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Indian Censors Hold Up
'Fahrenheit 9/11'

By Indo-Asian News Service

06 October, 2004 by the
Indo-Asian News Service

NEW DELHI - Film activists in the Indian capital have strongly protested the country's censors holding up release of the award-winning documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11".

"Fahrenheit 9/11", vehemently anti-US President George W. Bush, won the Palme Ór best film award at Cannes this year. It can be downloaded off the Net and its pirated copies are available across the country.

"The censor board takes these senseless decisions because as a body it is irrelevant and completely behind times," said Shuddhabrata Sengupta at Sarai, the media and research foundation.

"The censor board itself should be done away with," Sengupta, a researcher on issues of censorship, told IANS.

The Michael Moore film, which has become a pillar of the Democratic presidential campaign, was supposed to be released in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Pune on Oct 15.

But the film, which has been running in the US for more than three months, has now been sent to a revising committee.

"It is silly that a film that is running without a hitch in the US, whose president it portrays in so negative a light, is having problems in India," Sengupta added.

Several reasons are being offered on why the censors are worried about the film. One of them is to avoid offending the American authorities.

But experts say if that's the reason, scores of Bollywood movies that show neighbouring Pakistan as archenemy should never have been released.

"If the censors are so worried about keeping good ties with all countries, how come they never react when Pakistan is abused and Pakistanis shown as villains by Bollywood films?" reasoned documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy.

Roy was part of a team of filmmakers who organised a major festival against censorship last month, which had Booker award-winning author and activist Arundhati Roy as a speaker.

Filmmakers in India have for long protested against the censor board and the Films for Freedom, a platform of over 300 independent documentary and short filmmakers, are campaigning for abolition of censorship.

"I don't really understand what the censors are trying to do," said Sengupta. "If they are trying to stop people from watching the film, that's not possible.

"Michael Moore himself has said that people should download it from all sources and watch it. Basically, this sort of immature behaviour must stop."









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