Indonesian Director Takes Aim at 'Narrow-Minded' Censor Over 'Noah' Ban

‘Noah’, starring Australian actor Russell Crowe, is said to be denied a release in China’s theaters. (AFP Photo/Yury Samolygo)

By : Jakarta Globe | on 3:08 PM March 25, 2014
Category : News, Life & Style, Movies, Featured

New Zealand-born Australian actor Russell Crowe poses for a photo in front of a Russian billboard for the biblical epic film 'Noah' in Moscow, on March 17, 2014. The 49-year old Oscar-winning actor arrived in Moscow to promote his new movie "Noah" banned in some Arab countries. (AFP Photo/Yury Samolygo) New Zealand-born Australian actor Russell Crowe poses for a photo in front of a Russian billboard for the biblical epic film 'Noah' in Moscow, on March 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Yury Samolygo)

Jakarta. Respected Indonesian film director Joko Anwar criticized the country's Film Censorship Board (LSF) on Tuesday for its "narrow-minded" decision to ban Darren Aronofsky's upcoming movie "Noah" on the grounds that it showed a depiction of an Islamic prophet.

"If there is a fear that the film will cause unrest and protest from some groups then the government should create a situation conducive to people growing up instead of always limiting them to a narrow-minded condition," the award-winning director "Pintu Terlarang" ("Forbidden Door") and "Kala" told the Jakarta Globe.

The film-censorship board banned the showing of "Noah," on Monday, making Indonesia the latest Muslim-majority nation to censor the film on the grounds that it showed an image of Noah — a Koranic prophet. The movie has already been banned in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The censorship board defended its decision on Monday, explaining that the film was against religious teachings and values. The body reached the conclusion on its own and in no way was influenced by decisions made by some countries in the Middle East, Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi, a member of the board, told the Indonesian news portal

"We have our own authority," Zainut said. "We adjust it in accordance with society's values which uphold religious and unity values. We won't just follow in the footsteps of another country."

The chairman of the censorship board said the story presented in "Noah" ran counter to the relevant verses in the Koran.

"There are many considerations,” Mukhlis Paeni told the Indonesian news portal on Monday. “The first thing is the content of Noah is against our beliefs or not according to the story in the holy book."

Joko dismissed the complaints, explaining that banning a movie like "Noah" would have little actual impact on Indonesian moviegoers' ability to watch the film.

“We don’t need to get worried about a movie which they claim might corrupt religious teachings,” Joko said. “Nowadays, with the easy access to YouTube, banning a movie is a waste of effort. Secondly, if we are talking about film, we should see it as a work of art. Art is an interpretation of the filmmaker, so it should not be banned.”

The Indonesian censorship board isn't the first group to take offense with Aronofsky's depiction of the story of Noah. The film, which the director described as "the least biblical biblical film ever made," in an interview with London's The Daily Telegraph newspaper, has attracted the ire of Christians in the US and the UK over Russell Crowe's turn as the Old Testament figure.

The film was scheduled for release in Indonesia on Friday but has been pulled from theater schedules.

The decision, in all likelihood, will do little to prevent the movie from being viewed in the Muslim-majority nation. Indonesian authorities are notoriously weak on the enforcement of copyright law and down-market malls throughout the capital are well stocked with bootleg DVDs of Western films, including titles such as Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" and Steve McQueen's "Shame" that would probably raise eyebrows at the censorship board.

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