The Media Development Authority said that it had classified the film as Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR), for giving a distorted view of history.
The film is a documentary that comprises interviews with nine political exiles, all over 60, who were previously student leaders, trades unionists or members of Singapore’s communist party.
“MDA has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimized innocent individuals. Under the Film Classification Guidelines, films that are assessed to undermine national security will be given an NAR rating. The individuals in the film have given distorted and untruthful accounts of how they came to leave Singapore and remain outside Singapore…” the MDA said in a statement posted on its website.
The film had previously premiered at the Busan festival last year and has since traveled to other festivals including Dubai, where Tan won the prize for documentary director.
She was attempting to show the film as part of the Freedom Film Festival at the National University of Singapore to be held at the end of the month.
“Now, the irony that a film about Singapore exiles is now exiled from Singapore as well – this is not something I ever wanted or hoped for,” Tan said on Facebook. “I was hoping that the film would open up a national conversation to allow us to understand ourselves as a nation better too.
“I am therefore very disappointed that my film is banned. By doing this, MDA is taking away an opportunity for us Singaporeans see it and to have a conversation about it and our past that this film could have started or contributed to. It is vital for us to have that conversation on our own terms, especially on the eve of our 50th birthday. We need to be trusted to be able to find the answers about ourselves, for ourselves.
“It is my deepest regret that we cannot have such a conversation here today.”
A number of other films are being prepared with MDA finance in advance of next year’s 50th anniversary on independence celebrations.