ISLAMABAD: Hammad Khan’s independent film about westernised twenty-somethings in the Pakistani capital city of Islamabad, Slackistan, has generated a string of objections from Pakistani authorities, preventing its release in cinemas across the country.
The Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) have demanded that the filmmaker remove all dialogue references in the film to the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, as well as any mention of Islamic beards and related religious attire. The censors have also objected to the term ‘lesbian’ in one of the scenes, as well as all instances of bad language in English and Urdu uttered by characters in the film.Further objections relate to the film’s characters clutching and sharing alcoholic drinks in the film. All suggestion of alcohol being enjoyed has been prohibited from the film.
The CBFC have also stated that, even if all cuts are made as demanded, the film would still receive a restrictive adults-only ‘18+’ rating.
Khan states, “The censor board’s verdict is oppressive, arbitrary and steeped in denial about life outside their government offices. Maybe the establishment’s view is that young Pakistanis saying words like ‘Taliban’ and ‘Lesbian’ represent a more potent threat than the bullets and bombs that are, day by day, finding increasing legitimacy in the country.”
“Apart from being an undemocratic restriction on the filmmaker’s right of expression, the verdict shows the disdain with which the authorities regard local film culture and liberal ideas, in the face of growing extremism and intolerance.”
Slackistan has had successful screenings at festivals in London, Abu Dhabi, New York, San Francisco and Goa. Mara Pictures released the film in the UK and were also handling its Pakistan release. PR
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2011.
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