OSAKA – Film director Shingo Ota has pulled his movie about the Airin day-laborer district in the city of Osaka from next month’s Osaka Asian Film Festival after the city requested that he edit some scenes depicting the poverty-stricken area, sources said Wednesday.
The movie “Kaihoku” (meaning “liberated area”) tells the tale of a man who comes to Airin, in Nishinari Ward, to search for a missing friend. It includes scenes in which the man buys and uses amphetamines bought from a drug dealer, according to the 28-year-old director and the city, which contributed to the filming costs.
The executive committee of the film festival determined that the work included scenes that “promote prejudice,” and said changes needed to be made based on “human rights considerations,” sources said. The city is an organizing member of the committee.
The movie received a ¥600,000 grant from the city with some conditions, including its submission to the film festival.
“This is censorship and (the city) has overstepped its authority. They did not point out anything when I submitted the screenplay,” Ota said, refusing to make changes.
He added that he was also asked to change depictions of people lining up at a soup kitchen, as well as some phrases, including “doya,” which is slang for “cheap accommodations.”
“The work cannot establish itself if the changes were made. I feel the intention to cover up the Airin district itself,” Ota said.
A city official said: “The movie has content that hurts the people of the Airin district. We cannot agree to its public screening. This is not censorship.”