Malaysia, Indonesia clamp down on movies

HONG KONG — Asia’s censors have been busy preventing release of movies that do not take approved views of local history.

The Malaysian government last week banned a documentary about the country’s long-disbanded Communist Party. In Indonesia, provincial authorities in the tourist resort of Bali have banned “The Long Road to Heaven,” a local film that depicts the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Film Censorship Unit gave helmer Amir Muhammad seven reasons that “Village People Radio Show” (Apa khabar orang kampung) a docu sequel to his 2006 Berlin Forum film “The Last Communist” (Lelaki komunis terakhir”) would not be allowed a release.

Censors said they and the police special branch had viewed the film five times. They objected to Muhammad’s portrayal of a noble Communist struggle after WWII and his criticism of the Malaysian government for not offering the Communists an acceptable rehabilitation plan.

The Center for Independent Journalism said the ban is a violation of the constitutional right to free speech.

Amir’s previous movie, “Last Communist,” was passed by the Censorship Unit, but it was subsequently banned following public protests. Helmer has until March 10 to appeal the latest decision.

In Bali, screening “Road to Heaven” could “reopen old wounds,” I Gusti Ngurah Gde, head of Bali’s film board, says. “We fear people who do not understand it would trigger conflict and direct hatred at a certain group.”

The film, already widely released in other parts of Indonesia, is directed by Ennison Sinaro. It was produced by Nia Dinata, producer of the country’s 2006 foreign-language Oscar nominee “Love for Share.” Pic delivers multiple views of the bombings and examines the motivation of the Indonesian and Malaysian Islamic militants involved.

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