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Censor Board move curtails freedom of expression, says Freedom Forum

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - 25 May 2011 - The Film Censor Board of Nepal has imposed censorship on some of the scenes and dialogues of "Khagras" ("Eclipse"), a feature film depicting an eclipse as a metaphor for the dark situation in the country caused by the prevailing political chaos and curtailment of free expression in Nepal. In a move to challenge the censorship, the filmmaking team is reportedly filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court.

The Censor Board expressed concerns over some of the scenes and narratives of the film directed by Shailesh Acharya, according to the film's executive producer, Nilhari Kafle. Kafle quoted the Board as saying, "We do not care about the scenes, no matter what they are. But some of the dialogue is not acceptable."

Though board member Mahendra Guragain told the media that they had no problem issuing a censorship certificate for the film, the film production team had a different story to tell. "The Censor Board prevented us from screening the movie without removing scenes and muting the dialogue," said Kafle. "We will go and knock at the door of the Supreme Court with the written remarks of the Board about the scenes and dialogues to be removed."

It is a constitutionally guaranteed and fundamental right to freely express one's own ideas through any medium, Kafle stressed, adding that the production team would file a motion to have the Censor Board scrapped.

Freedom Forum is concerned by the latest move of the Censor Board, which is an infringement of one's right to articulate ideas and express views via any means.

"Film is a powerful medium to reach out and share one's expression and should not be subject to prior censorship. Censoring film is meant to curtail the horizon of freedom of expression," said Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal, adding that the State could classify the film on the basis of the appropriate viewer age.

Freedom Forum has been demanding the abolition of the Censor Board and the establishment of the Film Development Board as an independent body with representation from different social and professional sectors.

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