Oscar-Nominated Film Pushes Cambodia’s Censorship Limits

With its drugs, sex and swearing, the new Hollywood film “The Wolf of Wall Street” is testing the limits of what Cambodian censors will allow to be shown in the nation’s theaters.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is still in the process of reviewing the movie, which moviegoers expected in theaters in early January. The final decision on what will need to be censored is now in the hands of top officials after the censorship committee in the Department of Cinema failed to reach a unanimous agreement.

“The [censorship] committee has already reviewed this movie, but they couldn’t approve…. It has to go through top decision makers in Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” Sin Chan Saya, head of the government’s film censorship committee, wrote in an email.

“It is because there are too many sex scenes in this movie,” he added.

The Martin Scorsese-directed film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, contains multiple sex scenes, full-frontal nudity, drug use and more than 500 instances of the f-word. In Dubai, 45 minutes were cut from the three-hour movie.

“We did not face this kind of situation with any other movie before,” said Shakuntala Chandra, distribution manager at Sabay MVP, the company distributing the movie.  “It’s quite a heavy movie and not usually what the majority of moviegoers demand.”

Curse words have lost some of their sting as they appear in many Hollywood movies, but “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a special case, as there are so many, Ms. Chandra said.

“If we are asked to remove all ‘f—s,’ basically we would need to mute the movie,” she said. She does not predict that will happen, but Sabay MVP is planning to make all necessary cuts to get the movie on the screen.

On the Facebook page of Legend Cinema, several users have inquired about the delay in releasing the film, which was originally scheduled to be shown at Legend in January.

Legend’s general manager, Vengheang Tang, said if the censors allow it, the theater still plans to show the movie.

“They want to see a different lifestyle,” he said referring to his customers. “It’s better for the cinema to have ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’”

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