysian Government’s “Biggest Mistake”

Gay Muslim filmmaker calls Singapore's regime "almost fascist"


Singapore censors say four films banned from film festival (FROM AFP)

Posted by Parvez Sharma at 9:18 AM 5 comments


We have just received word that the Censor Board in Singapore has refused to approve the film for the Singapore Film Festival. They have in their words 'disallowed' it. The Festival was trying very hard to get the film approved by the censors. This small nation, where I have many friends, has a small but significant Muslim minority. In many of the descriptions of this antiseptic shopping paradise, what is often missed is that an almost fascist regime controls every aspect of life. I promise to keep you updated.

In Copenhagen, the film has been received with warmth and excitement. Muhsin commented that the nation was in many ways 'God-less'. This is true, because in Denmark, religion is often seen as a destructive and alien force. Another friend commented on this nation where 'there are no curtains'. I looked, and indeed many curtainless windows make me wonder if religion does not have even a private space? The press was overwhelming.

Visit ajihadforlove.blogspot.com/ for updates.

Censors ban four foreign films

4 films banned at movie festival

Two films deemed sympathetic to terrorism, a third about gay Muslims, and another too explicit.

By Zakir Hussain

THE censor has banned four documentary films from being screened at the ongoing 21st Singapore International Film Festival.

Two of them, Arabs And Terrorism and David The Tolhildan, were 'disallowed on account of their sympathetic portrayal of organisations deemed terrorist organisations by many countries', said Ms Amy Chua, chairman of the Board of Film Censors.

'Films which portray terrorist organisations in a positive light by lending support and voice to justify their cause through violence are disallowed under the film classification guidelines,' she said in an e-mail reply to The Straits Times.

The third film is about gay Muslims while the fourth has 'several prolonged and explicit sado-masochistic sequences'.

The four were among 200 films submitted for classification by festival organisers. The film festival began yesterday and ends on April 14.

The 135-minute Arabs And Terrorism, which was to have been shown today, includes interviews with United States and Middle Eastern policymakers as well as academics and leaders of radical groups on their conflicting definitions of terrorism.

The news that it was 'disallowed' was given to festival director Philip Cheah by the Media Development Authority, which oversees the censorship board.

Mr Cheah told The Straits Times he got the news over the phone on Thursday.

He declined to comment further, but the festival website showed tickets for the film had been sold out by Tuesday.

Ms Chua said the censorship board had consulted relevant agencies and the Films Consultative Panel (FCP), and found the documentaries had 'exceeded the film classification guidelines'. The FCP, made up of Singaporeans from various segments of society, helps the board evaluate controversial films.

David The Tolhildan, a 54-minute Kurdish film, is about Swiss national David Rouiller joining the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party.

In A Jihad For Love, an 81-minute documentary, a gay South African imam argues that homosexuality is not banned even as another imam rebuts his view.

Ms Chua said the film was 'disallowed in view of the sensitive nature of the subject that features Muslim homosexuals in various countries and their struggle to reconcile religion and their lifestyle'.

Bakushi, the fourth film that failed to escape the censors, is a 90-minute documentary on the practice of 'rope-tying' in Japan.

'It contains several prolonged and explicit sado-masochistic sequences, demonstrating how the rope masters tie up nude women and subject them to various degrees of physical abuse and sexual degradation for erotic gratification,' said MsChua.

'The theme normalises unnatural fetishes and behaviour which is disallowed under the Film Classification Guidelines.'



Read also :

Singapore censors say four films banned from film festival - AFP
Singapore censor bans 4 films at film fest: report - reuters
Sexuality, terrorism films banned by Singapore - CBC
Documentaries too terroristic for Singapore - dpa report

"Jihad for Love" seeks gay Muslim audiences - Reuters report
Arabs and Terrorism - NYT review
Bakushi - NYT review
David The Tolhildan - A background

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Activists screen political films in "private function"

Despite the Government's ban on "party political films", Singaporean activists on Saturday organised a video exhibition entitled "Dare To Document : Political Films by Singaporeans".

As the law requires that all public screenings in Singapore are to be sanctioned by an exhibition licence, the organisers were quick to bill the event as a "private function." Still, about 50 people, including members of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, Workers' Party, civil activists, academics and even former ISA detainees, packed into a room above an art gallery off Jalan Besar to view three videos - Speakers Cornered, Seelan's Five Day Fast and 鸡蛋碰石头 or How My Favourite Opposition Party Fought the PAP (and lost their pants, again) made by local directors Martyn See and Ho Choon Hiong.

The latter film, directed by Ho, features scenes of the 2006 General Elections where the opposition SDP, already beleaguered by libel suits served on them by PAP leaders, was eventually defeated in the polls by a landslide margin. That the film's content would contravene the Films Act mattered little to the organisers, as See told the audience after the screening that he is issuing an open challenge to the censors to clamp down on the uploading of political films online and such private screenings.

Aside from See and Ho, the other co-organisers were activists Seelan Palay, Isrizal and Muhammad Shafi'ie. See quipped that Ho is the only "virgin" as four out of five of them have been or are still undergoing police investigations for their civil activities. In the post-screening dialogue, Isrizal related how his moment of truth came when he witnessed the police arrest of his friend Seelan outside the City Hall MRT station on 13th of September, 2006. Three days later, he participated in his first open protest in Hong Lim Park, captured in See's film Speakers Cornered.

Noting how audience member Dr Chee Soon Juan's acts of civil disobedience since 1999 has generated much heated debate over the role of opposition politicians vis-à-vis extra-parliamentary measures as opposed to gaining votes via traditional methods like working the ground, See issued another challenge - this time to opposition groups and civil society - that one has to do both. He went on to cite how the three opposition parties in Malaysia managed to mobilise 40,000 people onto the streets of KL in a single largest act of civil disobedience ever recorded and yet at the same time worked hard to gain grassroots support for the elections.

Artist/activist Seelan related how he was recently advised by a senior local artist, a former Cultural Medallion winner, that he should lay off political activism and just concentrate on his art. The irony, Seelan noted, was that the aforementioned artist's claim to fame was his ability to infuse his works with socio-political issues.

At the same time, Ho and See said they were uncomfortable at being called 'political filmmakers.' "I'm doing no more than what journalists all over the world do - interview political dissidents, talk to an ex-political detainee, record a street protest. It's just that our CNA and Straits Times are not doing it so I'm filling that vacuum. I'm just a citizen journalist," explained See.

Yawning Bread's Alex Au also brought up the subject of the anti-Islam film made by a right-wing Dutch politician and asked for the organisers' response. None of them supported any outright banning of the film but noted that it should perhaps be restricted. Seelan's philosophical take was that the artist and the community who supported his right of expression should also bear the consequences should repercussions occur.

To applause, Au also announced that a committee of bloggers, formed recently to look into internet reform, will make a recommendation to the Government for the total abolition of the Films Act.

After the glitch-free, three-hour event ended, some participants went up to the organisers to express their wish to see more of such screenings in the future.


Read WP member Yaw Shin Leong's review here.
Another point of view from Rachael Absinthe.

Why the Films Act should be thrashed by Yawning Bread