Movie banned for showing 'horrors' of factory life
A poster from the film Rana Plaza.
A Bangladeshi court on Aug. 24 imposed a six-month ban on screenings of an upcoming film based on the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, triggering waves of criticism.
A two-judge High Court bench imposed the ban on the movie Rana Plaza — named for the building that collapsed and killed 1,134 workers — after a labor group filed a contempt of court petition. In it, they cited a violation of a previous court order and possible negative impacts on the country’s US$25-billion garment industry.
The 137-minute film received clearance from the Bangladesh Film Censor Board in July and was scheduled to be released across the country on Sept. 4.
It centers on the miraculous rescue of 19-year-old garment worker Reshma Akhter from the ruins of the building 17 days after it caved in.
The story of Reshma’s rescue made headlines across the world and she became a national heroine in Bangladesh. Later, she married her boyfriend and found a well-paid job in a Dhaka hotel.
Deputy Attorney-General Mokhlesur Rahman said the ban is a result of a breach of a previous court order.
“The ban was imposed because the filmmaker and the censor board didn’t comply with a July 17 order which directed them to delete some scenes from the movie featuring the horrors, cruelty, violence and security forces which are detrimental to public sentiment,” Rahman told The Daily Star newspaper on Aug. 24.
The petitioner’s lawyer, Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury, said his client Sirajul Islam Rony, president of the Bangladesh National Garment Workers and Employees League, believed the film could tarnish the image of the garment industry and Bangladesh.
“This movie has some extremely graphic and horrific scenes which should not be allowed for public screening. This might jeopardize the reputation of the industry and the country,” Chowdhury told ucanews.com.
The film’s director, Nazrul Islam Khan, called the ban a “conspiracy”.
“The film tried to portray unpleasant truths about the industry, not to harm its reputation, but to promote public awareness. Moreover, the [censor] board cleared the movie after we cut some scenes as directed by the court,” Khan said.
Building owner Sohel Rana, who is currently facing trial over the accident, was a local leader of the ruling Awami League Party and the government came under heavy criticism at home and abroad over poor working conditions in the factories, Khan added.
Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Social Communication Commission, said the film would doubtless have brought a new round of criticism.
“The film could have shed new light into the plight of garment workers and the negligence of the government. So, the government has likely saved face from another wave of criticism with the ban,” Bishop Rozario said.
“People might be angry toward the government and owners if they come to know about the plight and hazards faced by garment workers from the film. So, they have played a trick by not allow screenings of the film,” echoed Babul Akhter, a prominent labor leader.
Bangladesh’s garment industry is the second largest in the world after China's and is the keystone of the country’s economy, accounting for 80 percent of annual export income. However, the industry is plagued by alleged rights violations and hazardous working conditions. In the past two decades, an estimated 2,000 workers have been killed and thousands injured in dozens of factory fires and collapses.
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