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Movie censorship in Philippines

Philippines censor bans and cuts

26th January

Painful Cuts...

Philippines censors ban Adolf Alix Jr's Chassis

Internationally-recognized Filipino writer-director Adolf Alix, Jr. has cried foul over the ban that the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) slapped on his latest opus, Chassis .

Known for his other works that include Aurora, Donsol, Kadin, Batanes and Tambolista , Alix said the MTRCB's decision stemmed from a scene showing lead actress Jodi Sta. Maria simulate the cutting of the penis of co-actor Paolo Rivero.

The reviewers want to remove and just 'establish' the ending but I think it is very vital for the character of Jodi, he said in a interview.

I will stand by showing it in its integral version because if the scene is taken in context, it was not shot to arouse prurient interest but rather as an act of revenge by the poor woman who was victimized, he added.

Alix has asked the board to reconsider its judgment.

Chassis is about a single mother's struggles amid the hardship of raising her child in an abandoned container van. It was among a handful of local films hailed in international film festivals including the Pusan International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina.


23rd September

Portrait of a Censor...

Philippines censors demand removal of president's portrait

A scene showing the picture of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the wall of a military office nearly earned a ban for an upcoming film about forced disappearances and human rights violations in the Philippines.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) approved the commercial run of Dukot, giving it an R-18 rating, after director Joel Lamangan agreed to cover Ms Arroyo's portrait, the Inquirer reported.

It was a struggle, Lamangan said in a phone interview: Both the MTRCB and the producers came up with a compromise that was acceptable to both parties. We only removed the close-up shot of President Macapagal-Arroyo's photo, but we retained her photos in the other shots.

Before it was covered using special effects, the President's picture could be seen mounted on the wall behind the desk of a military commander who was dealing with families looking for missing relatives.

The movie can still deliver its message even without the picture. The time frame is still clear that it's current, Dukot producer Dennis Evangelista said. There's also a [caption] showing that the story happened in 2005 (or during the Arroyo administration).

In a text message to the Inquirer, MTRCB Chair Consoliza Laguardia relayed what she said was a statement by one of the reviewers of the film: There was a compromise with the producer and the director because they agreed to cover the photo of President Arroyo in a close-up scene [where] parents of missing students were appealing to [an] Army colonel.


31st July

Update: Whingeing Censors...

Philippines censors get wound up by university showing of banned films

The move by the Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to stop Thursday's scheduled screening of Kinatay at the UP Film Institute was "not a personal attack" on its director, Brillante Mendoza, said censor chair Marissa Laguardia.

She said it was meant to check the state-run institution's practice of holding public screenings of banned "X"-rated films.

During a press conference on Tuesday night, Laguardia referred to an ongoing case between the board and the UP Film Institute that stemmed from the latter's showing of previously disapproved films like Adolf Alix Jr.'s Aurora , Lav Diaz's Death in the Land of the Encantos and Alejandro Bong Ramos' Butas .

Are they really showing ' Kinatay ' just to professors and critics? How many persons are expected to attend? The UP Film Institute representative we spoke with on Monday failed to answer these questions, Laguardia told Inquirer Entertainment.

She stressed that a film screening attended by at least 50 people is already considered a public exhibition-which makes the movie to be shown subject to classification. Citing the board's rules and regulations, Laguardia added that a movie slapped with an "X" rating is banned from public and commercial exhibition.

As late as Tuesday night, the chief censor noted, Centerstage/Swift Productions, the producers of Kinatay , had not filed a request for review.

Mendoza's movie debuted at the last Cannes International Film Festival in France, where he won the Best Director trophy. The UP screening was to be its local premiere.

Update: Kinatay Passed Uncut

11th August 2009. From

Cannes Film Festival Best Director for 2009 Brillante “Dante” Mendoza received an unexpected bonanza — a regular permit to show his Cannes film Kinatay without cuts in all venues from the MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board). Ironically, the controversial film may just have served as catalyst for the board to rethink its policies.

During the open forum that followed the UP screening, director Dante revealed that during the meeting he requested with MTRCB, he made it clear that he would have his film reviewed but would not allow any cuts on his film and would simply cancel the premiere screening should that be the case. After the MTRCB review, interestingly, he was given the green light. Kinatay is a dark grim look at the underworld where a drug dealer-prostitute is butchered by corrupt cops.

Update: Graphically dismembered

13th August 2009. From

Kinatay . Filipino director Brilliante Mendoza delivered what could be read as a searing indictment of his country's attitude towards women – or you could also see it as an ultra-violent film in which a woman is kidnapped, beaten, tortured, graphically dismembered, her body parts put into plastic bags and shoved on rubbish heaps outside Manila.


29th July

Update: Highlights...

Banned films get a film festival showing in the Philippines

Controversial and X-rated (banned) films were given a public exhibition because of the Netpac competition of the Cinemalaya film festiva at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) is composed of film critics from all over the world. Among the films vying for the Netpac prize are Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos' Walang Hanggang Paalam and Adolfo Alix Jr.'s Aurora , both rated X by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

Meanwhile, a third entry, Bayaw , created a buzz because of its full-frontal male nudity. A fourth Netpac film, Auraeus Solito's Boy , was banned in Singapore because of a long gay love scene as well.

Villaluna said that the film's journey from censorship to the CCP was long and arduous. It makes you realize that filmmaking has become a struggle in this country. It's frustrating ... but we are totally relieved to premiere at the CCP.

Update: Bayaw Banned

31st August 2009. See article from

The indie film Bayaw , was banned (Rated X) when the Movie and Television Review & Classification Board (MTRCB) reviewed it on August 27.

Bayaw will be submitted again to the MTRCB for a second review on September 1. The people behind this production are all hoping that it will be approved for exhibition, with minimal cuts or no cuts at all, in time for its showing. The film, produced by Climax Films and directed by Monti Parungao (Sagwan), is scheduled to open on September 2 in selected theaters nationwide.


5th May

Update: Aurora of Censorship...

Philippines censor whinges at university showing of banned film

Philippine's Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has asked the director of the film, Aurora , to explain why the uncut version of the movie was shown at the University of the Philippines without the permission from the board.

The independent movie was banned as unfit for public viewing by the MTRCB but it was shown just the same at the UP Film Institute (UPFI) Cine Adarna in January.

The MTRCB said the film was screened for commercial gain and without the corresponding permit to exhibit from the body. The MTRCB has already instructed director Adolf Alix Jr. to submit his counter-affidavit to explain his side.

Filmmaker Sean Lim, the representative of Oxin Entertainment, had already submitted his counter-affidavit to the MTRCB. Oxin Entertainment is the company that released Aurora. Lim, in his written testimony, said the film was part of an educational screening at the UPFI and the scheduled showing was under the pretext of the state university’s aim in promoting academic freedom.


25th December

Aurora of Censorship...

Philippines bans Aurora movie

The comeback movie of Rosanna Roces still cannot be shown to the public because the film has received another ban (X rating) from the Movie Television Review and Classification Board's (MTRCB).

The reviewers wrote in their report that controversial scenes are not fit for public viewing.

Aurora, directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr., tells the plight of a social worker who tries to escape in the middle of the forest after being kidnapped by members of the Lost Command.

The lead female character, played by Rosanna, will be raped by Kristofer King in the middle of a forest.  Members of the MTRCB want to shorten the said rape scene.

Philippine Entertainment Portal reported earlier that the said scene was deemed too explicit, resulting in a ban during the first review of the film.

The director did not change anything in the film for the second review of Aurora. I stand by my cut of the film, he adds. He will appeal the decision at Malacañang and request for a final review.


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