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Annette Bening (left) and Julianne Moore star in The Kids Are All Right
Singapore censors limit screening of lesbian-themed 'The Kids Are All Right'

in SINGAPORE, 21/02/2011

The Board of Film Censors rated Oscar-nominated drama The Kids Are All Right as category R21 and limited its release to one single print.

Not content to just slap a R21 rating on The Kids Are All Right, Singapore's Board of Film Censors has imposed an additional condition on the film's distributors in that the film can only be released on one print – effectively limiting the number of screenings.

The film is scheduled to next Thursday with no cuts. 

Directed and written by Lisa Cholodenko (High Art and Laurel Canyon) who is herself a lesbian and biological mother of her son whom she raises with her partner, the film centres on a lesbian couple played by Annette Bening and Juliane Moore who used the same anonymous sperm donor to each give birth to their two children. In their teens, the children track down their biological father played by Mark Ruffalo. It has received four Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Annette Bening), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Best Original Screenplay.

According to the Singapore Straits Times today, the move is said to be the "first time an R21 film will be screened under such a condition outside of a film festival".

The report quoted the explaination provided by the censorship board to the co-distributor Cathay-Keris Films in rejecting its appeal: "The majority of the members agreed with the board that the film normalises a homosexual family unit and has exceeded the film classification guidelines which states that 'Films that promote or normalise a homosexual lifestyle cannot be allowed'."

Under the board's film classification guidelines, films should not "promote or normalise a homosexual lifestyle. However, nonexploitative and non-explicit depictions of sexual activity between two persons ofthe same gender may be considered for R21."

The board also said in the letter quoted by the Straits Times that the fact that the film is allowed for release in Singapore at all was already a concession. It said: "Imposing a condition of one-print serves as a signal to the public at large that such alternative lifestyles should not be encouraged."

Other gay-themed movies including Brokeback Mountain and A Single Man were rated R21 without further conditions imposed. The Kids Are All Right is however the first to portray a same-sex parental household.

Low Yuen Ping, managing director of co-distributor Festive Films, was quoted as saying that the condition was one that he had not encountered before and had he known, he might have reconsidered acquiring the film.

"As a distributor, it means that it will be extremely difficult to recover the cost of acquiring and releasing this film. Had I known this condition beforehand, I probably wouldn't have been able to justify the cost of acquiring this film."

Prominent members of the local cinema industry were also shocked by the news.  "I thought we had grown up. I am flabbergasted," said Lesley Ho, former director of the Singapore International Film Festival.

"That's ridiculous. I'm shocked, this has never happened before," the report quoted  filmmaker Eric Khoo as saying.

The Kids Are All Right is scheduled to open in Singapore on Feb 24, 2011.

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