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Public Performance Board censors film

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is a press release by FMM and other media organisations:

The film "Leader" censored by the authorities

Five media collectives are condemning the Public Performance Board's suspension of the film "Leader" for general distribution. The film was directed by popular actor and opposition politician Ranjan Ramanayaka. He plays the main role in the film.

The film portrays a satirical parody of Sri Lankan politics, bribery and corruption. It begins with a comical musical of scandals and politicians, with characters resembling popular political leaders dancing and singing. The song says this is 'comedy country'. This clip is one among a number of clips that has been ordered removed by the Public Performance Board.

According to Ranjan Ramanayake, removal of the scenes ordered by the Public Performance Board not only suppresses artistic freedom but will also change the flow of the movie, making it meaningless. The director said the film script and all of the film's scenes were earlier approved by the chairman of the Public Performance Board.

In the opinion of the five media collectives, censoring the film "Leader" is one more step in the direction of suppression of artistic freedom in Sri Lanka. A number of films and teledramas have been banned officially and unofficially over the last three years, mainly on political grounds.

Political satire has been the theme for many film makers and dramatists all over the world. Lampooning authorities has been a part of artistic creations since ancient times. These are rights that have been enjoyed by the people for ages and are enshrined in human rights charters.

In this context, the five media collectives urge the Public Performance Board to revise its decision to censor the film "Leader" and allow for it to be screened to the public.

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA)
Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU)
Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF)
Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA)
Free Media Movement (FMM)

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