Brokeback Mountain hits local screens
April 7, 2006
Brokeback Mountain hits local screens

People should have the right to read and view whatever they want…the movie is not a threat.
Manager of Cinerama, Simon Kamara.

The controversial film Brokeback Mountain was shown over the weekend in the lone local cinema against the backdrop of surprisingly little controversy.

The movie portraying the life of two homosexual American cowboys has been facing harsh criticism worldwide and was banned in some countries including the Bahamas, and conservative American states such as Utah, while creating heated debate in Jamaica and neighbouring Barbados.{{more}}

Despite good reviews, eight Academy nominations, three Oscars and four Golden Globe Awards, Brokeback Mountain producers were censured by some for their creation.

The movie, directed by Ang Lee, tells the story of two young men – a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy – who met in 1963 and forged a life long connection despite living separate “straight” lives.

Critics have lashed out and vehemently criticized the film as a circuitous attempt to mainstream homosexuality.

One such critic, Pastor George Frederick, believes that movies like this have a powerful influence on people. Frederick is of the opinion that the media, in this case Hollywood, is trying to numb people’s sensitivity by continuously depicting homosexual situations.

“There is a thin line between the projection and the promotion of these films, … if they keep throwing these movies at us, how long can we resist it,” Frederick states.

The pastor and popular host of an Evangelical television programme, Encounter, admitted that there was little criticism of the movie here compared to other countries because of the lack of awareness about the movie and its local screening.

“Our society still projects Christian values… any form of homosexuality is not a part of that,” Pastor Frederick stated.

Searchlight also contacted President of the Christian Council Father Sylvanus Regisford who is calling for an open debate on homosexuality here.

“I have not seen the movie, so I don’t want to pass judgment on it, but I am questioning why is it there is not a censorship board who could have called in the church to help them come to a decision as to whether the movie should be screened?

“There have been whispers about homosexuality in our society, I think we need a public debate on it… it would have to come sooner or later,” Regisford noteded, contrary to Frederick who suggested that the Society is not ready for that sort of public debate: “To deal with the matter objectively you are going to find very few people to come forward. how objective can we be?” Frederick said.

Some local critics have joined in and supported the position of both men of the cloth. According to one, “theatre owners here are probably experimenting to see what kind of movie the public might respond to”, while others thought the movie in general “is a bad influence on young people.”

Despite this, ticket sales at local theatre, Cinerama, over the weekend were in no way dented by the screening of the film.

Manager of the Cinerama Theatres Simon Kamara confirmed that moviegoers did not turn away from his doors on the weekend.

“I think people were basically curious to see the content of the film. in fact people came out from the movie upset at the radio personalities as to how they put over the film. sadly those personalities did not look at the movie, they went on hearsay,” Kamara commented to SEARCHLIGHT, while referring to the negative criticism the film faced locally.

“I understand they attacked me personally as well, but it comes with the territory, I am not going to be moved by that,” Kamara said.

According to Kamara, society would have its own mechanisms through laws and norms on how it is going to regulate things, but in St. Vincent and the Grenadines we are now seeing a shift towards understanding and accepting globalization and the consequences of globalization. with that, he said, you would have different lifestyles evolving in society.

Kamara mentioned that no one in authority should decide what the society looks at.

“People should have the right to read and view whatever they want….the movie is not a threat, if anyone in authority was to say, “Simon, don’t show that movie,” I would rather close the cinema and sell it,” Kamara threatened.

“I will fight tooth and nail to protect people’s human rights….you have Queer as Folk that is shown on cable television in your homes with graphic scenes of homosexuality, none of that exists in Brokeback Mountain. it’s here and I am going to show it for another week.”

The Theatre owner said his decision to show the movie here was based on the nominations at the Academy Awards.

“The movie was nominated eight times, the most out of any given film. I showed it based on the fundamental principle of protection of Rights of the society and, of course, a chance to make some money. the people who might be protesting now would see one day that I am protecting their right to view anything or read anything they want to,” Kamara noted.

Though the movie does not graphically portray prolonged scenes of homosexual activity, critics are questioning the bold portrayal of homosexuality within the context of traditional societal norm.

While some are ready for an open debate on the subject, many are still drawing the line, a clear indication that homophobia, by far, still outweighs any semblance of acceptance.

The question is, is it just a movie or a thinly disguised attempt to mainstream homosexuality.