Culture Matters

Spherex's weekly insights into the globalization of entertainment.

Understanding international cultural trends and narratives is critical to the media and entertainment industry’s ability to adapt, evolve and innovate.


Another judge declines to lift ban on lesbian film ‘Rafiki’

The High Court in Mombasa has declined to lift a ban on Rafiki film, a locally-made film that is deemed controversial for featuring lesbian romance. Resident Judge Eric Ogola struck out a constitutional petition that was filed in an attempt to have the ban imposed on the consumption of the film in Kenya lifted. [Kenya]


War-hit Cameroonian town holds film festival as movies get Netflix boost

Filmmakers and actors gathered in the western Cameroon town of Buea for a film festival this week, as the region tries to regain a measure of normalcy despite an ongoing secessionist conflict. The Cameroon International Film Festival was cancelled in 2019 and 2020 because of the conflict between state forces and English-speaking rebels, as well as the coronavirus pandemic. The festival has returned this year and features two Cameroonian films that have been bought by U.S. streaming service Netflix. [Cameroon]


The writer’s ‘regulation’ block

Anubhav Raj (not his real name) has been struggling with the storyline for a new OTT series that he’s been scripting. ‘What if this is inappropriate for kids?’, ‘What if this hurts religious sentiments?’ ‘What if this is perceived as an attack on minorities or majorities?’ These are only some hurdles that question his judgement since the Indian government reworked the script for OTT platforms. [India]


Sri Lanka cabinet nod for laws against “false propaganda” online

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal to draft legislation to combat false and misleading statements on the internet, the cabinet office said today, days after the country’s Justice Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to criminalising social media posts deemed fake. The cabinet has approved a resolution tabled by Justice Minister Ali Sabry and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella to advise Sri Lanka’s Legal Draftsman to draft a bill to “protect society from the harm caused by false propaganda on the internet”, a statement from the cabinet office said. [Sri Lanka]


How directors, distributors and devotees are struggling to keep Hong Kong cinema alive

For the first time in more than 50 years, the upcoming Oscars ceremony [was not] aired in Hong Kong. TVB’s decision not to pursue the broadcasting rights might have been triggered by the nomination of the documentary Do Not Split, which looks back on the 2019 pro-democracy protests. “How Beijing is dealing with our documentary is just the continuation of what we saw during the protests in Hong Kong. The room for democracy is shrinking a lot,” said the film director Anders Hammer on the day the decision was announced. [Hong Kong]


Russia Celebrates Feminist and Queer Films Made by Israeli Women

Russia’s film industry is experiencing contradictory news reports. On one hand, the authorities’ political persecution of the directors of the Artdocfest documentary film festival reached a new peak this month; the organizers were forced to cancel their film screenings in St. Petersburg and Moscow due to homophobia. But on the other hand, the Moscow International Film Festival will open today (Thursday) with plans to screen movies with explosive potential in the conservative country, including a major tribute to female Israeli directors. [Russia]


BBFC appoints 14 young people to inaugural Youth Panel

Today, the BBFC has announced that 14 young people have been appointed to the organisation's inaugural Youth Panel. The panelists were chosen from more than 100 applications and represent all four nations of the UK as well as the LGBTQIA+ community and the neurodivergent community. The BBFC’s Youth Panel will meet once a term, and will be consulted on a range of topics including onscreen depictions of discrimination; mental health representation in films and TV; social media; the film industry. [United Kingdom]


Social platforms should be captured in new media regulations – officials

Internal Affairs has advised that a fresh review of the country’s media content regulatory system is needed. It would look to draw up greater regulatory powers to control harmful content on media sites, and particularly look to extend regulation over social media platforms. Such a review has the potential to rewrite the Broadcasting Standards Act, change the functions of media regulators, and capture social media platforms within the same regulations. The Department of Internal Affairs acknowledges New Zealand media industry regulations are from a pre-internet era. [New Zealand]


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