Thursday, February 09, 2006

United Arab Emirates bans "Brokeback"

Despite winning even more awards in London Wednesday, "Brokeback Mountain" will not be seen by moviegoers in the United Arab Emirates, after the country's government banned the film.

Following a lead set by China last month, the UAE said the ban was an attempt to protect its citizens from "offensive, abnormal behaviors."

"The film will upset the people of this culture and tradition," said Dr. Abdullah Al Amiri, chairman of the Committee of Financial, Economical and Industrial Affairs of Sharjah Consultative Council.

"The portrayal of the sexual behavior of its main character is offensive to eastern societies, particularly Muslims and the Arabs since Islam forbids abnormal behaviors like homosexuality," he added, according to press reports.

The decision to bar the film was made by the country's Ministry of Culture and Information.

A ministry source told the Khaleej Times that it was allowed to bar the film because its depiction of gay men goes against the country's censors.

The move comes as the film won both the Best Film and Best Director awards at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards on Wednesday.

"'Brokeback Mountain' has all the ingredients of a classic love story, except that the lovers are two young ranch hands who in love one summer," the organization's chairman said. "Ang Lee has succeeded in presenting this highly controversial situation in an intelligent and sensitive fashion."

The accolades follow a series of awards and nominations, including eight nominations at this year's Oscars. The film is expected to be a big winner at the awards, which take place next month.

Despite having an acclaimed Taiwanese director and a growing list of awards, "Brokeback Mountain" will also not be screened in China because of its gay content.

The movie's "sensitive topic" of same-sex love makes it too controversial for theatrical release in the country, the Xinhua News Agency reported last month.

Additionally, some cinemas in conservative areas of the United States have pulled the film from their schedules, despite originally advertising it.