PG13 rating appeal by film-maker dismissed

The Films Appeal Committee (FAC), an independent panel, has dismissed film-maker Jason Soo's appeal for a PG13 rating for his documentary on detainees arrested in 1987 over an alleged Marxist plot.

The documentary, 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy, had been given an R21 rating by the Media Development Authority (MDA).

The FAC, in upholding the R21 rating, told Mr Soo in a June 8 letter that the film was a one-sided account of the events.

"The selective use of excerpts from newspaper reports and television programmes featured in the film did not provide a balanced account of history. Instead, they appeared to reinforce the one-sided narrative of the former detainees," it said.

"As maturity was needed to understand the context within which the information was being presented, the FAC felt that the film would be more appropriate for mature viewers above 21 years old."

The film features interviews with former detainees of Operation Spectrum in 1987, in which 22 people were rounded up under the Internal Security Act over an alleged Marxist plot to overthrow the Government.

It was first given an R21 rating for a one-time screening at the Freedom Film Festival here last November. Mr Soo then made a fresh application for a rating last December for future screenings, and the MDA in April gave it an R21 rating.

When giving the R21 rating, the MDA said that "maturity will be required to understand the historical and socio-political circumstances surrounding the incident, and to discern that the film presents a perspective by the detainees".

Mr Soo met the FAC last month to ask for a PG13 rating instead.

His film, he said, presents "the established narrative of Operation Spectrum, as well as alternative stories of what happened".

It has interviews with former detainees and archival material from the mainstream media for balance, he said.

Mr Soo, 40, told The Straits Times yesterday he was disappointed with the decision.

"I won't consider editing and resubmitting as I would rather focus on the full- length version. That should be completed by the end of this year, " he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'PG13 rating appeal by film-maker dismissed'. Subscribe