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Censorship claims as iconic gay film Paris Is Burning pulled from festival at last minute

Jess Glass October 13, 2017
(Facebook/Paris is Burning)

Some of the stars of the documentary (Paris is Burning / Facebook)

The classic film Paris Is Burning has been removed from a Singaporean film festival at the last minute in an attempt to avoid controversy.

In a move widely criticised by LGBT activists in Singapore, Paris Is Burning was removed from the programme of the 2018 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.

The festival had initially worked with LGBT film group The Glory Hoes to show the iconic documentary in the festival in January.

However, shortly before the release of the official programme, Paris Is Burning was removed from the line-up.

In a statement to their Facebook page, The Glory Hoes wrote: “[The organisers] were afraid that the inclusion of this event in the programme could be spun to look like ‘the Fringe is celebrating the LGBT lifestyle.’

“M1 has expressed that their continued funding of the Fringe is predicated on 2018 being a year free of controversy.”

They continued: “The Glory Hoes consider this position to be queer erasing, homophobic and queer bashing.”

The group also added that the documentary has already been approved by the Singaporean regulatory body which classifies films that are shown in the country.

Singapore is a highly conservative country, same-sex marriages are not recognised and sex between men is illegal, although this is rarely enforced.

Despite this, thousands of people attended this summer’s Pink Dot Pride event.

Pink Dot Pride 2017
Pink Dot Pride 2017 (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In response to the accusation of censorship, the organisers of the M1 Singapore Fringe released a statement saying: “The organising team is taking special care not to have a recurrence of a furore where works presented are taken out of context.”

They added: “The Fringe programming goes through various changes until the official media launch that is usually held in October.

“In the past, we have experienced instances where we have had to withdraw works from the shortlisted Fringe line-up due to reasons such as funding, permissions, licensing, logistics, professional differences, and so on.”

Related: A church in Singapore sends ‘alert’ about ‘homosexual content’ in Beauty and the Beast

Paris Is Burning explores the NYC drag ballroom culture of the 1980s and is often seen as a staple of LGBT culture and history.

Moments from the film are heavily referenced in shows such as RuPaul’s Drag race, particularly during each season’s ‘reading challenge.’

The documentary is frequently credited with bringing terms such as ‘voguing’ and gay lingo like ‘realness’ and ‘shade’ into mainstream culture.

In 2016, Paris is Burning was added to the US National Library of Congress, which preserves films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

More: Asia, censorship, Film Reviews, Fringe Film, LGBT, lgbt film, M1 Singapore Fringe, Paris is Burning, Singapore, Singapore, World

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