THE BIG BUZZ FILM last year when I left Toronto was Juno (2007), the Academy Award–winning tale of a teenage girl who accidentally becomes pregnant. “I won’t be seeing that in Abu Dhabi,” I remember joking.
When I moved to the United Arab Emirates, I thought I knew what censorship meant: no nudity or sex (or unmarried, pregnant teenagers) on-screen. This is a Muslim country, after all. What I did not anticipate was that government-mandated edits would impact my critical competence.
Censors do not edit films—they hack them. “Editing” implies sensitivity to narrative, to an artist’s intent and an