The Interview

Sony withdraw film ‘The Interview’

December 19, 2014 | Nick Taylor

Sony Pictures has cancelled the planned release of the film ‘ The Interview, which contains a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

This came after many cinema distributors and chains declined to show the film citing concerns about security.  An organisation calling itself the Guardians of Peace have carried out a cyber attack on Sony and warned the public to stay away from cinemas screening the film.

The US government, National Security Council, has reacted  saying: “We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks – both in the United States and elsewhere. 

“We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression.”

The FBI are investigating the ‘cyber attacks.’

Yesterday, 18 December the Government confirmed that the cancellation of a major film release is being seen as a serious national security matter.  A White House spokesman said the US believed the hacking was the work of a “sophisticated actor” – but refused to confirm if North Korea was responsible.

Sony Pictures said: “we are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie.

“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatre-goers.  We stand by our film makers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

Hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace have released emails and data stolen from Sony in late November.

They warned that ‘the world will be full of fear’ and made threats against cinema-goers who may view the film.

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace was asked to comment and Chief Exceutive, Nick Taylor, spoke to Simon Hoban on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Source: BBC Radio Merseyside

Broadcast 18th December 16:00 (item at 01:12:09)

The Foundation released this statement:

Terrorism is a high impact low frequency event and its intention is to create fear and terror amongst the public and one thing we don’t consider that often is that fear of terror and its consequences often includes targeting business interests.

We have been warning that there is a huge corporate risk and all statistics are backing this and this has to be taken seriously by businesses that operate on a global basis with a huge asset base – we have even seen chocolate companies such as Lindt and their coffee shop and one of their employees killed in Sydney, Australia this week.

There is a major uplift in global terror and business will not be immune. 

As the world becomes unsafe, commercial and corporate interests will always be at risk (this has always been the case – whilst terrorists want to terrorize people they can do that by hitting commercial assets – the Warrington attacks were on a gas installation and then a retail shopping centre).

We carried out a study a year ago showing the ‘cost of peace and the price of extremism’ and its findings highlighted the multi million pounds that are expended as a result of terrorist activity – this is out with the human cost. The cost to society and business is high.

We have been asked by the BBC have Sony ‘lost their bottle/been defeated/surrendered.’

The Foundation believes we should not polarise the issue or rush to judge Sony in simplistic terms like many are doing.

Sony has to consider a number of factors including the upholding of its reputation, they are based globally and of course have huge interests in the Far East, they have a the duty of care to their employees and the safety of their customers to consider. There is a balance any company has to make between risk and upholding freedom of expression. Sony had to be mindful of the cyber attack it has already experienced, the damage this has caused, ongoing threats and also the decision of many cinema distributors not to show the film. We also dont have full access to all the information and the security and corporate risk assessment they will have undertaken. Of course this decison to cancel will be mainly down to interests, but to write off a £26 million production budget means they have real concerns.

Whilst this is unprecedented – films have been cancelled in the past or postponed or even censored.

The Foundation views whilst we have to uphold democracy, freedom of creative expression; artists also have a responsibility to act sensitively and carefully. Comedy and film can explore serious topics but they have to be mindful of the subject matter.

It isn’t a question of ‘caving in’ to terrorism – the challenge we need to tackle terrorism is to eradicate extremism – we do this by challenging behaviours and attitudes, by giving people the skills to think critically and about the consequences of their actions. Film, music, the arts generally and even comedy can do this. But it has to be responsible and North Korea

The US and UK governments treat North Korea as a rogue state, and it is a dictatorship with probably the worse human rights record in the world. It also has the ultimate ‘cult of the personality’ in its so called ‘supreme leader.’ We think the West and in particular those involved in satire and comedy have sought to portray him as some form of comedic figure, which he clearly isn’t, and maybe we should be not worrying so much about a US comedy film and more about how we deal with the serious threat North Korea is to world peace.

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