Banned Films

A list of international films banned in the 21st century


3.50

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3.50 is a 2013 Cambodia/Singapore crime thriller by Chhay Bora.
With Doung Cheanick, Leang Honglee and Eunice Olsen. YouTube icon IMDb

Cambodia: Banned

See  article from  phnompenhpost.com :

Filmmaker Chhay Bora, who directed the yet-to-be released 3.50 , said that the censorship board has never explained to him their grounds for evaluating movies.

It's like walking in the jungle with no road map to follow, said Bora, whose film on sex trafficking was supposed to be released last October but never received final approval. Although his script was approved, Bora said that the censorship board has failed to reach a verdict on the final version. No specific cuts have been ordered by the ministry, he said, but feedback he received suggested that censorship board members were concerned about the movie's heavy social commentary.

The Ministry of Culture film department said they didn't ban the film, but they didn't grant the licence yet, said Bora, adding that although the film's dialogue did not seem to cause controversy, the censorship board expressed concern over not less than 10 shots. Some of the criticism, Bora said, was over shots that the board claimed represented Cambodia in a bad light, such as a taxi driver throwing a cigarette out the window and a scene within the impoverished White Building community on Sothearos Boulevard.

Bora also said that other scenes were too political for the censors' comfort, such as a shot of a character walking down a dusty road with Prime Minister Hun Sen's office visible in the background.

Bora also said that the board insisted that all plot conflicts be resolved before the credits roll. In particular one of his characters, after escaping a brothel, is last seen joining a group of other former sex workers instead of trying to return home. Her ultimate fate is never revealed, but the possibility of her returning to sex work is not ruled out.

The censors said: why don't you find a solution for her, to find an NGO or new job? And I said that's not my job. The filmmaker has no possibility to solve the social problem.

Summary Notes

When a young Cambodian village girl is sold off into prostitution, a brash American documentary filmmaker ventures deep into the underbelly of Phnom Penh to pursue her story and rescue the girl, crossing paths with various other lives affected by the unspeakable terrain of the country's virginity trade.

21 Months of Hell

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21 Months of Hell is a 2017 documentary by Yadu Vijayakrishnan.   IMDb

India: Banned in January 2018

A documentary about India's Emergency , titled 21 Months of Hell , has been banned by Kerala's regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The director Yadu Vijayakrishnan told PTI that the documentary mainly features interviews of victims of the Emergency along with the re-enactment of scenes of the alleged tortures methods recreated with actors

Vijayakrishnan said the CBFC asked for proof of the torture methods used by the police during the Emergency. Though there are testimonies of surviving victims and case reports, the Board wanted written government proof of the torture methods of that time. And of course the government is hardy likely to allow public access to records proving its own recourse to torture.

Summary Review

In June 25th 1975, Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi declared Emergency on the nation which bestowed her the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed. This resulted in the mass arrests of leaders and activists of opposition who she saw as a threat to her political life. With the introduction of the new law MISA(Maintenance of Internal Security Act), anyone could be arrested without fair trial or evidences. Making use of the political atmosphere and direct orders from the government, the police department exercised their aggression at free will. For the pro-democracy activists, India became a literal hell from the day of declaration of the Emergency until its withdrawal 21 months later. The documentary '21 Months of Hell' explores the ingenious torture method administered by the Police for intimidating political prisoners at that time. With the real life accounts of surviving victims of the torture.

300

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300 is a 2006 USA action fantasy by Zack Snyder.
Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey and David Wenham. IMDb

Iran: Banned

From IMDb. Shortly after its release, Iranian bloggers and journalists were outraged by the movie. With headlines like Hollywood Declares War on Iranians, they chastised the movie for its monstrous portrayal of the ancient Persians, ancestors of modern Iranians. A cultural adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called it American psychological warfare against Iran. The film ended up duly being banned, seemingly as the Iranian authorities found it insulting that their forebears were outsmarted by Greeks.

Summary Notes

In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes led a Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans. Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw but left with no options he pushed forward. After 3 days of battle all the Greeks were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes that the separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks, was not as heavily guarded as they thought.

Availability

UK: Passed 15 uncut for:
2012

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2012 is a 2009 USA action Sci-Fi adventure by Roland Emmerich.
Starring John Cusack, Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor. IMDb

North Korea: Banned

The year 2012 coincided with Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday. Authorities in Pyongyang feared that the movie, in which the Earth is obliterated by a series of massive natural disasters, could jinx this auspicious year and so it was duly banned.

Summary Notes

Dr. Adrian Helmsley, part of a worldwide geophysical team investigating the effect on the earth of radiation from unprecedented solar storms, learns that the earth's core is heating up. He warns U.S. President Thomas Wilson that the crust of the earth is becoming unstable and that without proper preparations for saving a fraction of the world's population, the entire race is doomed. Meanwhile, writer Jackson Curtis stumbles on the same information. While the world's leaders race to build "arks" to escape the impending cataclysm, Curtis struggles to find a way to save his family. Meanwhile, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes of unprecedented strength wreak havoc around the world.

A Ma Soeur!

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  • Fat Girl
  • A mia sorella
  • For my Sister

A Ma Soeur! is a 2001 French/Italian/Spanish drama by Catherine Breillat.
With Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida and Libero De Rienzo. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

Passed 18 uncut by the BBFC for cinema but was cut for DVD. Uncut and MPAA Unrated in the US. Banned by the Canadian province of Ontario from 2001 until 2003.

Canada: Unbanned in Ontario in 2003

After the retirement of the veteran film censor Robert Warren, the board agreed to have Fat Girl resubmitted and approved for screening unedited. The board no longer wished to get into a constitutional fight over the powers of the board.

Canada: Banned in Ontario in 2001

The Ontario Film Review Board rejected the film for distribution under the provincial Theatres Act that prohibits the depiction of sex-related nudity involving someone who is underaged or appears to be underaged.

The film was shown uncensored in other Canadian provinces.

The distributors then initiated a legal action against Ontario contending that the ban was unconstitutional. The distributors contended that: the power to ban movies is an unjustifiable infringement of the fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Availability

UK : Passed 18 uncut for:
  • 2001 cinema release

US: Uncut and MPAA Unrated for:

The Adventure of a Married Couple

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  • Zan va shohar Karegar

Zan va shohar Karegar is a 2013 Iran family drama short by Keywan Karimi.
Starring Bamdad Afshar, Mohammad Akhari and Anahita Iravani. IMDb

Iran: Banned in February 2016 with the filmmaker being jailed

Keywan Karimi was jailed for 1 year (reduced from 3 years on appeal) with 233 lashes.  The authorities felt that his movies depicting grim daily lives in Iran 'insulted sanctities".

Summary Notes

Couples who are living together both work to make their ends meet. The man works night shifts from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the woman works during the day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. they have to work all week even on weekends and whenever one of them comes home the other should get ready to leave home.

Among the Believers

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Among the Believers is a 2015 Pakistan / USA war biography by Mohammed Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi.
Starring Fedor Alexandrovich. IMDb

Pakistan: Banned from Face film festival in April 2016

The film censors claimed the film was unsuitable for public exhibition because:

It contains dialogues, which project a negative image of Pakistan in the context of fighting the ongoing war against extremism and terrorism.

Summary Notes

Controversial Pakistani cleric Maulana Aziz, linked to the Taliban, declares jihad against the government to impose sharia law. The government retaliates by destroying his seminary, killing his mother, brother, his only son and 150 students. The film follows charming yet menacing Maulana Aziz on his personal quest to create an Islamic utopia, which causes the country to implode. The Red Mosque has students allied with ISIL, and strong ties to the Taliban. We meet two Red Mosque students whose paths diverge: Talha, 12, leaves his moderate Muslim family to study to be a jihadi preacher. Zarina, also 12, escapes her madrassa and joins a normal school. Her education is threatened by frequent Taliban attacks on schools like her own. In December, 2014, the Taliban massacred 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar, outraging Pakistan's moderate majority. Aziz's longtime opponent, education reformer Pervez Hoodbhoy joins the re-energized anti-extremist movement. Throughout the film, he passionately ...

Annabelle 2

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  • Annabelle: Creation
Annabelle 2 is a 2017 USA horror mystery thriller by David F Sandberg.
Starring Miranda Otto, Philippa Coulthard and Stephanie Sigman. IMDb

Lebanon: Banned in August 2017

The movie was reportedly screened for the General Security's Censorship Bureau earlier in the month and then was passed on to the censorship committee. Annahar reported that Catholic Priests Fr. Abdu Abu Kasm and Fr. Athanasius Shahwan were both present at the censorship committee's screening. Father Shahwan had the final word and he demanded that the film be blocked over scenes that are considered offensive to Christian faith.

The specific scenes in question were not mentioned but many believe the objection comes from the fact that nuns are the ones being victimized in the movie's plot.

Summary Notes

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker's possessed creation, Annabelle.

Antichrist

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  • Antychryst
Antichrist is a 2009 Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland drama by Lars Von Trier.
With Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

France: Banned in February 2016

Promouvoir, an extremist Catholic pressure group initiated a court case some time ago claiming that the films local 16 rating was incorrect and that the film should be restricted to adults only. The moralists won the case and the court agreed that the film is unsuitable for under 18 and revoked the film's 16 certificate.

Until the film can be re-rated, it is banned from cinema and TV

The BBFC explained some of the censorship issues when issuing an uncut 18 rating:

At '18', the BBFC's Guidelines state that the more explicit images of sexual activity are unlikely to be permitted unless they can be exceptionally justified by context and the work is not a 'sex work'. A 'sex work' is defined as a work whose 'primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation'. It is clear that ANTICHRIST is not a 'sex work' but a serious drama exploring issues such as grief, loss, guilt and fear.

The brief images of explicit real sex (sight of a penis penetrating a vagina during a consensual sex scene and sight of the man's penis being masturbated to climax) are exceptionally justified, in this context, by the manner in which they illustrate the film's themes and the nature of the couple's relationship. Their relationship is depicted throughout in a graphic and unflinching fashion, both psychologically and physically.

The BBFC has permitted comparable explicit images in a number of previous features at the '18' level (eg L'EMPIRE DES SENS, 9 SONGS, SHORTBUS and Lars von Trier's earlier film, THE IDIOTS) where it has been clear that the purpose of the work - and the individual images in question - is not simply to arouse viewers but to illustrate characters, relationships and themes.

Note that the hardcore shots are inserted into the sex scenes and are attributed to body doubles Horst Stramka and Mandy Starship.

Availability

UK: Passed 18 uncut for strong real sex, bloody violence and self-mutilation for:

US: Uncut and MPAA Unrated for:

Arpat

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  • Apatti
Arpat is a 2015 Thai horror film
The film featured an errant monk, a commonplace issue in Thailand, and so the censors decided that the depiction of errant monks somehow threaten buddhism. The film was initially banned because it might create unnecessary conflicts in society if the committee had let it pass.

The film censors later passed the film 18+ after scenes showing errant behaviour by the monk were cut.

  News, September 2016: Oscars

The Buddhist-themed horror film Arpat has been renamed to Apatti and has now been submitted as Thailand's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars, the committee of the Federation of Thai Film Associations has announced.
The Attack

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The Attack is a 2012 Lebanon/France/Qatar/Belgium drama by Ziad Doueiri.
With Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena, Reymond Amsalem. YouTube icon IMDb

Lebanon: Banned in 2013

Banned because its Lebanese director shot part of the movie in Israel and used Israeli actors.

Summary Review: Aftermath of a Suicide Attack

An Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv discovers a dark secret about his wife in the aftermath of a suicide bombing. Based on a novel by Yasmina Khadra.

The Attack won the Special Jury Award at the 2012 San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain and the Golden Star at Morocco's Marrakesh Film Festival.

Availability

US: Uncut and MPAA R rated for:
The Attacks of 26/11

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The Attacks of 26/11 is a 2013 India drama by Ram Gopal Varma.
With Nana Patekar, Atul Kulkarni. IMDb

UAE: Banned

 

 


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