Vietnam officials address film censorships as ‘Abominable’ pulled from cinemas

Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism directed its attention towards film censorship and publication after the animated film “Abominable” (marketed in Vietnam as “Everest - The Little Yeti”) was yanked from cinemas for a scene featuring the “nine-dash line”.
The illegal “nine-dash line” shown in “Abominable”
The illegal “nine-dash line” shown in “Abominable”
The use of “nine-dash line” in many Chinese maps to unilaterally claim ownership over the East Sea (South China Sea) has long been strongly opposed by the Vietnamese government.
Speaking to the press on October 14, spokesman of the ministry Nguyen Thai Binh said that the territorial implication in “Abominable” is being judged seriously by Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien.
The ministry’s Cinema Department is working with the central film appraisal council regarding this matter. Mr. Binh stressed that members of the council are competent representatives of state-level and provincial-level agencies, carefully selected by the Ministry.
He also addressed the comments making light of the situation by Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, film writer and member of the council, who had said “the scene goes by in the blink of an eye.”
Mr. Binh said: “National borders should be held in the highest regard by a country’s citizens. I think Ms. Ngat as a film-maker didn’t consider the gravity of her statement, but she is certainly conscious of what isn’t allowed to be represented on films”.
In another development, he confirmed that the Cinema Department and the film appraisal council might be held responsible for their negligence appropriately, and efforts shall be made to improve their capability.
Censorship in cinematography still biased, vague
Given the 200 movies being introduced to Vietnamese audience each year, the burden of critical assessment weighs upon management agencies to make accurate decisions.
In reality, it seems stricter limits are imposed upon Vietnamese motion pictures compared to foreign movies, said President of Vietnam Association of Film Promotion and Development Ngo Phuong Lan. Gory or revealing scenes in foreign blockbusters still sometimes pass censorships with no restricted ratings applied.
On the other hand, there have been requests for more specific guidelines regarding censorships, posted by Chanh Phuong Films in a recent conference. They believed this is to allow film-makers more artistic freedom while remaining within cultural-appropriate boundaries.
There have been 223 films that were banned from screening publicly in Vietnam between 2007 and 2018, according to the Cinema Department. This number, however, is very insignificant compared to the ones that got licensed. As long as they make profits, there is no guarantee that the large proportion of movies being released are truly suitable for their respective audience.
CJ CGV cinema chain has removed all promotional materials for “Abominable” following the withdrawal of this film from theaters, and issued an apology on October 14 for its own responsibility as a movie distributor.

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