Camana Bay theatre licensed

Dart: The Golden Compass will be shown

Mr. Syed

Mr. Syed

A government board has agreed to licence a new six theatre cinema opening at Camana Bay on Friday, a decision which allows theatre owners to show films at that location.

But the Cinematographic Authority left the decision about whether to show the controversial film The Golden Compass up to the theatre owners and Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd.

‘The authority is supposed to get an undertaking from the movie theatres (that will) furnish a certificate saying the movies they’re showing, what rating (those) have, and what ratings (do they) fall under in terms of the British and American Censorship Boards,’ said UCCI President Hassan Syed, a member of the Cinematographic Authority.

‘As long as the movie complies with the British and American censorship association requirements, they can show it,’ he said.

Dart spokesperson Susanna Blackburn said Tuesday that film showings in all six theatres, including those showing The Golden Compass, would go ahead as planned.

Mr. Syed said the cinema board had not yet received a list of films that would be playing at the Camana Bay cinemas on Friday. He also said the board did not discuss the Marquee Cinema’s decision to show The Golden Compass at all, since it already has a theatre licence.

The film, based on a trilogy of books by atheist author Philip Pullman, has caused an international uproar among some religious groups that believe that Mr. Pullman is ‘denigrating Christianity’ with his writings.

The Cayman Islands Ministers’ Association has advised parents not to let their children see the film because it might encourage them to read the books.

Mr. Pullman has repeatedly denied accusations that his writings denigrate Christianity.

Mr. Syed said the licence was granted based on the Cinematograph Rules (2003 revision), which grant a licence for film exhibitions Monday through Saturday and for Sunday showings of movies deemed suitable for viewing by children aged 16 years and younger.

The rules further state: ‘No person under the age of 16 years shall be admitted to a public cinematographic exhibition when the film to be exhibited has been designated as unsuitable by the British or American film censorship authorities for viewing by children aged 16 years and under.’

The Golden Compass has been rated PG-13 in the US, which means parental guidance is recommended for viewers younger than 13.

Ms Blackburn said that rating would allow the film to be shown in Cayman on Sundays as well as during the week.

The Cinematographic Authority has the power to enter a theatre and view films for content. Police can get a warrant from the court to seize film reels of movies that are determined to violate local or international regulations.

According to authority members, the decision to display the any film lies with Camana Bay cinema owners. If they show a movie, and it is found to be out of compliance with regulations there’s a problem.

‘The law does not require us to view every bit of (the films),’ Mr. Syed said. ‘If we find that they are violating any of that — it’s a criminal activity.’

Dart officials said they didn’t expect any problems with opening The Golden Compass as planned on Friday.