Colman Domingo
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Brokeback for Malaysia

A film
distributor in mostly Muslim Malaysia—where movies on
sensitive issues are often banned—will steer
clear of Brokeback Mountain but try to show
Munich. United International Pictures, which has
distribution rights for both movies, said Thursday it will
apply to Malaysia's state-run Film Censorship board
for approval of Steven Spielberg's Munich,
which depicts the aftermath of the massacre of Israeli
athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Because of Malaysia's
Muslim majority population, the government is cautious
about Israeli and Jewish topics. It initially banned
Schindler's List, Spielberg's Oscar-winning epic
on the World War II holocaust.

UIP, however,
will not even apply for approval of Brokeback
, director Ang Lee's award-winning gay
cowboy romance, said UIP publicity manager Dawn Liew.
"We believe there is a market for Munich here,
but Brokeback Mountain is definitely not going
to make it here because its themes wouldn't be right for our
local audiences," Liew told the Associated Press.
Brokeback Mountain, about two cowboys who
discover romantic feelings for each other, has swept critics
awards in the United States over the past month and is
widely expected to be a leading contender at this
year's Academy Awards.

Malaysian censors
banned Schindler's List in 1993, calling it
Zionist propaganda. They later lifted the ban following
public appeals but said scenes with nudity and violence must
be cut. The film was never screened in Malaysia
because Spielberg insisted it be shown in its
entirety. Other high-profile movies that have been banned
include The Prince of Egypt, an animated epic
on Moses, which was deemed "insensitive for religious
reasons," and Ben Stiller's spy spoof
Zoolander, which portrays a plot to assassinate
a Malaysian prime minister.

Munich has drawn attention for Spielberg's
re-creation of Israel's campaign to hunt down members of a
Palestinian group that killed 11 Israeli athletes at
the 1972 Summer Olympics; some Jews have criticized
Munich for what they call its sympathetic
treatment of Arab extremists. UIP wants to start showing
Munich in Malaysia on April 13 and hopes it
won't be banned, because "it has a balanced point of view,
with the message that violence is wrong," Liew said.
Senior officials at the censorship board were not
immediately available for comment.

Last year the
government allowed Mel Gibson's The Passion of the
to be shown, but Muslims—who make
up some 60% of Malaysia's 26 million
people—were barred from screenings. (Malaysia's
population also includes Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu
minorities.) (Sean Yoong, AP)

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