Organic burgers and banned films

Friday, December 8th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Film

Back at Chelsea Market for dinner before Asian Cinevisions 2006 at the MoMA.

Chelsea Market Arches

Food Network

Amys Bread

The Green Table‘s wonderful hamburger, made with Lewis Waite grass-fed beef on an Amy’s roll (natch — see bakery photo above), served with housemade tomato relish and pickled onions:

Green Table Burger

Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) is the latest film by Amir Muhammad, one of Malaysia’s leading independent filmmakers. He has described the unconventional work as a “semi-musical road movie documentary,” based on the life of onetime leader of the outlawed Malayan Communist Party Chin Peng, tracing the towns in which he lived from birth until national independence in 1957. The Last Communist was to have been the first local documentary slated for theatrical release in Malaysia. Instead, two weeks before its May 2006 opening, after conservative Malay-language daily Berita Harian published a series of articles denouncing the film as a glorification of Communism, it became the first Malaysian film to be banned by the Malaysian Home Ministry.

Previous bans had earned the censorship board a reputation for being overzealous: Daredevil was banned for its satanic-sounding title; Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers for seeming to promote an illicit (if naturally occuring) drug. (Never mind that both were wretched films anyway.)  Episodes of Friends  have been censored for portraying “casual sex, promiscuity amongst youth, pregnancy outside the institution of marriage and prostitution.”

Three months earlier, the Malaysian Film Censorship Board had passed The Last Communist without cuts, despite the potentially problematic title; the subject of communism is taboo in Malaysia, a legacy of the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960), when British, British Commonwealth and Malay forces battled the army of the Malayan Communist Party. One Malaysian government minister defended the ban, claiming the film was not violent enough and therefore, a misleading representation of both Chin Peng and the period. The saga was the subject of much media coverage, including the New York Times feature story, “Your Film Is Banned. There’s Not Enough Violence.”

Amir published a long and detailed defense of his film, including a summary of the campaign that was launched against him, on the film’s blog. While local production company Red Films and the filmmaker have attempted to appeal the Home Ministry’s decision, the ban remains enforced in Malaysia, where possession of the film constitutes a criminal offense.

Lost in all of the controversy is whether The Last Communist  is actually any good. Certainly as a “multilingual documentary that explores the diversity and plurality of contemporary Malaysia” (Amir’s words), it shows a facet of the country that few get to see in the KL-centric media. The specially-composed cheery songs about such topics as malarial renal failure and government issued identification cards are an amusing parody of popular propaganda anthems. Chin Peng himself is conspicuously absent — never appearing in film or photograph, and mentioned by name only once. What remains behind is a quirky (and until the end, not particularly political) record, offering a slice-of-life portrait of how ordinary people live in modern-day Malaysia.

New Treo

There are 2 Comments ... Organic burgers and banned films

Qsoz
December 22, 2006

Is the last pic supposed to be commentary on modern-day life in NYC?

vipnyc
December 22, 2006

Isn’t it, though?

Go for it ...