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Govt pulls critical movie off screen

Govt pulls critical movie off screen

A popular Cambodian movie has been banned by the government after showing for 11

days at a Phnom Penh cinema.

The Vimean Tip cinema was ordered to drop the movie, which was being screened

three times a day, and pull down a sign advertising it on Feb. 11.

The movie, entitled The Three Worlds (representing earth, heaven and hell),

is a comedy critical of the government and of Vietnamese in Cambodia.

Director Kiet Thao said the film had received a good response from viewers

"because our story was not about love but about the real being of our people in

this current society."

Government officials, he said, told him they believed the movie had been

supported by a political party because of its content and because it was

initially screened for free.

Kiet Thao said that at the film's first few screenings, he had let teachers,

students, journalists, policemen and soldiers to see the movie for free.

"I did that because teachers get low salaries, and students don't have much

money for tickets. Traditionally, soldiers and policemen have long been allowed

to see films free."

He allowed journalists to watch the film free to help publicize it.

Thao said he had received no political funding for the $10,000

production.

"The government should have penalized us rather than close the movie down if

we made a mistake," he said, adding that he held little hope of being allowed to

re-screen the film.

Bun Narith, spokesman for the government's Video and Film Department-which

censors films- said the movie had been stopped because Thao did not honor his

contract with the department.

He said the film producer had screened the original copy of the movie,

instead of a version cut and approved by the department.

Thao denied that, saying he had only used the original version when two

amended copies of it had been ruined. He said he had got the department's

permission to do so.

The movie is critical of corrupt government officials, the government's

performance and the state of Cambodian society.

In one scene critical of criminally accused paying off judges, a journalist,

seeing a thief being released from a court, asks: "Why is the thief the same man

[who has been] arrested before?"

"Because the judge is also the same man," the thief replies.

The film also refers to Vietnamese settlers in Cambodia and paints a picture

of them, as well as Thais, taking over the best houses.

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