“God’s Own Country” Director Slams Goldwyn Films For “Butchering” Edits

Alec Secăreanu (top) and Josh O'Connor in Francis Lee's 2017 "God's Own Country."
Straw House Films

Francis Lee, the director of the 2017 gay romantic drama “God’s Own Country,” is “caution[ing]” other directors against working with Samuel Goldwyn Films after the film distributor edited out sexually explicit scenes between stars Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu for the version it provided to Amazon Prime for free streaming.

In a May 20 tweet, Lee wrote, “After investigation ‘God’s Own Country’ was not censored by @PrimeVideo (Amazon USA) but by US distributor @Goldwyn Films who butchered the streaming version without consultation to get more ‘revenue.’”

The prior day, Lee had raised an alarm about the altered version of his film and asked viewers to boycott Amazon Prime pending his inquiry into the matter.

On May 20, he credited Amazon with being “supportive” in straightening out the matter. Sources close to Amazon told indiewire.com that Samuel Goldwyn provided Amazon with the edited version of the film for free streaming purposes. The edits would have allowed Amazon to stream it without any “sexually explicit content,” thereby likely increasing viewership.

Amazon Prime has removed that version and the free streaming option, but is allowing viewers to rent or buy the original theatrical cut of Lee’s film.

“The rental version of ‘God’s Own Country’ on @PrimeVideo is the correct version of my film,” Lee said in his May 20 tweet.

“God’s Own Country” is set in Britain’s Yorkshire region in current day and involves a steamy relationship between a local farmer portrayed by O’Connor and an Romanian migrant worker played by Secăreanu. Though the film has often been compared to Ang Lee’s 2005 “Brokeback Mountain,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, “God’s Own Country” is far more explicit in its depiction of the men’s sexual interaction, including frontal nudity.

Samuel Goldwyn Films did not immediately return phone call and email requests for comment.

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