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Sony urged to reconsider decision to pull the film "The Interview"

A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film
A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California, 11 December 2014

REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

This statement was originally published on on 18 December 2014.

PEN American Center expresses its profound regret at Sony Pictures' statement that The Interview will not be released on any platform as a result of threats made by unidentified sources. PEN urges Sony to reconsider their decision to withhold the film entirely.

PEN condemns the threats of violence made against movie theaters planning to show the film. We further urge responsible authorities to provide the security measures necessary to secure public safety. Violence is never a valid response to protected speech, and the safety of theatergoers is paramount. As an organization dedicated to defending free expression around the world, PEN has long documented the chilling effect that threats or acts of violence can have on free speech and creative expression. The chilling effect of Sony's decision has already been felt throughout the entertainment industry with New Regency's cancellation of plans for the film Pyongyang. Complete suppression of The Interview would set a dangerous and deeply troubling precedent for other artists considering work on potentially controversial or offensive subjects. PEN urges Sony Pictures to release The Interview through every channel that does not pose a safety risk, to combat this chilling effect and stand up for creative freedom.

"No matter how objectionable some may find the movie's content, cancelling all plans to release The Interview deprives those who worked on it of the chance to distribute their work to the public, and denies the public the chance to see and appreciate it," said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN. "Pulling the film gives the criminals who made these reprehensible threats exactly what they want. Sony should distribute the film as far and wide as possible through channels that are not judged to pose a risk to safety, to demonstrate support for its artists and its ongoing commitment to uninhibited creative freedom. The controversy surrounding the film underscores the importance of allowing a public audience to judge The Interview for itself."

What other IFEX members are saying
  • "The Interview" cancellation sets dangerous precedent of censorship

    To protest against the attack on freedom of expression that the threats against screenings of The Interview represents, Secret Cinema is staging a special one-off Secret Screening on Sunday 21 December, with all proceeds from the show going to ARTICLE 19.

  • A victory for opponents of free speech

    "Clearly this sets an example for other anonymous groups to put a curb on artistic expression through threats. This opens the door for anyone to level a threat against artistic works that they don't agree with or find distasteful."

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