Viewpoint from a filmmaker - Jeremy Sing

A 2010 Arts Community Position Paper on Censorship and Regulation has recently been developed by Arts Engage, a network of arts practitioners from various disciplines. The paper proposes and recommends for the current system to be replaced by one where there is a clear separation of regulation and censorship.

A group of students from LASALLE take to the streets and the internet to interview members of the public and local filmmakers on their views and opinion concerning the current film classifications system in Singapore.

Here is a response from SINdie's very own blogger/filmmaker, Jeremy:

During the process of making a film, have you ever felt restricted by any regulatory boundaries set by MDA? If yes, in what ways?
Not really. If commercial objectives were secondary in making a film, I will go completely with my guts because films cross geographical boundaries and every film will find its audience somewhere. So if it is a good piece of work that's kept my artistic integrity intact, I will not be too concerned that the authorities might ban it.

If for artistic purposes, would you make a film which you know might attract censors or cuts but still continue to do it anyway? Why?
Yes, I would. How can replace the word 'fuck' when you need the character to say it? If it is in Hokkien, it proves my point even more. There are just no substitutes for certain elements in film.

In the Arts Community Position Paper, it is suggested that regulation should be implemented in place of censorship, as the former involves objective classification that is not politically-motivated. What is your view?
The whole basis of the Position Paper is to lobby for the us to be treated more like adults. Adults are ready to judge for themselves what is right and wrong and what are the boundaries of being creative and being distasteful. This line is very fine. But when we are given the space to decide where the line is, it leads us to start thinking critically about what is acceptable and what is not. If we decide something is not, there is whole-hearted acceptance. We are not blindly placing 'conventional' judgements on thing.

Two of MDA’s guiding principles behind its regulatory work are to uphold community values and to safeguard national and public interest. What is your view?
On community values, it sounds sensible on the onset but what we forget is that the censors, like to err on the side of being conservative or 'the best way not to get into trouble'. They are after holding in highly-watched positions, doing sensitive jobs. On national and public interest, I find it hard to define what it is and politics can often get into play (and I guess this is universal, not just in Singapore).

Have you participated in any discussion programmes or feedback consultations with regards to content regulation initiated by MDA? Would you participate in future? Why?
No. This is mainly due to my busy schedule. But when I have more time in the future I would like to. I believe, in my position, running SINdie, a widely-read film blog, we have some social responsibility to my readers.

What do you have to say about the censoring/banning of content in films screened in local theatres which are still obtainable on the Internet?
Perhaps the censors see public screening of 'objectionable' films is public endorsement of them. So banning them is more a gesture and it does not ultimately block off all possible viewing opportunities of the film. But I wonder they do not explore restricted screening arrangements? Perhaps they may start to now given the recent changes announced.

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