The news came in yesterday, but the press release came out just today:
SINGAPORE 18 June 2015 – Tony Manero, the first of a trilogy of films by acclaimed Chilean director, Pablo Larraín and A German Youth by Jean-Gabriel Périot will be withdrawn from The O.P.E.N. due to edits required by the Media Development Authority. The films were scheduled for screening on 20 June 2015 (Tony Manero), 24 & 27 June 2015 (A German Youth) respectively.
The organisers extend its sincere apologies to O.P.E.N. Pass holders who have registered to view these two movies, and will be contacting each registrant. The remaining two movies by Pablo Larraín – Post Mortem and No, as well as the remaining 10 films, of which six are premiering the first time in Singapore, are not affected.
The two screenings of A German Youth will be replaced by additional screenings of Pablo Larraín’s Post Mortem on Wed 24 June at 7.30 pm and João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata’s The Last Time I Saw Macao on Sat 27 June at 3 pm.
There will be no replacement screening for Tony Manero.
Mayo Martin's article in TODAY is a little more specific about what was cut out:
The two scenes in question were a fellatio scene in Tony Manero and a scene featuring a video on how to make a Molotov cocktail in A German Youth. Both films had received an R21 rating on the condition that the scenes be edited.
In response to queries, an MDA spokesperson said that the MDA “does allow some leeway during classification of movies meant for festival screenings due to their niche nature. However, scenes with real sexual activities such as the one in Tony Manero exceed our existing Film Classification Guidelines for all ratings and screenings”.
Tony Manero, which was first shown in 2008, is the first in a trilogy of films by the award-winning director Larrain, which talks about life in Chile as a result of the military dictatorship of its late former leader Augusto Pinochet. The title is taken from John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever, with which the film’s protagonist has an obsession. The two other films in the trilogy, Post Mortem and No, will still be screened.
SIFA director Ong Keng Sen told TODAY: “The objection to the fellatio scene was that it was too graphic and extreme, but I told them it should be put into context on why people are behaving this way. It was about how violence and decadence has been imprinted in the human being.”
Meanwhile, A German Youth is a documentary that was shown at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. It traces the founding of the militant Red Army Faction and Baader-Meinhof Group.
Ong questioned the objection to the Molotov cocktail scene, citing how the information on making one is already available on the Internet. “I tried Googling how to make it and it’s all within the first four entries. We have to ask ourselves if these censorship guidelines are still applicable when all of these are available on the Internet,” he said.
Ong also questioned the decision for edits on films that were not slated for commercial release but instead for a festival, which will be screened in a small venue.
“The main issue is we don’t accept that it’s within our rights to demand from a film director to make these cuts. We would never request that and it’s something which is not in the etiquette of any film festival, which are meant to be a space for freedom, which commercial spaces cannot give,” he said.
The Projector has a seating capacity of 180 per screening. Viewers will have to purchase The OPEN’s festival pass to be able to sign up for the limited seats per movie screening. To date, more than 1,000 passes have been sold.
Members of the film community also weighed in. Singapore Film Society vice chairman David Lee urged for even more flexibility with regards to festival films. “For commercial release, perhaps I can understand. But for festivals such as The OPEN, I think more leeway is needed, especially since these are not amateur or pornographic films and they’ve been to other festivals and officially recognised by various practitioners. If (MDA) wants to make a distinction that targets the more sophisticated audiences that are there for arthouse films, then there should be very different standards,” he said.
Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) director Zhang Wenjie agreed that festivals should be a kind of “protected ground” for films. “In a lot of festivals around the world, there’s a kind of arrangement where, during the festival, everything is allowed. When we want to bring in a film that has been getting a lot of attention at other film festivals, and for some reason it has to be cut, can you really call the festival an international festival?” he said, adding that SGIFF has a strict policy of not showing films that would require cuts.
Last year, it withdrew the Filipino film Porno after it was rated R21 with cuts due to “sexual scenes and nudity”.