Samoa refuses to deliver 'Milk'


It’s not often that we get stories from the Pacific island of Samoa. It is a small country and its cinemas are heavily into action, with other Hollywood mainstream product also popular.
Exhibitors there did not even consider Milk, the Oscar-winning drama about San Francisco gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, for their cinemas. However, when the time came for DVD release, a local video chain submitted the film to the Censorship Board. The Board rejected the film without giving any reasons. Principal censor Leiataua Niuapu Faaui simply said,

“There are rules and guidelines for these things.” The general manager of video chain Movies4U, Eteuati Junior Esau, then called for a clear reason for the ban. “My customers are demanding this movie,” he said. Posters for the film are on display in some video stores, which suggests that if you request it, the store may have an imported copy.

Samoa is a strongly religious country, possibly similar to some U.S. Bible Belt communities. Everybody, including tourists, is expected to attend church on Sundays, and everything is closed during those times. I understand that Milk is not banned in American Samoa, a close Pacific neighbor, but a separate country from Samoa.

Australian film veterans Robert Ward and Antony I. Ginnane have formed a new art-house distribution entity, IFM/Filmways. Their first release will be Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn, in late May, to be followed by the French-Canadian comedy The Cop, The Criminal and the Clown (C'est pas moi, C'est l'autre).

Slumdog Millionaire passed the A$20 million mark after 18 weeks in release in Australia. It is the first local A$20 million film for Mel Gibson’s independent distribution company Icon.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at