1. Use Khmer script on your riot police shields
Do riot shields really need any text on them? Not a whole lot of reading goes on during violent protests – too much tear gas and molotov-throwing. Which makes it all the more inexcusable for “No Escape”, an Owen Wilson escape-from-scary-Southeast Asia movie, to feature inverted Khmer script on the shields of the riot police. Banned.
2. Turn the sex, drug use and swearing up to 11
The Cambodian censors will put up with a lot. Misogyny? Sure. Ugly, unbridled avarice? Fine. Drug use? Why not? But “The Wolf of Wall Street” combination of all of the above, plus 500 instances of the word “f*ck,” got it nixed by the Ministry of Culture.
3. Insult North Korea
The Interview features Seth Rogen and James Franco as a coupla bros trying to assassinate the North Korean dictator. The movie was not looked on kindly by the rogue state, and the North Korean embassy asked the Cambodian government to ban the airing of the film, calling it “a collaboration with its enemies that could lead to fragile relations between the two countries.” The movie was banned, and relations stayed normal, which is good news for those of us who couldn’t live without Pyongyang Restaurant’s bibimbap.
4. Be too sexy
50 Shades of Grey’s very vanilla take on S&M was apparently still too raunchy for the Ministry of Culture, getting the movie banned. Cutting out all the sex scenes was not an option, because the movie would have been 20 minutes long, and the plot would have just been about a guy with a helicopter, nice suits, and an impressive whip collection.
5. Be poorly animated
The simple animation process used for South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut just wasn’t up to the Ministry of Culture’s standards.
6. Reflect badly on Cambodian police
“Who Killed Chea Vichea” is a documentary about the shooting of trade union president Chea Vichea in 2004. Though two people were eventually arrested for the shooting, the movie questions whether they were the real culprits. The frank criticism of the government got the movie banned.
7. Criticize the justice system
The most recent movie to be banned in Cambodia, “I am Chut Wutty”, tells the story of an environmental activist who was gunned down in 2012 in Koh Kong. It questions the investigation into his death, and a screening at Meta House was banned on short notice this week.
8. Portray the Cambodian sex trade
Chhay Bora’s “3.50” wasn’t banned outright, but was delayed by censors for two years before finally being released in 2015. Censors said they worried its portrayal of the Cambodian sex industry would reflect badly on the reputation of the country.