Talented director Yasmin Ahmad seems to be surrounded in controversy concerning her movie "Sepet" recently. After a successful run in Singapore, the movie which was scheduled to be released here in Malaysia ran into an extremely rocky course. The local censorship board, Lembaga Penapisan Filem (LPF), found a myriad of problems with the movie that caused them to censor up to nine scenes.
The film tells the story of a Chinese boy, Ah Loong, who falls in love with a Malay girl, Orked and how their love story works out. Described as a harmless teenage love story by Yasmin, she was appalled by the LPF's decision on the cuts. After an appeal to the LPF, only one cut from the nine was lifted and the LPF has refused to budge on the rest of the cuts.
Yasmin was initially adamant about releasing the film here in Malaysia unless at least four of the cuts were lifted. In her blog (http://yasminthestoryteller.blogspot.com), she said, "If they're not going to let up on at least four of the eight cuts, we just won't release it here. Full stop. We'll try for Indonesia instead." Yasmin also said, "I mean, I could understand their problem with the expletives, and the scene where Harith, clad only in a pair of baggy Y-fronts, chases after his wife around the house. But the rest of the cuts, although insignificant, were unreasonable beyond belief."
Why the change of mind then?, you may ask. Apart from the fact that so many Malaysians have been dropping by her blog and begging her to release the movie, Yasmin also said, "If 'Sepet' doesn't get released, we may never get our money back. To make 'Sepet', Ros (the film producer) had to sell her car, as did Ujang the set designer and art director, and I had to draw practically all my savings. And if we didn't make our money back, we may never be able to make 'Gubra'." ("Gubra" is Yasmin's next project.)
So Malaysians, if all goes well, "Sepet" will be hitting the cinemas in a couple of months time. Watch this space for updates.