Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Film makes no sense after edits

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- About 45 minutes have been cut from the nearly three-hour high-finance extravaganza The Wolf of Wall Street for Dubai audiences, or a quarter of the film, leaving many viewers disappointed and confused about the sequence of events.

The cuts come as the movie has drawn criticism even from film critics in more liberal countries for its portrayal of drugs, sex and money. Detractors say the film glorifies unchecked greed, includes full nudity and is loaded with a reported record for F-bombs in a movie -- more than 500.

Moviegoers said all profanities were bleeped out from the Martin Scorsese movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. One woman wrote on the Facebook page for Reel Cinemas, which operates two theatres in Dubai, that she and her friend walked out after about 40 minutes because they felt the movie was simply incoherent and unwatchable.

It is standard policy across most of the Middle East for governments to preview and censor uncut versions of movies, although the extent of the censoring may differ. Censors even edit out kissing scenes in local theatres and on certain Arab satellite television channels.

Juma al-Leem, director of media content at the National Media Center, said censors in the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, typically cut out scenes or language deemed blasphemous or harmful to national security, along with excessive nudity. However, al-Leem told the Associated Press on Tuesday that in this case the regional distributor, Gulf Film, based in Dubai, was responsible for the heavy edits.

"We felt that the editing was done abroad and we will not accept editing done abroad," he said. "We want to see the whole film first and decide."

Gulf Film, which distributes Paramount and Universal titles in Dubai and other Gulf Arab countries, and its parent company, Qatar Media Services, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Qatar Media Services is owned by the government of Qatar.

He said Gulf Film should have shown U.A.E. censors the uncut movie rather than making one sanitized version for the entire region. Dubai, which hosts an annual international film festival, has a reputation for being much less conservative than countries like Saudi Arabia, where traditional movie theatres are banned.


-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2014 C12

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