02 May 2003

Malaysian censors change their
minds on Iraq

Mike Goodridge in Los Angeles

The Malaysian Censor Board, Censorship Film Malaysia, has overturned its previous ruling to ban Bahman Ghobadi’s Marooned In Iraq. The board originally informed distributor Sureya Film at the end of March that the film promoted the image of Saddam Hussein as “inhumane” and would be damaging to relations between Malaysia and Iraq and Iran.
The ruling was overturned this week in the wake of Saddam’s removal from power by a US-led coalition army.
A personal film retitled from Cannes 2002 where it played in Un Certain Regard as Songs From My Homeland, Marooned In Iraq follows an old Iranian Kurd musician who sets out in search of his long estranged wife who crossed over into Iraqi Kurdistan years earlier. When he finds her, it emerges that she has been badly deformed by the chemical attacks of March 1988 which killed 15,000 Kurds.
Sales agent Menemsha Films will screen the film in the market at Cannes this year. It has already been sold to Movienet which will release in Germany on May 29, Coli Films in France, Sanmarusan in Japan and ActionFilm in Norway. US distributor Wellspring opened the film domestically on April 18.
Menemsha’s Neil Friedman said he is currently in negotiation on a host of other territories. “With the strong reviews the film has garnered in the US market to date and the upcoming success we feel the film will have in the German market, the film should sell strongly throughout the world to arthouse distributors.”