Wednesday, December 19, 2007

US Censors Movie Poster

The poster for the winner of a number of prestigous "best documentary" awards has been censored by the MPAA. The film tells the story of an Afghan taxi driver arrested on false charges and later killed there. The image can be seen above. As you can see, there is no blood, no torture - like the horror flic billboards allowed everywhere over the summer. There is simply an REAL image of 2 GIs escorting a detainee in the way our regulations advise = hooded. There should darn well be a shit storm about this, but we will see. Americans don't like to beleive their is censorhip in the "freeest country in the world" but alas, further proof is before us. Shame on the MPAA.

The MPAA has rejected the one-sheet for Alex Gibney's documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side," which traces the pattern of torture practice from Afghanistan's Bagram prison to Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay.
ThinkFilm opens the pic, which is on the Oscar shortlist of 15 docs, on Jan. 11.

The image in question is a news photo of two U.S. soldiers walking away from the camera with a hooded detainee between them.

An MPAA spokesman said: "We treat all films the same. Ads will be seen by all audiences, including children. If the advertising is not suitable for all audiences it will not be approved by the advertising administration."

According to ThinkFilm distribution prexy Mark Urman, the reason given by the Motion Picture Assn. of America for rejecting the poster is the image of the hood, which the MPAA deemed unacceptable in the context of such horror films as "Saw" and "Hostel." "To think that this is not apples and oranges is outrageous," he said. "The change renders the art illogical, without any power or meaning."

The MPAA also rejected the one-sheet for Roadside Attractions' 2006 film "The Road to Guantanamo," which featured a hooded prisoner hanging from his handcuffed wrists. At the time, according to Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, the reason given was that the burlap bag over the prisoner's head depicted torture, which was not appropriate for children to see.

"Not permitting us to use an image of a hooded man that comes from a documentary photograph is censorship, pure and simple," said producer, writer and director Gibney. "Intentional or not, the MPAA's disapproval of the poster is a political act, undermining legitimate criticism of the Bush administration. I agree that the image is offensive; it's also real."

ThinkFilm plans to appeal the ruling, although Urman admitted that he "doesn't know what that entails. I've only appealed ratings before."

If ThinkFilm ignores the MPAA and uses materials that have not been approved, it runs the risk of having the rating revoked, which is what happened earlier this year to "Captivity."

The "Taxi" ad art is actually an amalgam of two pictures. The first, taken by Corbis photographer Shaun Schwarz, features the hooded prisoner and one soldier. Another military figure was added on the left. Ironically, the original Schwarz photo was censored by the military, which erased his camera's memory. The photographer eventually retrieved the image from his hard drive.

"It's the photo that would not die," Gibney said. "This movie is not a horror film like 'Hostel.' This is a documentary and that image is a documentary image."

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Blogger jsb said...

Matthew, this is not government censorship. This is a voluntary association to which distributors belong. If the filmmakers wished, they could put this one sheet in many newspapers around the country that would gladly accept it, for the price of advertising. Also, if the filmmakers wished, they could show the film in any venue that they chose to rent and plaster the image on the side of a building. I could walk around government buildings wearing a shirt emblazoned with the image if I chose to. This is not censorship. For real censorship, go to Cuba.

4:39 AM  

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