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Amir Muhammad´s Malaysian Gods

April 19, 2009

malaysiangodsOnce again, a movie by Amir Muhammad has been excised from public exhibition in his home country Malaysia. After his previous films The Last Communist (2006) and Village People Radio Show (2006) were banned outright, the The National Film Censorship Board of Malaysia chose a more original method this time:  They let the film pass, but at the same time decided that the 70-minute documentary cannot be shown on TV or in cinemas, and thereby banning it without banning it. The board gave no reasons for its decision.

Muhammad premiered Malaysian Gods thorn-in-your-side-style at the International Film Festival in neighbouring Singapore. But even there, the film got a R rating, and the police needed to issue a special permit to hold a discussion with the film maker. There is an extensive review at Nutshell Review as well as a video documentation of the q&a with Amir; another review is here. Amir´s own take is here. (This is a good opportunity to point out that the coverage of the Singapore Film Festival at A Nutshell Review is the next best thing to actually being there, an overview of the excellent reviews and the videos of the talks of film makers is here.)

Once again, Muhammad interviews people around the places where a historical event in Malaysia took place that the political establishment of the country tries to sweep under the rug, in this case the Reformasi movement of 1998 and the protests led by Anwar Ibrahim who lost his post as Deputy Prime Minister due to dubious allegations of sodomy that were most likely fabricated. It is yet again a hot button topic in Malaysia, like the “Malayan Emergency” that The Last Communist and Village People Radio Show dealt with. An earlier version of the film (or rather a completely different film with the same name) was screened one time only before Muhammad dramatically deleted all the files.

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