Suzanne Goldenberg / London Guardian May 18 2006
Two new films which expose unpleasant truths about Guantanamo and the battle for Iraq are coming under pressure from censors in the United States.
The Motion Pictures Association of America has censored a poster advertising a film about the Tipton three, called The Road to Guantanamo, that showed a hooded and blindfolded man hanging by his shackled wrists. Also, the makers of Baghdad ER, a documentary about a US military combat hospital, told the Guardian yesterday that Francis Harvey, the secretary of the army, had demanded last-minute changes to the film.
The Guantanamo film ran into difficulties with the MPAA last month when it submitted its advertising material for customary review. To the surprise of Howard Cohen, president of Roadside Attractions which is distributing the film in the US, the association demanded that the poster for the R-rated film be toned down.
"It was the head in the burlap sack that pushed it over the edge for them," Mr Cohen said. The film will be advertised instead by a poster which shows only a pair of shackled hands and arms. "It's outrageous that they are objecting to this image ... They are saying ... children in the US should not be allowed to see what it is we are doing to people in Guantanamo." The MPAA offered no comment.
The makers of Baghdad ER say the senior leadership of the Pentagon has turned against their film, despite cooperation during its making in Baghdad and a positive reception at screenings at military bases. "Somebody wearing a tie and not a uniform seems to have a political agenda and is trying to influence this film," said the director, Jon Alpert.
The army surgeon general, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, issued a health warning against the film, saying it could cause post-traumatic stress disorder. But Major Crystal Oliver, an army spokeswoman, said there was no attempt to censor and that the military was happy with the portrayal. "The leadership are proud of those soldiers in the film." she said.
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