Kuwait bans ‘Talk to Me’ over inclusion of trans actor

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Australian supernatural horror film Talk to Me has been blocked from release in Kuwait, which is considered to be the region’s strictest market when it comes to censors. And while that might not cause much of a surprise, the reported reason could.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the decision to ban Talk to Me, which has been both a critical and commercial hit internationally and became A24’s second biggest domestic opening after Hereditary with $10 million, has nothing to do with the contents of the film. Instead, it concerns the identity of its star Zoe Terakes, who identifies as nonbinary and trans masculine, and confirmed news of their gender confirming surgery in 2022. Last year it was also announced that Terakes would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first transgender actor when they were cast in the the TV series Ironheart.

Kuwait — and the Gulf in general — has a strong track record of banning films featuring any LBGTQ scenes or references, with the likes of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Thor: Love and Thunder, Lightyear, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Eternals and West Side Story having fallen foul of the censors in the last couple of years. But banning a film because of the gender identity of the one of the cast — which isn’t at all referenced in the movie — is believed to be a new development and could represent the start of worrying trend going forward when it comes to LGBTQ talent.

Despite the news from Kuwait, Talk to Me has already released — without cuts — across all other Gulf territories.

THR has reached out to Front Row, which distributes Talk to Me in the Middle East, for comment.

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