Bangladesh court imposes 6-month ban on movie on Rana Plaza factory disaster

Cranes operated by Bangladeshi Army personnel at the scene following the collapse of Rana Plaza.
Cranes operated by Bangladeshi Army personnel at the scene following the collapse of Rana Plaza. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (AFP) - A top court in Bangladesh Monday banned a movie depicting one of the world's worst industrial disasters for six months amid concerns that it would "negatively portray" the nation's $25 billion garment industry.

Two High Court judges gave the order, saying the movie, Rana Plaza, named after the ill-fated factory complex, breached a previous order by the same court by screening gruesome images of the disaster that killed 1,138 people in 2013.

"The court heard a writ filed by a labour group and banned screening of the film in the country and overseas for six months," Deputy Attorney General Mokleshur Rahman told AFP.

"The judges imposed the ban following concerns that it would negatively portray Bangladesh's sensitive garment sector in the world and can also create (a) law and order problem in the country," he added.

Bangladesh's garment industry is worth US$25 billion (S$35 million) a year in exports.

The 137-minute film was scheduled to hit more than 100 theatres across the country on Sept 4 after it got clearance from the Bangladesh Film Censor Board in July.

It centres on the dramatic rescue of 19-year-old garment worker Reshma Akhter from the ruins of the nine-storey Rana Plaza 17 days after it collapsed.

Images of Akhter, dusty and dazed, being pulled from the wreckage appeared on newspaper front pages worldwide and turned her into a national heroine.

Akhter has since married her boyfriend and found a well-paid job at a hotel run by the international chain Westin, which approached her after her ordeal.

"The Rana Plaza is also about Reshma's love story, which tries to raise awareness about the life of the country's millions of woman garment workers," director of the movie Nazrul Islam Khan told AFP.

"I don't know what prompted the court to ban the film. Rana Plaza movie is about the tragedy at the factory complex," he said, adding he would appeal as he had already cut the scenes that were deemed to be "too cruel" by the censors.