The National Media Council, the government body responsible for approving the release of films in the UAE, has denied media reports it ordered the censoring of the latest controversial award-winning movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street', amidst reports the film’s distributors made the cuts in advance of submitting it for approval.
The film, which this week won Leonardo Di Caprio a Golden Globe award for best actor, tells the story of Jordan Belfort, a Wall Street stockbroker convicted of fraud in the 90s.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, who also made Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Departed, the film infamously contains the most swear words of any fictional film ever produced – around 546 in total - and more than two dozen scenes depicting sexual activity or illegal drug use.
For the UAE screening, the curse words were removed and scenes of a graphic or sexual nature were removed, reducing the film’s original 180 minute running time by 45 minutes, or nearly a quarter.
However, the head of the National Media Council (NMC) has denied earlier media reports that UAE censors had ordered the cuts. Latest reports also claim it was the film’s UAE distributors who made the changes themselves before submitting it for approval.
“No cuts were made at the request of, or following suggestions from, the National Media Council,” Ibrahim Al Abed, director general of the National Media Council, told Arabian Business.
A spokesperson from Gulf Film, the film’s local distributor, did not answer requests to explain who had ordered the changes to the UAE version of the movie.
“When we asked the distributors, they said they cut all those scenes and words, because they want to distribute the film in GCC,” Juma Obaid Al Leem, director of the NMC’s Media Content Tracking Department, was quoting as saying by Gulf News.
“[We have told them] next time, don’t touch the film. We will make the cuts. We will decide. Maybe some scenes will be accepted. Don’t make any cut outside till they bring the full film and we will decide about the film,” he added.
While some fans of the movie have hit out at the cuts, some cinema operators have placed signs warning cinemagoers of the changes.
“Dear Customers, Kindly be informed that the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” contains muted words, and some scenes have been removed as they were not considered suitable,” a sign warned at Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall, adding that the operators had “no control on the censorship and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
The $100m film has already earned $97m at global box offices since it was released on December 25.
The film is nominated for four British Academy awards this month and is widely expected to be a main contender for the big awards at the Oscars awards in March.