Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Violence flares over race movie

The Combination
The Combination is still showing at other cinemas around Australia

A film set during the race riots that hit Australia four years ago has been pulled from cinemas in Sydney after fights broke out during screenings.

The Combination centres on tensions between gangs of Australian Lebanese and white youths in Sydney's western suburbs in 2005.

It was pulled by one of Australia's cinema chains, Greater Union, after violence flared outside two cinemas.

The Australian Film Syndicate (AFS) called the move "unprecedented".

Greater Union said it had cancelled screenings of the film in all four of its Sydney cinemas after violent incidents in its suburban Parramatta cinema on Thursday and Saturday nights.

"Maintaining the safety and security of our staff and patrons is our main concern and priority," Greater Union general manager Robert Flynn said in a statement.

AFS managing director Allanah Zitserman said Greater Union's decision to pull the critically-acclaimed film was "devastating for everyone involved, especially for the audiences".

Retaliatory attacks

She said in a statement: "Although we do not support the decision by Greater Union to pull the film from its NSW sites we respect and understand their position."

The Combination, directed by David Field, is set in late 2005, when ugly race riots between white and Lebanese Australians flared at the city's Cronulla Beach.

They sparked a series of retaliatory attacks in which shops, churches and cars were targeted

The film uses actual news footage from the riots as it follows the fortunes of a Lebanese Australian man who is trying to guide his younger brother away from ethnic gang violence.

Ms Zitserman said: "[It] is a powerful, critically acclaimed work that has touched a nerve with the Australian public and deserves to be seen by everyone."

The film can still be seen at other cinema chains in New South Wales state, as well as cinemas in other Australian cities.

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