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Singapore film
festival pulls local movie after gay sex scenes censored

Singapore film
festival pulls local movie after gay sex scenes censored

A Singaporean movie about a homosexual relationship between a teacher and his 18-year-old student has been pulled from a film festival after government censors said sex scenes from the film had to be cut.

Organizers of the Singapore International Film Festival and producers of Solos said Monday the film would be withdrawn from public screening, in line with the festival's policy of showing only uncensored films.

The festival opened April 18 and runs through April 30. Solos was originally scheduled to be screened on Wednesday.

The film received an R21 rating, which restricts it to audiences over age 21, with three cuts from the Singapore Board of Film Censors, said Florence Ang, the film's producer.

The board said in a statement that the film contained "prolonged and explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes including scenes of oral sex and threesome sex," which had to be removed.

The cuts make up about five minutes of the 77-minute film, Ang said.

She said the filmmakers had not expected the censors to demand the cuts as the 20-year-old festival, which is seen as catering to a relatively limited niche audience, has previously screened movies she said were more graphic.

"I was actually prepared that we may have had cuts if we wanted to organize a commercial screening, but I didn't expect that for the festival itself," Ang said.

Sex between gay men, even among consenting adults, is defined in Singapore as "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. There have been few prosecutions, however.

Solos will be screened without edits to a private jury for the festival's Silver Screen awards, which honors Asian works, Ang said, adding that she will appeal to the board of censors to reduce the number of cuts for a possible commercial screening later in the year.

Another film that was withdrawn from the festival was Princess, an animated feature by Danish director Anders Morgenthaler about a priest on a crusade against those who abused his sister, who was a porn star before her death. Censors said a scene that depicts "a porn star in a nun's habit, with a cross protruding from her behind" had to go because it was religiously offensive.

Singapore has in recent years relaxed some censorship regulations for films and plays in an effort to market itself as a media and arts center. But controls on media and filmmakers, on the whole, remain tight.

Authorities two weeks ago banned a documentary about the 17-year detention of a former left-wing activist in Singapore because its "distorted and misleading" portrayal of the events could undermine confidence in the government. (Derrick Ho, AP)

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