Friday, 22 September 2023

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Films of demos and assemblies approved by the authorities

Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor

It took five months before the Board of Film Censors (BFC) approved six films submitted to it by filmmaker Ho Choon Hiong. Four of the six films, of various public demonstrations and public assemblies, were given PG ratings while the other two were ascribed NC16 or M18 ratings.

“I hope that with this passing of six of my films… it will encourage more people to come out in the open and submit their films,” he tells The Online Citizen (TOC) in an email interview. Together with the recent approval given to another film, Speakers Cornered, by Martyn See, Ho believes that “the fear of [the] film act is no longer that valid” and said that he found the approval an “encouraging sign”. “BFC is already working hard to fine tune their process to vet such films,” he wrote on his blog. “In due time the process will be more transparent….. I hope,” he added.

The six pieces of Ho’s work submitted to the BFC and now approved are:

Human Rights Torch Relay. (M18 ratings)

Burmese Says No. (NC16 ratings)

NUS international students vigil walk. (PG ratings)

Singaporean started 5 days fasting against ISA on Hindraf 5. (PG ratings)

Burmese staged peaceful demonstration in Singapore. (PG ratings)

Morning May Day Montage. (PG ratings)

Asked if he intends to screen the films in public, which would require him to make a separate application and get approval from the authorities, Ho says that yes, he intends to do so but says that he is taking things “one stage at a time.”

He feels that whether his films received approval from the authorities will not affect any of his future work. “Even if the film act is still there,” he says, “some of us will still continue to do documentation and upload on Youtube.”

However, his hope is that the approval of his six films will encourage other budding filmmakers to be less afraid of doing controversial or political films.

Ho is “quite curious” about one thing, though: why two of his films were rated differently from the other four. Perhaps such questions will no longer be left unanswered by the authorities in future when the Films Act is amended next year.


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