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lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

03 September, 2010

Freedom of Expression and Censorship - Day One of 27 Times Cinema


The first thing on schedule for us 27 cinema lovers yesterday was a discussion based around freedom of expression and censorship. Sexually explicit material and violence have been seen over the years as the cause or symptoms of a society in degradation. This view has also been applied by some societies to opinions that criticise the government or the dominant culture of the time. The panel was headed by Variety Group Editor Timothy M. Gray and included notable speakers such as Giorgio Gosetti – General Delegate for the Venice Days, Gian Luca Farinelli – head of the Bologna Film Archive, Turkish journalist Mehmut Basutçu, Iranian filmmaker Masdak Taebi and Director of ART for the World - and Producer of Jafar Panahi's short The Accordion - Adelina Fürstenberg. This discussion centred on a topic that has been an ever-present thorn in the side of the art world that has flared up and caused many a problem in this industry.

A number of valid points were raised including the relationship between censorship and bureaucracy; highlighting how certain governments and ideologies limit the creative process through censorship. Another point raised was that censorship is not only exercised by governments but also by the market and can even be self-imposed. A clear example of just how prevalent censorship is today is the case of Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi who was imprisoned by the Iranian government for purportedly making a film against the current government in Iran. Though Mr. Panahi was released from prison, he is banned from leaving Iran and from making films; a prison of the mind.

For me, as the Maltese participant of 27 Times Cinema, this discussion was very important because Malta has suffered the censor's bite very recently, with the banning of the theatrical work “Stitching” by Anthony Nielson as well as the banning of an issue of student newspaper Ir-Realta which featured Alex Vella Gera's piece “Li Tkisser Sewwi” (What you break you fix). All this despite the European Union's promotion of Freedom of Expression and civil liberties.

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