Filipino directors say MTRCB ban on Gerard Butler film is ‘censorship, injurious to free speech’
Film directors in the Philippines are up in arms over what seemed like an impending ban on the local screening of the Hollywood film “Plane” starring Gerard Butler following a call by some senators, saying to do so is “injurious to free speech.”
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (DGPI) expressed its dismay over the supposed commitment by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to “reevaluate” the film amid the call of Senators Robin Padilla and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to ban and condemn the action movie on the ground that it supposedly tarnishes the country’s image.
“The Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (DGPI) opposes moves to stop the showing of this movie, as we believe agency and free choice must remain with the public, rather than imposed by politicians,” the statement read.
“To outrightly ban the film, especially one already approved by the MTRCB, is a cure much worse than the illness itself, injurious to free expression and sets a precedent for films to be held hostage by imagined slights to our country’s reputation,” it further said.
The guild likewise said that any move by MTRCB to ban the film based merely on the grounds raised is tantamount to an act of censorship.
“If the state can tolerate free expression for trolls, fake news, and historical revisionism without worrying about their effect on the country’s prestige, then the state can do the same for a work that members of the foreign press have regarded as mindless B-movie entertainment rather than a reliable commentary on our country’s affairs,” DGPI said.
“We support allowing the film to screen, informing the public of any problematic claims it makes, inviting open debate, or simply ignoring the film altogether. But we stand against censorship or banning the exhibition of this film from screening,” it further stated.
Padilla, in an interview over dwIZ that he met with officials of the MTRCB over the weekend, and he was given an assurance that the movie would not be shown here.
Despite being filmed in Puerto Rico, “Plane” was set in Jolo, Sulu in Mindanao, Philippines, where a group of militiamen supposedly attacked the passengers of a plane that made its way to the area via emergency landing. Butler took on the role of commercial pilot Brodie Torrance, who rescued the passengers out of the island.
In a manifestation dated Feb. 15, Padilla expressed that the film’s narration was “problematic” where he noted that while Jolo is known for being the breeding ground of terrorist groups, he stressed that it was no longer the case. However, some areas of the volcanic island remained to be the area where terror groups such as the Abu Sayyaf continue to reside.
The neophyte senator, who used to portray roles of violent criminals as an actor, added that the film puts the Philippines in a “negative light,” where he pointed out that the country’s “reputation” in the international stage is at stake.
His position was supported by Zubiri, who said the movie might push back the country’s efforts to attract tourists as it painted a “wrong picture of the Philippines.” EDV