World, Culture

Cambodia bans screening of Hollywood movie No Escape

Government official says the use of Khmer script in the blockbuster starring Owen Wilson negatively affected local culture

Cambodia bans screening of Hollywood movie No Escape

By Denise Hruby

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

Cambodia has banned movie theaters from screening No Escape, a Hollywood action movie starring Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan, due to concerns over the movie's impact on local culture.

No Escape is a fictitious story centered around a U.S. businessman, played by Owen Wilson, who moves to an unidentified Asian country with his family, gets caught up in a violent coup d'etat and tries to escape.

Sin Chanchaya, director of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts' Department of Film, told the Phnom Penh Post this week that the movie's trailer had caused a stir on Facebook as it showed riot police brandishing shields with emblazoned with what appeared to be Khmer script.

The writing has no apparent meaning and was upside down, but Sin said the movie would have a bad influence on a Cambodian audience.

“We can say that some scenes really affect our culture,” Sin said.

The film was shot in 2013 in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand. 

Sin said that, in order to receive permission to shoot in Thailand, where several coups d'etat have taken place - the last just last year - the production team had to make sure that no scenes would directly identify Thailand as the setting.

“I know they just used this ploy to get permission, but they shouldn’t have used Khmer culture to do it,” he added.

The department had not seen the film before banning it and based its decision solely on the trailer.

Bootleg DVD shops on the capital's popular riverside promenade told Anadolu Agency on Sunday that they plan to offer No Escape DVDs for just $1.50  after it is released in the U.S. on Aug. 26.

“It's a Hollywood movie with good actors so it will be successful when we sell it here,” the owner of one shop said.

Contrary to previous media reports, Thailand's military government, which came to power through a coup not long after the movie was shot there, has approved the film for screening in Thai movie theaters.

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