Singapore film banned in Malaysia because of cultural sensitivities

Fundamentally Happy, which stars Adibah Noor and Joshua Lim
Fundamentally Happy, which stars Adibah Noor and Joshua Lim PHOTO: 13 LITTLE PICTURES

SINGAPORE - Singaporean film Fundamentally Happy, about a reunion between a young Chinese man and an elderly Malay woman who were once neighbours, has been banned from Malaysian cinemas due to cultural sensitivities.

According to the film-makers, the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF) said that the film contains "elements that may be sensitive to the feelings of Malaysian Malays and may be interpreted by Malaysian Malays as an attempt to reflect the community's attitude towards those who abuse the weak to fulfil their desires".

In the film, the happy reunion between the neighbours soon leads to allegations of child abuse in the past which may or may not have happened.

The play of the same name that the film is based on was staged in 2007 in Kuala Lumpur at The Actor's Studio, without any cuts, advisory or rating.

Haresh Sharma wrote the 2006 play, which won Best Script and Best Production at the Life Theatre Awards.

Singapore film-makers Tan Bee Thiam and Lei Yuan Bin adapted it for the screen last year. While it has not been released here commercially, it has been screened at events and festivals.

It will next be screened at *Scape on Nov 5. The session will be followed by a Q&A with director Tan and leading man Joshua Lim.

In a Facebook post uploaded by the Fundamentally Happy film production team on Thursday (Oct 20), it wrote: "We are deeply disappointed that our Malaysian audience is being denied the opportunity to watch Fundamentally Happy in the cinema.

"This film was based on an award-winning play that was a result of months of research and consultation with the community. The play and the film are, above all, works of social relevance and compassion. We were hoping to share this film with our audience in Malaysia so that we could have a conversation on the important issues brought up by the film."

The film-makers are considering appealing the decision.