“What does BROAD mean? Think of the story of Royston Tan, whom many of us know today as a filmmaker. Did you know he might never have found his passion for filmmaking if not for a video he made for his Art O-Levels at Zhonghua Secondary?”
Royston Tan made a film in 2004, titled “15”, about Singapore’s secret society.
The Guardian newspaper reported in 2004:
“The police were concerned about scenes which featured real-life gang chants which had resulted in gang fights when they were sung in public places,” said a spokeswoman for the Media Development Authority, which oversees censorship. “The film also named actual secret societies and their operational grounds which the police felt would serve to promote and give prominence to these gangs.”
The censorship board reportedly wanted only one cut before approving 15’s release in Singapore, a brief shot of a 17cm (7in) penis, while the police insisted on 26 further deletions. After four months of deliberations 15 was released with about 10 of its 100 minutes expunged, but with an 18 rating and not in suburban cinemas.
Tan had prepared a version for Singapore with the penis and a few other shots deleted but was not prepared for the scale of the controversy. But he says he is unable to discuss the way his film was treated.
“I’ve been advised not to talk about censorship, that we should move on,” he said, admitting only that one of the stars, Shaun Tan (no relation), had told him police had interrogated him.
“Shaun [told me he] was threatened to be stripped and have cold water poured over him if he didn’t give the answers they wanted,” he said. “It’s strange I haven’t been questioned. I offered myself but they didn’t want to speak to me.”
Read the full story in 2004 on Guardian, “Police censor fly-on-wall tale of gang life” – Acclaimed film dubbed a threat to Singapore’s national security.