Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What You Get Is What You See

Thai filmmakers and cinemagoers are still fighting for their rights, while we over here have long resigned ourselves to our fate of seeing butchered films with a ratings system. There has sadly been no concerted effort by our filmmakers to demand a change to the rules and regulations like Apichatpong Weerasethakul and friends have, but so far in the last couple of years, our Censorship Board has shown incredible restraint with the scissors. And we've even gotten to see some films which would never have made it to the screens before this. Still, the situation is far from perfect.

I think we can all still recall the fiasco surrounding Tsai Ming-liang's I Don't Want To Sleep Alone earlier this year.

But down there in Singapore, it's an altogether different scenario. Although the Singapore censors are far more lenient compared to ours, it's the distributors who seem to be exploiting the situation, as some movie-goers have claimed. The latest case was Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, which earned an NC-16 rating. But the distributors released both the edited version (ala mainland China, sans sex scenes) and the uncut version, acrobatic sex and all. The latter was released with an R21 rating.

But the fact that the distributor released the cut version first, followed some time later by the uncut version, was what angered many Singaporeans and started the accusations that the distributor was trying to exploit them, by fooling them into seeing the NC-16 version, then luring them back for seven to nine minutes of added footage later. These are allegations but some people were pissed off enough to call for a boycott of the R21 release, preferring to make a stand in lieu of chiropractic erotica.

As for me, I used to travel down to Singapore for films that were never released in Malaysia. I still do, but not as often anymore. Although we have more releases than before, with some films opening even earlier than in Singapore, they still have a lot more going on down south. There seems to be a lot of screenings and special events at the National Museum and other venues, almost every month. Recently, there was a special 35mm screening of King Hu's Touch Of Zen, and then the Animation Nation festival, including a showing of Tekkonkinkreet.

But there was one experience that reminded me to be extra cautious about going into a cinema in Singapore. Some years ago, I arrived in Singapore on a late afternoon, and in a daze from lack of sleep, walked into the Eng Wah cineplex in Suntec City, bought a ticket for Infernal Affairs 2, got comfy in the seat, and ... to my horror, Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang spoke in Mandarin and in weird voices from Dubbing Hell!

I decided to catch some sleep instead, and dozed off right there in my seat.

COPYRIGHT POLICY: It's simple: Steal my stuff and I'll kick you in the nuts