Director gives the F-word an airing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 April, 2007, 12:00am

Say it too loudly within earshot of the wrong person and you could end up on a charge. But in a movie now being shown in Hong Kong, it is heard no fewer than 857 times.

It is 'the F-word', and it is still so controversial that on posters for the documentary of the same name, the 'u' has been replaced by an asterisk. But the director is unrepentant.

'It's one of the most famous words in the world,' Steve Anderson said in a telephone interview.

'A good film should cause a strong reaction, either good or bad.'

Examining the place in culture of 'the four-letter word', Anderson spoke to people who use it a lot, people who would never use it and those who do 'it' for a living.

He does not claim to be the vanguard of any battle against censorship, but he says audiences should be able to see what they want and make up their own minds.

'Filmmakers want to tell their story in every way, and [censorship] is certainly something they would fight against,' he said.

'It's good that the public is given appropriate guidelines, but audiences should choose what they want to see,' he said, noting that even with America's vaunted freedom of speech, the poster had to be modified. 'When we were naming the film I wanted to be honest with the audience, and for people to understand that it's a film about language.'

During the 90-minute film, audiences hear from 'Mr Clean', singer Pat Boone, who says he uses his own surname when he needs a swear word. Also featured are the notoriously profane: comedian Billy Connolly; rapper Ice-T; and porn stars Ron Jeremy and Tera Patrick.

Anderson has no fear their messages will be lost in Asia.

'Although there are different languages and alphabets in Asia, it's a word they can still recognise,' the filmmaker said, adding he looked forward to hearing the views of audiences in Hong Kong. 'I hope they will talk about it and decide what is appropriate.'

The filmmaker - who has shot seven documentaries for television in the US, covered the Los Angeles riots, chased accused killer O.J. Simpson up the highway, and interviewed celebrities and politicians - says he is impressed by Bollywood and is interested in making an Asian film.

'As a foreigner, you see different things in local culture,' he said.

Anderson revealed the lead role in his upcoming project Pink Butterfly, a combination of a thriller and a dark comedy, will be played by an Asian.

F*ck will have its second screening of the Hong Kong International Film Festival tomorrow at the Science Museum Lecture Hall in Tsim Sha Tsui.