Viewpoint from a filmmaker - Sanif Olek

We continue with a series of responses from local filmmakers on the current regulation and/or censorship system in Singapore. This is an ongoing project initiated by a group of students from LASALLE. Discussions and exchange of views are encouraged between members of the public and arts practitioners on the regulatory issue of films in Singapore. View our previous interviews here.

We find out what local filmmaker, Sanif Olek has to say:

1. During the process of making a film, have you ever felt restricted by any regulatory boundaries set by MDA? If yes, in what ways?
Telling stories is an intuitive, instinctive process. I let my stories flow. My work in television trains me a lot about restrictions. Nevertheless, I don't see restrictions as limitations. There are other ways of telling your stories and communicating your ideas effectively. But if one needs to shoot a scene of someone "licking" ice-cream, I'm afraid there are no other ways of presenting someone "licking" the ice-cream, are there?

2. 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?
I want to tell my stories effectively and avoid sensationalism for the sake of being sensational. I shoot something because there is something that I want to communicate. You can't fool the audience if your film is not sincere. I don't shoot a film on purpose to attract negativity. I think the panel in the censors are getting smarter. There are 6877000000 people in the world who wants to see your film, with or without censors.

3. 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?
Can you rephrase your question, please? This question is too cheem for my heartland intellect lah.

4. 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?
State whatever they like. Yes we can find all of these in their mission statement.
However, I do agree that Singapore is multiracial and race and religion are very delicate issues. Some adult individuals are mentally-deranged when it comes to these things and still need the government to look after them. *not insulting the intellectually-handicapped here - please stick to context*

5. Have you participated in any discussion programmes or feedback consultations with regards to content regulation initiated by MDA? Would you participate in future? Why?
Was invited but most of the time didn't go because 1. invited at the last minute or 2. couldn't be bothered as most of the time these panels treat these discussions like primary school social class (?) sessions. I got bills to pay (don't we all..?), and that's very important for struggling artistes like myself. Yes would love to come.

6. 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?
There's so much the MDA or any censorship bodies can do but ultimately I think PARENTS are still responsible to what their kids watch on the internet. Technology is so advance these days for the parent to utilise to regulate what they want their children to watch.

Here is a short video that documents some of the public's opinions

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