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Stop Film Censorship in Sri Lanka

Stop Film Censorship in Sri Lanka

It might sound like one of those cries from help from a Nigerian banker, but this one’s real: I got an email from a French producer seeking help for a film he backed, Ashoka Handagama’s incest drama “Aksharaya” (“Letter of Fire”). After giving the director permission to screen the fiilm, a government organization is now forbidding it.

Listen to the logic of Culture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana: “I think a severe injustice had been done against the child actor who appears in the film,” he said. “This child who is less than 12 years old was exposed to full nudity of a young woman. Then he commits two murders in the film. The film begins with the scene with nudity. We will only allow the film to be screened in public if these scenes were taken off.”

Asoka Handagama responds in an email note, calling for “the backing of the international film community and the human right organisations to safeguard the freedom of expression. . . . Since the authorities know that they can’t ban the film legally, they are now trying their best to trap me, allegedly putting child abuse charges against me.”

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