Singapore International Festival of Arts removes two films from pre-festival The O.P.E.N.

Two foreign films scheduled to be shown in the prelude to the Singapore International Festival of Arts have been pulled out, after the Media Development Authority (MDA) required scenes with sexual and mature content to be cut before screening.

Tony Manero (2008) by Chilean director Pablo Larrain and A German Youth (2015) by French film-maker Jean-Gabriel Periot will be withdrawn from The O.P.E.N., a pre-festival engagement programme, because festival organisers rejected the edits by MDA.

Those who have already purchased the $45 passes to The O.P.E.N, which includes talks and screenings for the two movies, can no longer register to watch the two films.

In response to queries from Life!, an MDA spokesman said that the authority "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."

Festival director Ong Keng Sen said: "Singapore International Festival of Arts believe in respecting the integrity of the directors' vision and craft. We will not screen a film with edits.

"We are upholding the festival, in line with international standards, as a space of freedom of expression, which is different from a commercial release. Sadly, our audience will have to see these films abroad."

All films and videos distributed and exhibited here must be certified by MDA. Both films, to be shown for the first time here, were rated R21 and each required an edit before they can be screened for the festival.

The organisers felt that the oral sex scene in Tony Manero, which is set in the period when Chile was ruled by military dictator Augusto Pinochet, is "necessary in the context of the film".

For A German Youth, the edit for mature content - in a scene depicting how to make a Molotov cocktail - was rejected by the organisers as they felt "the objectionable scene contains general knowledge which is immediately and readily accessible on the Internet".

Tony Manero was scheduled for screening on June 20, while A German Youth was to be shown on June 24 and 27. The other 12 films in the line-up are not affected.

The two screenings of A German Youth will be replaced by additional screenings of Larrain's Post Mortem (2010) on June 24, and Joao Pedro Rodrigues and Joao Rui Guerra da Mata's The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012) on June 27. There will be no replacement screening for Tony Manero.

mzlim@sph.com.sg