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MILK Ban Unhealthy For Samoa

MILK Ban Unhealthy For Samoa, Says Pacific Freedom Forum

For immediate release: Friday 17th April 2009: The Pacific Freedom Forum has expressed its concern over the banning of the Sean Penn film, 'Milk', as reported by the New Zealand Herald on April 9, 2009.

Samoa is the only nation worldwide where censors have specifically banned the multi-academy award winning film, which means those in Samoa will only see the pirated version or overseas-purchased copies smuggled into the country.

"While we respect the need for censors to rule in the public interest, we say the personal bias of censors should not be allowed to overtake a ruling in that interest,” says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea. He says the authority of censorship should not be taken lightly, as is entails trust from the general public that decisions will be fair.

"Not only are Samoans being deprived of the experience of seeing a performance regarded as outstanding, by any standards, they are mystified, and rightly suspicious, about why the Samoa Censor Board has banned 'Milk', and this will only fuel their curiosity to see what the censorship fuss is all about,” says Laumaea.

'Milk' is a docu-drama about the leading American gay rights activist, Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978. It was nominated for eight Oscars, and won two, for best original screenplay, and best actor in a leading role, for Sean Penn's performance.

"The Pacific Freedom Forum calls on the Samoan film censors to fully and transparently explain themselves to the Samoan people, and re-consider its decision on banning 'Milk'," he says.

“Perhaps the ban, final though the board claim it is, means the Samoan authorities have a responsibility to the people to fully explain their reasons for their decision,” says PFF co-chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa.

“It is critical that the censorship board account clearly for their wish to protect the people of Samoa from viewing this film, when other films depicting violence, sometimes graphic violence, are readily available in Samoan outlets," she says.

"Given the acclaim this film has received worldwide, and given the silence on exactly why it has been banned in Samoa, observers are left to wonder at the censorship standards being applied in a country where fa’afafine have a well established and respected role," says Miller.


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