Film- makers appeal against ban

HARARE - The organisation that produced Democrats-an award-winning documentary that captured proceedings of Zimbabwe’s constitution-making process from 2010 to 2013-has appealed against the decision by the Board of Censors to ban the film from being shown publicly in the country.

The Board of Censors banned the documentary by Upfront Films three weeks ago on the grounds that it was not suitable for public viewing.

But in an appeal dated March 21, Upfront Films argue that the Board of Censors “grossly erred and misdirected itself in banning and prohibiting the film Democrats as the play neither depicts content which is indecent or obscene or is offensive or harmful to public morals.

“Nor is it contrary to the interests of defence, public safety, and public order, as proscribed by the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act [Chapter 10:04].”

Upfront Films, which says it was never afforded the right to be heard, added that “the prohibition and ban of the play is a grossly unreasonable encroachment onto Appellant’s freedom of expression which is constitutionally guaranteed in terms of Section 61(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Since in the opinion of Upfront Films the appeal raises questions of law, appellant wants the Supreme Court to determine whether the decision  to ban Democrats was in conformity  with Section 19 as read with Section 20 (1) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act [Chapter 10:04].

Pending a determination by Supreme Court, Upfront Films wants the ban of Democrats rescinded.

“Upon the Supreme Court making a determination on the questions above, the Appeal Board shall give further directions on the matter as may be necessary in the light of the Supreme Court’s determination,” read part of the appeal.

Directed by American director Camilla Nielsson, the documentary shows the violence that rocked the local constitution-making process that was headed by Zanu PF’s Paul Mangwana and MDC’s Douglas Mwonzora.

“Democrats” scooped the Spa City Best International Documentary Award at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) in the United States of America in October last year. The HSDFF is an Academy-qualifying event which is also the oldest non-fiction festival in North America.

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