Thighs Wide Shut: Tajik Cinema Without The Sex

Foreign films in Tajikistan are going to be leaving a little more to the imagination.

An official with the state film regulatory body and studio, Tojikfilm, said on March 13 that a special commission will soon review foreign films for content, and that scenes with sex or nudity would be edited out before the films could be shown to Tajik audiences.

The decision to censor sex scenes is part of the agency’s updated guidelines, said the official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to brief the media.

According to the official, all nude, erotic, and sexually explicit scenes, as well as any other content that the commission deems inappropriate, would be left on the cutting room floor before the films would be issued a license to be aired on Tajik television channels or screened in cinemas.

Such scenes, the official told RFE/RL's Tajik Service, “are not compatible with our mentality and culture.”

The new guidelines were approved by the government and the regulation to censor sex scenes has already gone into effect, he said.

Tajikistan in the past would on occasion remove sexually explicit elements from foreign films, but there wasn’t an official regulation in place or a special commission for censoring such scenes.

While cinemas remain popular in the former Soviet state with a majority Sunni Muslim population, many Tajiks take advantage of the broad access to foreign films offered on satellite TV as well as the Internet, which would not fall under the new regulations.

A similar commission to vet movies for approval was set up in 2016 in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. The government banned the screening of movies deemed to contain pornographic scenes, rape, and other acts of violence. Scenes that propagated terrorism or called for overthrowing the government by force were also barred.

Fellow Central Asian state Uzbekistan recently suspended the popular Turkish soap opera Endless Love amid criticism that the program undermined religious, moral, and family values.

The soap opera's story line centers on love, forced marriages, sex out of wedlock, adultery, and suicide.