Filmmakers slam review board’s X-rating for ‘Rights’ film

Media group joins condemnation of ‘censorship’

By Jeannette Andrade
Last updated 07:52pm (Mla time) 09/21/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Two men struggle through tall grass, running away. The unseen man with the camera, trailing the other in red, prods: “Takbo, Juan. Takbo [Run, Juan. Run]!”

They run to a clearing, gunshots ring out. Juan falls on the ground. The unseen companion desperately shouts: “Huwag kayo magpaputok [Don’t shoot]!” as he runs towards his fallen comrade.

Again gunshots, and the unseen cameraman falls. His last vision, Juan’s red shirt before the screen blackens and is replaced by the glaring words: “Stop the killing of activists and journalists.”

A crooning Jose Maria Sison, featured on a skewed screen, and the message that everything depends on how people perceive things. Flashes of torture and other forms of human rights violations committed by persons in authority.

All these earned 13 independent filmmakers an X-rating from the Movie, Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) for their collection dubbed, “Rights” with the short film creators insisting that they were simply presenting facts that do not deserve censorship.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) joined its voice to the filmmakers’ in condemning the MTRCB’s “move to censor” the short films , with secretary general Rowena Paraan urging “our friends in media two protest this violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to free expression.”

Among the banned shorts, said Paraan, is “The Good News,” which is about press freedom.

Acclaimed director Carlito Siguion-Reyna on Friday expressed support for the independent film makers, calling for the amendment of the law creating the MTRCB, Presidential Decree 1986, which he claimed is a remnant of martial law.

“X is simply censorship. They are hiding behind the semantics of classification,” Siguion-Reyna said of the MTRCB.

“There are no visible acts of violence. They are all criticism of government policy. This is a form of legitimate airing of grievances. They [independent filmmakers] should be given the same space as any editorial in the newspaper,” he pointed out.

Independent film maker Sunshine Matutina said: “Our attempts to effect change should not be curtailed. The MTRCB is preventing us from expressing artistically how we feel about the situation. It is wrong that there is this body who can tell people that it [a film] is not for public viewing.”

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