Studio seeks permission of film censorship board

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — UIP is applying for permission to release Steven Speilberg’s “Munich” in mostly Muslim Malaysia, where movies on sensitive issues often are banned.

UIP said Thursday it will ask Malaysia’s state-run film censorship board to approve an April 13 release for “Munich,” which depicts the aftermath of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.

The government is cautious about Israeli and Jewish topics, and banned Spielberg’s Holocaust pic “Schindler’s List” in 1993, calling it Zionist propaganda. It later lifted the ban following public appeals, but said scenes with nudity and violence must be cut. The film was never screened because Spielberg insisted it be shown in its entirety.

However, UIP publicity manager Dawn Liew said the distrib will not apply for approval of Ang Lee’s gay romance “Brokeback Mountain,” adding, “Its themes wouldn’t be right for our local audiences.”

Other high-profile movies that have been banned include animated biblical epic “The Prince of Egypt,” which was deemed “insensitive for religious reasons,” and Ben Stiller’s spy spoof “Zoolander,” about a plot to assassinate a Malaysian prime minister.

Last year, the government approved Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” but Muslims — some 60% of Malaysia’s 26 million people — were barred from screenings. Malaysia’s population also includes Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities.

Officials at the censorship board were not available for comment.

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