Home > Defence hot and bothered over Fahrenheit 9/11

Defence hot and bothered over Fahrenheit 9/11

by Open-Publishing - Tuesday 27 July 2004

Movement Cinema-Video Australia Tom Allard

By Tom Allard

The Australian Defence Force stands accused of censorship after it
banned the showing of the inflammatory anti-war blockbuster Fahrenheit
9/11 on military bases, despite requests direct to the distributor from
serving personnel.

The film’s distributor, Hopscotch, confirmed yesterday that a soldier
had approached it for a copy of Michael Moore’s film to show at a
military base cinema.

Hopscotch offered it free and the immediate superiors of the soldier -
who worked at the cinema - approved the showing.

But the request was rejected last Wednesday by Defence headquarters in
Canberra, which has since banned the film at all bases.

Fahrenheit 9/11 lambasts the Iraq war, with graphic footage from inside
Iraq and interviews with grieving relatives of US soldiers who have lost
their lives. It also savages President George Bush and his prosecution
of the war against terrorism.

"Fahrenheit 9/11 is a political film. It is not appropriate for Defence
to be seen to be supporting any film of an overtly political nature," a
Defence Department spokesman said. "ADF members are free to choose
whether to see the film in their free time."
Advertisement Advertisement

Whether the Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, or his staff were
consulted is unclear. The minister’s office did not return the Herald’s
calls yesterday and the Defence Department would not say who made the

The managing director of Hopscotch, Troy Lum, said the soldier who
requested the film - who has asked that neither his name nor the
location of his base be revealed - was disgusted by the ban.

"This guy said everybody on the base was talking about the film and they
want to see it," Mr Lum said. "He also said it was the first time that
anything had been censored. He is disgusted. We are appalled and surprised."

Defence did not dispute Hopscotch’s account that there was an
independent attempt to book the film by ADF personnel.

The director of the Australian Defence Association, Neil James, backed
the ban, saying "political propaganda films aren’t allowed to be shown
on base".