Filmmaker Martyn See, who was under investigation last year for a documentary about an opposition leader, said he was surprised by the ban. He said the film, produced at the end of 2005, had been approved twice last year with a PG rating. When it was not shown at the 2006 Singapore International Film Festival, as he expected, See applied for an exhibition license to screen it publicly.
"I don't know what changed. Maybe different people with different views watched it this time," See told The Associated Press. "I based my questions to Said on his first book [Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir], which is sold in Singapore. So what is in the film is not something the government didn't know."
He said he had been ordered by the censorship board to surrender all copies of the film by Wednesday afternoon.
See said that Said is the only one of those detained in the 1960s under the Internal Security Act who is willing to speak publicly about his experience.
"I wanted to show another side of Singapore's history," See said of his reason for making the film.
Said Zahari's 17 Years Trailer
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is banning a film about a former political detainee held for 17 years without trial, the government said.
The film "Zahari's 17 Years" about former journalist Said Zahari -- arrested in 1963 for suspected subversive political activities, including communist sympathies -- will be banned because it is "against public interests," the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said on Tuesday.
"The film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Said Zahari's arrest and detention under the Internal Security Act," the ministry said in a statement.
"Zahari's 17 Years" is directed by Singapore film director Martyn See, who had several run-ins with the Singapore police last year after he produced a documentary about opposition leader Chee Soon Juan in 2005.
Singapore, frequently criticized by human rights groups for its restrictions on the opposition and media, bans political films that contain "biased references to or comments on any political matter."
The Ministry said "Zahari's 17 Years" was an attempt by Zahari "to exculpate himself from his past involvement in communist united front activities against the interests of Singapore."
"The government will not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the government," the ministry said, adding that this may "undermine public confidence in the government."