TV Times

Minister on why the films were banned
By Susitha R. Fernando
A breath of fresh air blew across the stagnant waters of Sri Lanka cinema when the authorities ordered the films under the ‘adults only’ tag - “The Driver” and “Italian Bodies” to stop screening.

It is time that the authorities woke up to the fact that many shoddy movies are doing their rounds within the city of Colombo. These films are heavy on sex and have a very flimsy or no storyline.

The new Minister, Vijitha Herath and his officials deserve the praise of all right thinking film lovers for this commendable move. Many films that are advertised with the adult only tag are open in reality to even school boys.

As for the producers of Sinhala films they are no better. Creating copies of third grade English films with the accent on sex. At the same time while formulating strict guidelines on the production of Sinhala films it should be done in a manner that does not stifle or kill creativity.

It is true that the import of films have been liberalized but it is left to the Ministry of Culture and National Film Corporation (NFC) to exercise some control over the import and distribution of films. As for the dearth of filmgoers it can be rectified by taking steps to import Oscar winning blockbuster movies. Yet there is a important questions to answer can we import and exhibit gems of the world cinema and at what price.

Minister’s response
The TV Times speaking to Minister of Cultural Affairs Vijitha Herath regarding the order to stop screening of two near-phonographic films ‘The Driver’ and ‘Italian Bodies’ asked;

What are your plans to give a new face lift regarding the duties of the film industry?
My first duty was to focus on implementing the regulations set by the Censor Board regarding the categorising of films. I have formed a special team to carryout raids and checks in cinemas where adult’s only films are screened.

What pushed you to such a decision?
It has come to my notice since taking up the Ministry that there is a lot of bribery and corruption going on. This is the first step to root out corruption to which our exhibitors have sunk. I think I have a duty towards our future generation and the people to eradicate this near-phonographic exhibition of film menace.

Are there any immediate plans since the order to stop screening ‘The Driver’ and ‘Italian Bodies’?
I have invited the film theatre owners for a friendly chat regarding the import of films and screening. I hope we will reach consensus regarding these vital issues. This type of discussion is better than taking legal action.
There is a flood of billboards depicting lewd scenes which is culturally demoralizing. Any comment?

Yes. I have decided to take stern action to implement the regulations concerning billboards and cut-outs.
Film Importer’s side
Sunil T. Fernando, one of the main importers of foreign films and the importer of one of the two films that was banned by the Cultural Minister said;
What do you think of the order to stop screening the two films by the new Cultural Minister?
I’m surprised why a film that was passed by the Censor Board was ordered to stop screening.

Any comments on the discussions to be held on June 24?
The theatre owners are undergoing a difficult period. It is almost impossible to keep the theatre running at a profit.
So we have to resort to screening adult’s only films as a last resort. We are hoping to discuss these matters with the Minister.
Don’t you think that this type of films are culturally demoralizing and has a detrimental effect on the youth?

Actually we are focusing on the commercial aspects. It is no secret that many theatres have been forced to close down and we are managing to hold on with the help of these films only.
We have no alternative as for the culturally demoralizing aspects our society as a whole needs a cleanup.


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