The Directors' Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (DGPI) has disputed calls to ban the recently released American film Plane. This comes as Sen. Robin Padilla made the suggestion after the Gerard Butler flick seemed to have painted the Philippines in a "negative" light.
In a Senate session on Feb. 15, Padilla aired his qualms about the film's premise as it seemingly portrayed Philippine authorities acting cowardly towards rebels and that the island of Jolo, Sulu has been invaded by the militia, with no presence of the army anymore.
"Sa kanilang pelikula, ang sinasabi ang ating otoridad ay naduwag na sa mga rebelde. Hindi na po sila umaaksyon. At sinabi pa dito, 'They went down somewhere in the Jolo island cluster. It's run by separatists and militias. The Filipino armies weren't there anymore,'" Padilla said.
Plane tells the story of an international flight that crash lands in the jungles of Jolo, Sulu, where the crew and the passengers must now survive the hostile territory that they have found themselves in.
The former actor called on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to reevaluate the screening of the film in local cinemas, stressing that the plot is unacceptable and should be condemned.
"Hindi po natin ito dapat tanggapin. Sana po, nakiki-usap po tayo sa ating MTRCB, na sana po sa mga ganitong ganap, kumakatok po tayo sa opisina nila. Hindi po dapat ito pinapalabas sa Pilipinas. Dito po dapat sa ating bansa, ipinagbabawal ito at kino-condemn po natin ito," Padilla said.
The agency has since acknowleged Padilla's sentiments and has promised to re-evaluate the film in view of the concerns.
However, DGPI is not so happy with the suggestion. In their statement on Feb. 19, the organization, composed of Filipino directors, stressed that the film should not be prohibited from cinemas as that decision must come from the public, "rather than imposed by politicians."
"To outrightly ban the film, especially one already approved by the MTRCB, is a cure much worse than the illness itself, injurious to free expression and sets a precedent for films to be held hostage by imagined slights to our country's reputation," the statement read.
The group added, "If the state can tolerate free expression for trolls, fake news, and historical revisionism without worrying about their effect on the country's prestige, then the state can do the same for a work that members of the foreign press have regarded as mindless B-movie entertainment rather than a reliable commentary on our country's affairs."
DGPI concluded their statement by highlighting that they "support allowing the film to screen, informing the public of any problematic claims it makes, inviting open debate, or simply ignoring the film altogether," but that they draw the line "against censorship or banning the exhibition of this film from screening."
Plane was filmed in Puerto Rico and was released in US theaters on January 13.