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‘God’s Own Country’ Director Criticizes Distributor for Censoring Gay Sex Scenes on Prime Video

"It is not the film I intended or made," Francis Lee wrote about the censorship of his film.

"Gods Own Country"

“Gods Own Country”

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Update (4:20pm ET): Sources close to Amazon Prime tell IndieWire the censored cut of “God’s Own Country” was uploaded by distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films through the company’s Prime Video Direct service. Films uploaded through Prime Video Direct that contain depictions of pornography or explicit depictions of sexual acts or nudity are labeled as featuring “sexually explicit content,” which prevents the title from appearing on certain carousels on the Prime Video website. By censoring “God’s Own Country,” the free stream of the film available for Prime subscribers bypassed an explicit rating and thus increased its visibility on the website. The censored cut has since been pulled from Amazon Prime. The original theatrical cut is still available for rent or purchase. IndieWire has reached out to Samuel Goldwyn Films for comment.

Director Francis Lee confirmed the news in a Twitter post, writing: “After investigation, ‘God’s Own Country’ was not censored by Prime Video (Amazon USA) but by the US distributor Goldwyn Films who butchered the streaming version without consultation to get more ‘revenue.’ Prime Video were incredibly supportive in rectifying. The rental version of ‘God’s Own Country’ on Prime Video is the correct version of my film. I would like to thank Amazon Prime for being supportive and I would caution any filmmaker of working with the aforementioned ‘distributor.’ Thank you everyone for for all your support.”

Earlier: “God’s Own Country” director Francis Lee has taken to social media to warn moviegoers not to watch his 2017 gay romance drama on Amazon Prime. According to the director, the streaming platform has censored “God’s Own Country.” Lee wrote to his followers, “Dear friends in the USA, ‘God’s Own Country’ appears to have been censored on Prime Video. Until this is investigated please do not rent or buy on Amazon Prime. It is not the film I intended or made. I will report back.” IndieWire has reached out to Amazon for comment.

Lee world premiered “God’s Own Country” at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the World Cinema Directing prize. The film stars Josh O’Connor as a tough Yorkshire farmhand named Johnny, who’s forced to tend to his family’s land after his father suffers a stroke. The family hires a Romanian migrant worker named Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) to help assist with lambing season, and the two men form a romantic bond that tests their defenses. Unlike gay romances such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “Call Me by Your Name,” “God’s Own Country” depicts explicit sex scenes and full frontal male nudity.

Some of Lee’s social media followers responded to his message (via NME) saying Amazon Prime censored one sex scene in which Johnny and Gheorghe wrestle in the mud and perform oral sex on each other. Another edit reportedly cuts a sex scene between Johnny and an auctioneer in a cattle trailer. Lee posted a follow-up Tweet earlier today that reads: “I’m interested if any of you have evidence of Amazon Prime USA censoring naked women or intimate/sex scenes within heterosexual stories on their streaming service? Or if they just censor queer stories?”

Next up for Lee is the lesbian romance “Ammonite,” starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Neon picked up distribution rights to the drama earlier this year and for now is planning a release in the fall. Based on a true story, “Ammonite” stars Winslet as fossil hunter Mary Anning and follows her as she is hired to care for the wife of a rich geologist (Ronan). The two women form a close bond that develops into romance.

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