IMDA bans film on Palestine-Israeli conflict, citing its 'skewed narrative'

Radiance of Resistance, explores the Palestine-Israeli conflict through the eyes of nine-year-old Janna Ayyad and Ahed Tamimi,14, two young female Palestinians living under military occupation in Nabi Saleh, Palestine.
Radiance of Resistance, explores the Palestine-Israeli conflict through the eyes of nine-year-old Janna Ayyad and Ahed Tamimi,14, two young female Palestinians living under military occupation in Nabi Saleh, Palestine. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/RADIANCE OF RESISTANCE

SINGAPORE - A documentary film that was due to be shown at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival on Thursday (Jan 4) has been banned from public screening by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) for its "skewed narrative".

The IMDA gave Radiance Of Resistance a rare Not Allowed For All Ratings (NAR) classification, over concerns that the film may cause disharmony among different races and religions in Singapore.

Independent cinema The Projector, which is hosting the second edition of the film festival, posted on its website that the film screening has been cancelled.

Radiance Of Resistance, directed by American film-maker Jesse Roberts, explores the Israeli-Palestine conflict through the eyes of nine-year-old Janna Ayyad and Ahed Tamimi, 14, two young female Palestinians living under military occupation in Nabi Saleh, Palestine.

The 2016 documentary won the Best Documentary award at the Respect Human Rights Festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

According to the IMDA website, the one-hour film was banned from public screening and distribution here as it explores the Israeli-Palestine conflict "without counterbalance".

"The documentary focuses on the Tamimi family, and two young girls, who are presented as the new faces of Palestinian resistance. In holding up the girls as role models to be emulated in an ongoing conflict, the film incites activists to continue their resistance against the alleged oppressors," said the IMDA.

The IMDA added that the film was classified in accordance with guidelines, which state "films that create misunderstanding or disharmony amongst the races" will not be allowed for all ratings.

Cases of films being given NAR classification are rare.

In 2014, Singapore film-maker Tan Pin Pin's documentary To Singapore, With Love was also given a NAR classification as the then-Media Development Authority said Tan's sympathetic portrayal of the exiles legitimised violence and subversion in politics.

A 35-second promotional clip featuring footage from the 2014 edition of annual gay rights rally Pink Dot also received a Not Allowed For All Ratings classification in 2015.

Ms Adela Foo, organiser of the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival (SPFF), said she was "disappointed" with IMDA's decision, but will not be appealing against the classification, given time constraints.

"I think this was a really interesting film to show but I also understand the concerns, given the current political situation," she said.

The Projector's synopsis of the film says that it "takes an intimate look at their everyday lives and their importance as the new generation of Palestinian non-violent resistance".

Customers who bought tickets to Radiance Of Resistance have been contacted and fully refunded, said the Projector's co-founder and general manager Sharon Tan.

"We respect IMDA's decision on the classification of this film," she added.

The Israeli-Palestine conflict has been in the spotlight following US President Donald Trump's decision last month to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel , and to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Israel considers Jerusalem its capital and wants all embassies to be based there, while Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state in the east of the city.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reaffirmed the country's longstanding and consistent support for a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.