Heard that Said Zahari 17 years has been banned under section 35 of the Film Act which gives the Minister of Information a discretionary power to prohibit the distribution or possession of any film he deems against the public interest. It is a pity. This film should be seen, especially by Singaporeans. For the documentary is about the price of our present day efficiency, wealth and ennui. In the early 60’s, during Singapore’s formation, at the height of the red scare, a whole echelon of politicians, intellectuals, artists had their lives brought to a standstill when they were incarcerated without trial as they were considered too far to the left. They were inconvenient to have around, too unruly and uncontrollable. On a craft level, I admire this documentary for its simplicity. Martyn See could have added so many other kinds of shots, but he does not. He focuses on the basic talking head, keeps it tight, and as one watches the Said Zahari speak, it all makes sense why this simple device was chosen. Its our loss.
Other good news around the region, Amir Mohammed’s Village People Radio Show is banned by Malaysia’s censors but can be seen at SIFF next week (just as Said Zahari 17 years could be seen at Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur last year)