Film directors call out move to ban ‘Plane’ movie in Philippines

February 20, 2023 - 4:47 PM
A still from the 2023 movie "Plane" which features Gerald Butler and Mike Colter as uploaded by the movie's Facebook page on Oct. 27, 2022 (PlaneMovieOfficial/Facebook)

A group of film directors opposed initiatives to reportedly ban the screening of action film “Plane” in the country following some senators’ condemnation of its portrayal of the Philippines.

The Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc (DGPI) said the proposed “ban” on its public showing in local cinemas is “injurious to free expression” and “sets a precedent for films to be held hostage by imagined slights to our country’s reputation.”

DGPI added that it believes “agency and free choice must remain with the public” rather than be “imposed by politicians.”

“To outrightly ban the film, especially one already approved by the MTRCB, is a cure much worse than the illness itself,” the organization said in a statement on February 19.

“If the state can tolerate free expression for trolls, fake news, and historical revisionism without worrying about their effect on the country’s prestige, then the state can do the same for a work that members of the foreign press have regarded as mindless B-movie entertainment rather than a reliable commentary on our country’s affairs,” it added.

DGPI said that it supports the screening of the film, as well as having “open debates” about it, “informing the public of any problematic claims it makes,” or “simply ignoring the film altogether.”

What it doesn’t support, it said, is its “censorship or banning the exhibition” in public cinemas.

The statement comes after the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) promised to “re-evaluate” the film following Sen. Robin Padilla‘s manifestation at the upper house on February 15.

The former action star said that “Plane” portrayed Filipino authorities as being afraid of rebels and that Mindanao’s Jolo has been overrun by militia with no army presence anymore.

“Alam niyo po, napakasakit lang po… Dito sa kanilang pelikula, sinasabi ang ating awtoridada ay naduwag na sa mga rebelde, hindi na po sila umaaksyon at sinabi pa dito ‘they went down somewhere in the Jolo island cluster. It’s run by separatists and militias, the Filipino armies were not there anymore,'” Padilla said.

“Ginoong Pangulo, hindi po dapat ito tanggapin. Sana po, nakikiusap po tayo sa ating MTRCB, na sana po sa mga ganitong ganap, kumakatok tayo sa opisina nila, ‘di po dapat ito pinapalabas sa Pilipinas. Dito po dapat sa ating bansa pinagbabawal ito at kino-condemn po natin ito,” he added.

Padilla also said the movie might also affect the country’s efforts to boost its tourism industry after suffering pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Sen. Bato Dela Rosa, who hails from Mindanao, said he has watched the movie and was “very disgusted” with how his home province, Davao, was portrayed.

“It really painted a bad image sa ating bansa dahil nga Davao, wala kang makitang ganong klaseng lugar na may mga rebelde na ganoon katindi na namumugot ng ulo without apparent reason, pinupugutan ng ulo ang mga foreigner,” he said.

The MTRCB on Thursday acknowledged their sentiments and said that while the film is fictional, they “would not want” the Philippines to be portrayed “in a negative and inaccurate light.”

It added that it would “take all necessary measures if found to be in any way injurious to the prestige of the Philippines or its people.”

RELATED: MTRCB to reevaluate Hollywood film ‘Plane’ for portrayal of Philippines

As of February 18, Padilla said that the MTRCB has promised to ban “Plane” from screening in local cinemas.

“Opo. Ang sabi nila sa akin, kinausap po nila ang distributor. At ngayon, ang gusto natin masulatan natin ang mismong producer,” the senator said in an interview with DWIZ.

Padilla also thanked MTRCB chairperson Lala Sotto for her promise to call the attention of the film’s Philippine distributor.

“Plane” describes itself as “white-knuckle action movie” with the following synopsis:

Pilot Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler) saves his passengers from a lightning strike by making a risky landing on a war-torn island — only to find that surviving the landing was just the beginning.

When most of the passengers are taken hostage by dangerous rebels, the only person Torrance can count on for help is Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), an accused murderer who was being transported by the FBI. I

In order to rescue the passengers, Torrance will need Gaspare’s help, and will learn there’s more to Gaspare than meets the eye.

The movie stars Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, and Tony Goldwyn.

It is directed by Jean-François Richet.

Some critics have described it as a “high-flying action movie as sturdy as its star.”