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15th December   Informed Decisions...
 

   
Casino RoyaleBBFC discuss the 12A certificate for Casino Royale

From The Melon Farmers Forum

Salvor comments on a BBFC reply to his email:

"..a clear sense of the content of films and videos/DVDs, to enable people to make informed decisions about their viewing .."

Someone should tell Ofcon! - Informed decisions - precisely!

From the BBFC:

The Board's Guidelines at '12A' state that: "Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood. Sustained moderate threat and menace are permitted". Although the film contains intermittent sight of blood and brief sight of bullet wounds, it lacks the focus that would generate a '15'. Similarly, the torture scene in the film does not contain elements that would have resulted in the film receiving a '15' classification - there is no detail of impact, blood or injury, and the fact that Bond character jokes about the torture, distracts from the implications of what is taking place. It should be pointed out that the use of humour in forms of quips or puns at moments of violence has been a Bond 'signature' throughout the film franchise's long history. They are often used just as Bond has murderously despatched an opponent. The overall tone of Casino Royale is similar to other action adventure films classified '12A' such as the Bourne series.

Although children under 12 may see a '12A' film with an adult, the classification does not indicate that it is suitable for them. Indeed, the classification indicates that the film contains material which may upset or be considered unsuitable for children under 12. As you note, the responsibility for allowing under-12s to view lies with the accompanying adult. The BBFC realises that the maturity and development of children varies considerably, especially around this age, and that the parents know better than anyone else how mature their child is and what content they will be able - and unable - to handle. We have given parents the ability to exercise this decision.

However, we do advise adults to think carefully before taking a child under 12 to see a '12A' film and to this end we provide Consumer Advice (CA) to help them make an informed decision about what their children view. We provide Consumer Advice (CA) for every film and DVD we classify. The purpose of CA is to convey to the public (particularly those responsible for children) a clear sense of the content of films and videos/DVDs, to enable people to make informed decisions about their viewing and that of their children. It is also used to signal the presence of material which may be of particular issue to some viewers (for example, a child abuse theme). This CA is usually displayed on the publicity and packaging of films and DVDs. It is also available on our main website. The CA for Casino Royale notes that the film contains "one scene of torture and strong action violence" which should indicate to parents the nature of the film, and its suitability for their children to view.

The BBFC is confident that the version currently being shown in UK cinemas is the version we have classified.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to express your views to us. I trust this response has gone some way in reassuring you that the BBFC takes its function of classifying film and video/DVD works seriously, and that we are taking significant steps in making the viewing public aware of what they plan to watch. Please be assured that the BBFC takes these issues seriously, and that your comments will be noted.

 

13th December  BBFC Not Bullied

Bully Playstation game "Often the truth is far less dramatic than the myth that's put around it"

From GamesIndustry.biz

Gianni Zamo, senior examiner for the BBFC, has defended the decision to award Rockstar's Canis Canem Edit (originally titled Bully)  a 15 certificate.

You can understand the concerns of a subject that hits the headlines fairly frequently in this country. Often the truth is far less dramatic than the myth that's put around it, Zamo told GamesIndustry.biz: Certainly Canis Canem Edit is not the monster, demon game that's going to turn our children into horrific and violent individuals.

Many of those who campaigned against the release of Canis Canem Edit criticised the game for featuring violence between schoolchildren and against teachers. But according to Zamo, the violence is neither as graphic nor as gratuitous as may have been assumed: It's much more considered in its approach I would say, and quite carefully balanced in terms of what you can get away with as this character and the consequences of anything you might do.

It's not just a free-for-all, go out and kick the living daylights out of everybody - there are penalties for engaging in anti-social behaviour, so I think Rockstar have been careful to balance it out in that respect.

Canis Canem Edit was released in the UK on October 27 and went straight into the all-formats top ten, despite the refusal of some major retailers to stock the game. Canis Canem Edit is currently at number eight in the PS2 software chart.

 

19th November  Railroading the Censors

Crossrail logoSurely off topic but I would hate to see the BBFC get disturbed from their unvaluable work of censoring our hardcore.

From Hansard

The BBFC, as you will be aware from your site visit, has premises which run from 3 Soho Square, which is its frontage, through to 7 Dean Street, at the rear. The BBFC obviously discharges a statutory function in terms of film classification. It is located above and between the proposed running tunnels of Crossrail and adjacent to the proposed Tottenham Court Road Station western ticket hall. On the map you can see the running tunnels and the blue line which comes up under the building is where there would be an escalator coming up towards the surface.

The Petitioner's main concerns relate to the effect of airborne noise on the upper part of the premises, from construction work particularly; the effect of dust from construction; and the effect of ground-borne noise from construction and operations on the basement film theatre.

 

19th November  Regulation On Demand!

DCMS logoThe police have also been sniffing around the concept of somehow enforcing the repressive Video Recordings Act on download material. There is an article about this in the Adult Industry trade paper, ETO. But really I cannot even guess where they are coming from to suggest that the Act applies to computer communications.

From Hansard

David Cooke, the director of the BBFC, and Peter Johnson, Head of Policy had a session in the House of Commons with the Culture, Media And Sport Committee: New Media And The Creative Industries.

David Cooke

Our fundamental concern is about what might happen in the future, starting right now when things could be very different and we would face not so much a loophole but possibly a bypassing of the Video Recordings Act in quite a major way. Let me just try and explain this. Last year 17,000 titles were classified by the BBFC and 13,000 of those were DVDs, so that is very much the bulk of our business at the moment. In principle, all of those titles could at some point in the future migrate to distribution by download rather than in physical format.

Lawyers disagree about what precisely the impact of the Video Recordings Act is in that situation, but I think that the general view is that the Video Recordings Act probably would not bite. That has not been tested in the courts yet.

That could produce a situation in which our current, we believe, quite well respected and trusted system of age ratings and consumer advice would cease to apply and we know from our workload at the moment that there would be some very abusive material included in that content, and we have given some examples of some of that in our evidence. Self-regulation would obviously apply in that context but the question is really do we believe that that would be adequate or would we be in the kind of situation that we faced in the early 1980s with the concerns on video nasties.

We think that there are probably two broad approaches to tackling this problem.

We are certainly not pitching to trespass on anybody else's patch or to rub up against other regulators and we are certainly not pitching to try and regulate all downloads, which will constitute a huge and variegated mass of material, but we do think it would be possible to look quite carefully to seek to identify that part of the download market which would be very similar to DVD retail and DVD rental and to seek to bring that within the Video Recordings Act. That would be one approach. We can well see that that would be controversial and would be against the tenor of some of the other discussions you have had in the Committee.

Another approach which could be considered, either in conjunction or separately, would be to look at what kind of co-regulatory offerings were possible in this new environment. We believe that our expertise and the trust which BBFC ratings and consumer advice have and the high recognition factor that our ratings have, are the kinds of things that would enable us to play a part.

 

19th October  You Know Where You Can Put Your Lousy Censorship!

From The UK Hardcore

I decided to get my feet wet in the UK DVD market with a video I was going to call, Foot in Arse Disease. I submitted it to the censorship board for evaluation and I expected a few "cuts" would have to be made. Now I freely admit that it has absolutely no redeeming social value. However, I got told I would have to remove or re-edit 42 minutes worth of the footage. If I cut out that much my entire video would have run time of 24 minutes and almost no hardcore at all.

Being Canadian, this isn't the first time I've dealt with film review boards. But unlike England, in Canada, they work slightly differently. The conversation is more like this, Yea Boss, I'll cut out that really bad 10 seconds of full anal fisting. Now, just tell me who to pay for this wonderful public service of protecting society from a full fist attack? And yes, I can talk like that to a government official; there will be no repercussion, we are both just trying to do our jobs.

In all seriousness, there is no reason at all this video needs to be edited that much. (And under these conditions, I'm really looking at re-shooting.) In fact there isn't even any real sex in it at all, this is for a popular fetish. Each scene is some little girl stuffing her shoe or foot in a man's arsehole and mocking him while he masturbates and ejaculates on himself. No one is choked, beaten, spat on and I never even showed a man's bleeding bunghole.

I've called my attorney and I'm going to sue!  I'm going to release it in the states and I'm going to monopolize on the fact that this video was essentially BANNED in the UK.

All that aside for the moment and I am left to wonder... Why does a CANADIAN have to fight for the United Kingdom's rights to Freedom of Speech/Expression?

 

13th October
 Bully for the BBFC

From Spong

Bully Playstation game Rockstar’s just sent word that Canis Canem Edit ('Dog Eat Dog', the formerly named, controvo-fest that was Bully) has been given a 15-rating in the UK by the BBFC.

Interesting news, particularly in light of the surprising amount of misinformed bad press the game has garnered since it was first announced back in May 2005.

SPOnG’s played CCE - extensively - and we can assure you that, as well as being a solid nine (at least) it’s nothing at all like the muck-raking, game-hating Jack Thompsons of this world would have us believe.

The BBFC's 15-rating is perfectly fair and valid, as the Rockstar rep SPOnG just came off the phone with was happy to point out. The game contains some content unsuitable for minors, so it shouldn't be sold to younger teenagers. But to criticise the game for encouraging bullying in schools is so far off the point, it's actually hilarious.

Canis Canem Edit releases later this month in the UK exclusively on PS2.

 

19th  September  Explicit Praise

The latest explicit but 18 rated film seems to have made a good impression on the Guardian.

From The Guardian

Shortbus posterAs It is a feel-good romantic comedy in the traditional sense, with break-ups and reconciliations alongside laughs and tears. But it also has more real and graphic sex than any other film to be given a certificate for the mainstream cinema.

Shortbus begins with a startling scene of self-fellatio and has three ejaculations before you have made a mark on your popcorn. There are unsimulated scenes of straight sex, gay sex, orgy sex, onanistic sex, lesbian sex, voyeuristic sex and probably other categories besides.

Yet Shortbus has received a standard 18 certificate, and will get a gala performance at the 50th annual London film festival. The festival's artistic director, Sandra Hebron, praised the censors' decision: It says a lot about the BBFC that they have started to credit people with the ability to make choices.

Shortbus is the name of a polysexual New York salon where open-minded people of all ages go to discuss politics, play spin the bottle and have rampant, unabashed sex.

If this all sounds a bit too much for a nice night at the pictures, you may be surprised. At screenings in London this month the audience applauded what in many ways is a genuinely nice and uplifting and traditional romantic comedy.

Shortbus will be the LFF's Film on the Square gala movie on October 24 and released in UK cinemas on December 1.

 

5th July
updated to
2nd October
 Destricted

From The Melon Farmers' Forum

Destricted posterThe BBFC have passed Destricted uncut with an 18 certificate giving advice:
with Strong Real Sex.

The film is a compilation of erotic shorts from various film makers on the subject of sex and porn.

From Peter

Some of the films are said to be as explicit as an R18 and, to the untrained eye, could be mistaken for one, so it does raise interesting questions about the difference between art and porn.

Good on the BBFC giving it an uncut 18: an R18 for such a work would have been a commercial disaster. Let`s hope that it really is the first of a series, as suggested on the project`s web site www.destricted.com

Review from imdb

I just watched this film at Sundance. Clearly the most challenging portion of this film for the audience was Gasper Noe`s use of strobe for his part of the film titled We F--- Alone. A good fifth of the audience cleared out during We F--- because they were bothered by the strobing. During the Q&A following the film when asked why he used the effect Noe replied, "Because it looks better." The style used in We F--- Alone may not appeal to most audiences, but the premise of the film promised shorts by director`s giving their impression of the world of porn and We F--- Alone was obviously Gasper Noe`s take on the world of porn.

Other engaging portions of the film included Matthew Barney`s Hoist, which involved a man having sex with a industrial machine lifted a dozen feet off the ground; Larry Clarks Doc/ Porn, hosting try outs for young men willing to satisfy their dreams of being a porn star; Marco Brambilla`s amazing short splicing together frames from his own porn collection. The rest of the other shorts mixed in seemed to lack depth and were rather bland with the exception of Marina Abramovic`s vignettes on superstitious Balkan sexual behavior which was very funny.

The movie is all that is promised and is an absorbing take on porn from these artistic talents. This isn`t something to watch on a television and should be experienced in the theater environment.

 

6th July  Update: Destricted Not Restricted

From The Telegraph

Destricted posterTate Modern is to hold the British premiere of one of the year's most explicit films, a hard-core sex anthology billed as art. Destricted, an Anglo-American production, is a two-hour compilation of seven short films made by artists and independent film-makers who were commissioned to explore the fine line where art and pornography intersect.

It features numerous acts of sexual intercourse. The contribution of the British artist Sam Taylor-Wood, the wife of the Old Etonian art dealer Jay Jopling, is an eight-minute scene of a man masturbating outdoors in Death Valley. Another section shows a man having sex with the driveshaft of a 50-ton lorry.

After considerable agonising, the BBFC granted an 18 rating for Destricted this week, to be released uncut on DVD. But it said that it must carry a warning that it "contains strong, real sex".

A source at the board described the film as "awful". Unusually, it was not approved until it had been seen by the board's president, Sir Quentin Thomas.

The board had considered granting an R18 classification, reserved for work intended to be arousing. That would have meant that a Destricted DVD could be sold only in sex shops and would have ruled out the possibility of its being put on sale in the shop at Tate Modern, where the film is to be given five screenings in September.

Sir Quentin said that Destricted was so explicit that it would normally attract an R18 rating but he judged that it was a work of art not intended to arouse:
In purpose and effect, this work is plainly a serious consideration of sex and pornography as aspects of the human experience. We think that there are no grounds for depriving adults of the ability to decide themselves whether they want to see it.
 

19th August  Update: Turnips at the BBFC

Based on an article from Time Out

Destricted posterI'm sitting in the  offices of the BBFC talking about the dangers of pushing a vegetable up one's backside. It's this precarious act  that artist Matthew Barney embraces in his new short film Hoist, in which we see the director feigning sex with a throbbing industrial machine while gripping the outer reaches of a turnip between his butt cheeks.

Actually, we thought it might be a sugar beet, offers a straight-faced Sue Clark, head of publicity at the BBFC, who is talking alongside her colleague, Craig Lapper.

Hoist is one of seven 'porno' short films that producers Mel Agace and Neville Wakefield have commissioned from seven artists and filmmakers packaged together as the portmanteau film, Destricted.

Despite the film's ample cum-shots, copious hard-ons and irregular use of a root vegetable, the BBFC has awarded Destricted an '18' certificate – not the usual 'R18' reserved for hardcore porn. We wouldn't describe the film as pornographic, explains Lapper:
One of the Board's aims is to take account of the intentions of a filmmaker and the film's likely audience. This wasn't a film intended to arouse sexually. It's possible that some segments may have that effect on some people, but the overall intention of the film was to explore the boundaries between pornography, sex and art.

The BBFC enjoys a reputation for taking a sensible and liberal approach to its work. Last year, for example, it gave an '18' to two features containing scenes of real sex. One was Carlos Reygadas' Battle in Heaven (blow-jobs); the other was Michael Winterbottom's Nine Songs(bonking).

I think the Board puts more emphasis now than it did ten years ago on the rights of adults to make their own decisions, suggests Lapper when I ask him if the BBFC has become more liberal. That's come about partly as a result of what the public has told us and also because of increasing commitments under the law to do with human rights and so forth.

In the past, even at the adult level, the board would intervene with material on the basis that it was "disturbing" or "offensive" or "tasteless". We tend not to make those kind of decisions now. It's more about harm and legality. We do take into account public offence, but we have to weigh that up against other considerations. So if something's merely challenging or shocking, and if we're not convinced that there's a harm issue there, we prefer to allow adults to make their own decisions.

Interestingly, while the BBFC has been moving towards greater liberalism, some odd exceptions have arisen when rating older work. Take a recent DVD collection of episodes of The Benny Hill Show, for example; the BBFC found that Hill was making jokes at the expense of rape victims and awarded a '12' rating rather than the previous 'PG'. When episodes of the '70s British sitcom Love Thy Neighbour  were released on DVD, the BBFC again opted for a hike from 'PG' to '12'.

 

7th September   Update: Destricted on Restricted Release

Thanks to Peter

From the Times

Destricted posterCongratulations have to go to the BBFC for giving this an 18. Taken as a whole, It certainly doesn't look like an R18 but it's as explicit as an R18 and one of the films in the collection appears to have been taken directly from porn film...

  • Tate Modern London, from 6th September
  • Curzon Soho, 15 & 16 Sept
  • Cameo, Edinburgh, 15 & 16 Sept
  • Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, 16 & 17 Sept
  • Fact Liverpool, 18th Sept
  • Barbican Centre London, 20th Sept
  • York Picturehouse Brighton, 20th Sept
  • Tyneside Newcastle, 20th Sept
  • ICA, London 21st Sept
  • IFI Dublin, 30th Sept

The DVD release has been set for September 25th 2006

 

2nd October  Update: Destricted Chart Success at Woolies

Thanks to Matthew

Destricted posterI was browsing the web today, as I'd been thinking of getting a copy of Destricted to see what the fuss was all about. And that's when I came across the 'Woolworths' DVD chart...

www.woolworths.co.uk/ww_p2/browse/index.jhtml?cat=cat30136

Should 'Woolworths' really be stocking this title? I mean, they hardly ever seem to have foreign titles on their shelves. Let alone hardcore pornography! Well, it seems to have been a good move on their part - Destricted is at Number 5 in their DVD sales!! Brilliant. Lets hope 'Woolworths' continues to distribute taboo-breaking material to the masses.
 

4th October  Comment: Destricted Chart Accuracy

Thanks to Jak

Destricted posterI'm as shocked as most that Destricted is on sale at Woolies. However it is not all good news.

The number 5 ranking on their charts is all bollocks. Several years back I was looking for a CD that was due for release around that time. The shop assistant actually took out a few weeks charts to see if it was going to be released in the near future. I was shocked that Woolies actually published charts in advance - how the hell could they know what they will sell the most of!

So, great that Woolies have stocked the film and promoted it as a top 10 seller - just a shame that it might not actually shift that many copies or even sell far more than the no. 1.

 

4th  September
 Not Yet Rated DVD coverBottom Line

From The Guardian

As the new documentary, Not Yet Rated,  lambasts the US movie censors, Xan Brooks meets the BBFC, who decide when pornography becomes art in the UK.

Read the article here

 

3rd  September
 Dare DevilsDare Devils at the BBFC

By Rob Stone


The BBFC didn't like the idea of cut scenes being downlaodable from the Internet. Read the fascinating story of the censorship of Dare Devils
here

 

23rd August
 Cock-A-Doodle-To-Do

The Act states clearly that such films cannot be exhibited in public, whether money is changing hands or not (section 3). I am sure that would include Festival screenings, where members of the public can attend. However, if you exclusively invited particular individuals to come and see the film at a private location (to which members of the public were not invited and could not apply to attend) that would probably be ok.

I don't suppose there is much chance of change but it does seem a bit over the top to censor classic and historic films when the industry has moved on and would never show real cruelty anymore anyway. But it certainly sounds a shame. Perhaps a word to an MP may help but it is probably one of those issues that politicians would rather not get involved with.

The uncut region 1 DVD is available at US Amazon

From The Times

Cockfighter DVD coverOne of the most eagerly awaited screenings at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival was cancelled last night after the organisers learnt that the film violated a 70-year-old animal cruelty law.

Cockfighter, a brutal American drama set in the Deep South, was shot on a shoestring budget and is notorious for its footage of real cockfights. It made little impression on its release in 1974 but is now regarded as a cult classic by many critics, who say that the magnificent, brooding performance of Warren Oates as the cock trainer is proof of the film’s merit.

Rarely shown in Britain, Cockfighter appeared to be an ideal choice for the festival’s retrospective of obscure 1970s masterpieces. However, according to the BBFC, showing it in public is illegal.

The festival organisers said that they were unaware of this until they received representations from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA).

Of course it’s disappointing, Ginnie Atkinson, the festival’s managing director, said. It is a very anomalous, strange situation, because there is a genuine, historical context for showing it.

A spokeswoman for the board said that the film contravened the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937 because the cockfighting scenes were organised for the purpose of filming. There’s nothing the festival organisers could have done. The Act makes it illegal to show any scene which was organised or directed for the purpose of the film involving actual cruelty to animals. If you cut the cockfighting scenes from Cockfighter it doesn’t have anything in it.

Cockfighter had a gala premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1974 and was shown at the National Film Theatre in 1995. Both screenings were illegal, according to the BBFC. The film is not available in this country because it has never been classified in Britain, but it can be bought on DVD abroad and imported.

Review from US Amazon

Warren Oates plays Frank Mansfield in 1974's Cockfighter. Although outlawed in most states, cockfighting was legal in Georgia, and Oates portrays a top trainer. However, Mansfield is also a deeply flawed man whose success leads him to recklessness. On the night before a major fight, he impetuously enters a cockfight that ends badly. At that moment, he takes a vow of silence, which he will not break until he can regain his position in the sport. Throughout most of the movie, therefore, Oates is mute, with his thoughts serving as narration.

Warren Oates is truly great in this role. His weathered face and ability to portray unsympathetic characters in a likeable manner bring great authority to this film. Although perhaps best known for his appearances in Peckinpah films (The Wild Bunch, Ride the High Country), he also did extraordinary work in a number of lesser known 1970's films: Two-Lane Blacktop, Badlands, Rancho Deluxe.

Director Monte Hellman was a collaborator with legendary producer Roger Corman, and he's simply one of the most underappreciated filmmakers of the 1970s. He specialized in spare, low-key character studies, such as Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). This film is so vibrant because of his talent for using naturalistic settings and minimalist direction. His style is perfectly suited to this script, which was adapted by Charles Willeford from his novel of the same name. The book is out-of-print, but Willeford is a marvelous writer of noir and gritty fiction.

Despite being a solid character study, the film is probably of limited appeal. For the most part, the sport of cockfighting (if you consider it a sport) serves only as the background, and the characters drive the film. However, the sport is presented in an unflinching manner. The bloody and violent aspects of cockfighting are not glossed over in any way. Thus, this film is definitely not for people who are squeamish or extremely passionate about humane treatment of animals. In ways, though, the film is reminiscent of Peckinpah, who made violent deaths in The Wild Bunch seem almost operatic in their grandeur. Watching the cockfights depicted here is almost sickening, but Hellman manages to capture their bizarre magnificence as well. If you can set aside your distaste for the topic matter, then you will be treated to some great acting and directing and a truly unique cinematic experience.

 

 

11th August  BBFC Rise Above the German Zombie Censors

From Boom Town

Dead Raising game boxYou may have read that Dead Rising is having a rough ride in some countries, with a censored version in Japan and rejection by the German ratings board. However here in the UK, the BBFC - a much more enlightened organisation in recent years - has passed the game uncut with an 18 rating.

Dead Rising is considered a fairly straightforward 18, said a BBFC spokesperson: We take the view that at 18, unless there is something harmful in the game, we have no reason to intervene as far as adults are considered, There is no clear evidence that playing games leads to copycat behaviour. We would only intervene if a game was going further than any other game in terms of interactivity and the 'thrills' it offers a gamer.

While Dead Rising is undoubtedly bloody, the cartoon nature of the violence meant the BBFC wasn't worried about the gore.

The game is gory, but it's not detailed and the violence is not sadistic, and it's focused against zombies. There's a fantasy element attached, and there's a sense of humour, albeit a macabre one. There's a lot of blood in the game, and the player is required to take gory photos, but there are no close-ups and no depictions of sexually motivated violence, which is something we might consider harmful.

 

5th July
updated to
19th August
 Destricted

From The Melon Farmers' Forum

Destricted posterThe BBFC have passed Destricted uncut with an 18 certificate giving advice:
with Strong Real Sex.

The film is a compilation of erotic shorts from various film makers on the subject of sex and porn.

From Peter

Some of the films are said to be as explicit as an R18 and, to the untrained eye, could be mistaken for one, so it does raise interesting questions about the difference between art and porn.

Good on the BBFC giving it an uncut 18: an R18 for such a work would have been a commercial disaster. Let`s hope that it really is the first of a series, as suggested on the project`s web site www.destricted.com

Review from imdb

I just watched this film at Sundance. Clearly the most challenging portion of this film for the audience was Gasper Noe`s use of strobe for his part of the film titled We F--- Alone. A good fifth of the audience cleared out during We F--- because they were bothered by the strobing. During the Q&A following the film when asked why he used the effect Noe replied, "Because it looks better." The style used in We F--- Alone may not appeal to most audiences, but the premise of the film promised shorts by director`s giving their impression of the world of porn and We F--- Alone was obviously Gasper Noe`s take on the world of porn.

Other engaging portions of the film included Matthew Barney`s Hoist, which involved a man having sex with a industrial machine lifted a dozen feet off the ground; Larry Clarks Doc/ Porn, hosting try outs for young men willing to satisfy their dreams of being a porn star; Marco Brambilla`s amazing short splicing together frames from his own porn collection. The rest of the other shorts mixed in seemed to lack depth and were rather bland with the exception of Marina Abramovic`s vignettes on superstitious Balkan sexual behavior which was very funny.

The movie is all that is promised and is an absorbing take on porn from these artistic talents. This isn`t something to watch on a television and should be experienced in the theater environment.

 

6th July  Update: Destricted Not Restricted

From The Telegraph

Destricted posterTate Modern is to hold the British premiere of one of the year's most explicit films, a hard-core sex anthology billed as art. Destricted, an Anglo-American production, is a two-hour compilation of seven short films made by artists and independent film-makers who were commissioned to explore the fine line where art and pornography intersect.

It features numerous acts of sexual intercourse. The contribution of the British artist Sam Taylor-Wood, the wife of the Old Etonian art dealer Jay Jopling, is an eight-minute scene of a man masturbating outdoors in Death Valley. Another section shows a man having sex with the driveshaft of a 50-ton lorry.

After considerable agonising, the BBFC granted an 18 rating for Destricted this week, to be released uncut on DVD. But it said that it must carry a warning that it "contains strong, real sex".

A source at the board described the film as "awful". Unusually, it was not approved until it had been seen by the board's president, Sir Quentin Thomas.

The board had considered granting an R18 classification, reserved for work intended to be arousing. That would have meant that a Destricted DVD could be sold only in sex shops and would have ruled out the possibility of its being put on sale in the shop at Tate Modern, where the film is to be given five screenings in September.

Sir Quentin said that Destricted was so explicit that it would normally attract an R18 rating but he judged that it was a work of art not intended to arouse:
In purpose and effect, this work is plainly a serious consideration of sex and pornography as aspects of the human experience. We think that there are no grounds for depriving adults of the ability to decide themselves whether they want to see it.
 

19th August  Update: Turnips at the BBFC

Based on an article from Time Out

Destricted posterI'm sitting in the  offices of the BBFC talking about the dangers of pushing a vegetable up one's backside. It's this precarious act  that artist Matthew Barney embraces in his new short film Hoist, in which we see the director feigning sex with a throbbing industrial machine while gripping the outer reaches of a turnip between his butt cheeks.

Actually, we thought it might be a sugar beet, offers a straight-faced Sue Clark, head of publicity at the BBFC, who is talking alongside her colleague, Craig Lapper.

Hoist is one of seven 'porno' short films that producers Mel Agace and Neville Wakefield have commissioned from seven artists and filmmakers packaged together as the portmanteau film, Destricted.

Despite the film's ample cum-shots, copious hard-ons and irregular use of a root vegetable, the BBFC has awarded Destricted an '18' certificate – not the usual 'R18' reserved for hardcore porn. We wouldn't describe the film as pornographic, explains Lapper:
One of the Board's aims is to take account of the intentions of a filmmaker and the film's likely audience. This wasn't a film intended to arouse sexually. It's possible that some segments may have that effect on some people, but the overall intention of the film was to explore the boundaries between pornography, sex and art.

The BBFC enjoys a reputation for taking a sensible and liberal approach to its work. Last year, for example, it gave an '18' to two features containing scenes of real sex. One was Carlos Reygadas' Battle in Heaven (blow-jobs); the other was Michael Winterbottom's Nine Songs(bonking).

I think the Board puts more emphasis now than it did ten years ago on the rights of adults to make their own decisions, suggests Lapper when I ask him if the BBFC has become more liberal. That's come about partly as a result of what the public has told us and also because of increasing commitments under the law to do with human rights and so forth.

In the past, even at the adult level, the board would intervene with material on the basis that it was "disturbing" or "offensive" or "tasteless". We tend not to make those kind of decisions now. It's more about harm and legality. We do take into account public offence, but we have to weigh that up against other considerations. So if something's merely challenging or shocking, and if we're not convinced that there's a harm issue there, we prefer to allow adults to make their own decisions.

Interestingly, while the BBFC has been moving towards greater liberalism, some odd exceptions have arisen when rating older work. Take a recent DVD collection of episodes of The Benny Hill Show, for example; the BBFC found that Hill was making jokes at the expense of rape victims and awarded a '12' rating rather than the previous 'PG'. When episodes of the '70s British sitcom Love Thy Neighbour  were released on DVD, the BBFC again opted for a hike from 'PG' to '12'.

 

30th June  Extreme Films Research

From Martin Barker, to all readers of Melonfarmers:

Irreversible DVD coverHere is a very rare opportunity. We are doing some serious research into how audiences feel about, and respond to, films involving sexual violence. And we really want to include your views. If you don’t have time to read on through this message, then please at least notice this web address: www.extremefilmsresearch.org.uk

I think quite a few of you will know my name, and that I have long had an interest in issues around ‘effects’, and have been very critical of a lot of standard claims about this. Well, partly as an outcome of this, and of some other research I have done (on audience responses to Straw Dogs), we have gained the funding support to mount a research project from Aberystwyth into responses to five films which gave the BBFC pause for thought. In four cases they made cuts, of varying ‘strengths’. In the fifth case, they passed the film uncut. The five films are:

A Ma Soeur
Baise-Moi
House on the Edge of the Park
Ichi the Killer
Irreversible


The idea we pitched to the BBFC, was for a project to find out how actual (rather than possible or guessed at) audiences really felt about and responded to these films – and in particular, how they felt about the contribution that the scenes of sexual violence make to the films, and what differences any cuts made to the films. One part of this project involves the questionnaire which we have posted on a special website. We are not assuming you will have liked, or enjoyed, or approve of these films – in fact the whole point of the research is to try to get all kinds of responses to them. But whatever your views on them, it will help us greatly if you would complete the questionnaire, for as many of the five films as you have seen.

The BBFC have guaranteed that we can publish the findings of the research in any form that we choose. I will make sure that in due course we let everyone know, via Melonfarmers, where and how the findings will be published. The BBFC will listen to what we learn. It is then up to them if and how this influences their future policy on films of this kind. Our job is simply to make sure our research is strong and reliable.

So, please visit the research website and complete the questionnaire if you can – and tell other people, both in the UK and elsewhere.

Thanks very much

Martin

 

25th May
Updated to
22nd June
 Carry On State Censorship

Press release from the BBFC

BBFC President Calls For Forum To Consider New Media Regulation

Protected by BBFC WackosIn light of the rapidly growing range of audio visual content on offer via a range of media, the President of the BBFC, Sir Quentin Thomas, has called on the Government to bring together commercial and creative interests along with those operating the regulatory regimes to consider how best to provide the public with the information they need to choose which content they wish to consume and how to protect children and vulnerable people from harm.

Writing in his introduction to the BBFC’s Annual Report Sir Quentin said:
As the audio visual content on offer to the public grows rapidly, with a marked diversity in the nature of the medium and in the means of delivery or access, it is perhaps not surprising that some observers of this dynamic but confusing scene conclude that there is little future for regulation and the attempt to maintain it seems like attempting to shut the stable door when the horse has bolted. At the BBFC we do not share this view.

The BBFC’s Director David Cooke said:
We are putting a good deal of effort into researching, and speaking to others about, the implications of the growth of new media for our system of regulation. We do not argue for regulation except where it is genuinely needed. But effective regulation has clear benefits: the prevention of harm; enabling informed choices; creating a safe environment within which to enjoy creative content. We regularly see and deal with material, whether so-called ‘extreme reality’, abusive pornography, or simply content which is unsuitable for the age group to whom it is addressed, where our intervention is clearly necessary. No-one should assume that such material will be confined to established platforms such as film and DVD. Whether in a regulatory or an advisory capacity, we believe we have unique expertise and experience to offer.

Sir Quentin said:
There is no doubt that regulation must serve a relevant social purpose, and not needlessly be an impediment between the customer and the services available. Regulatory regimes must command and sustain public confidence and be fit for purpose. There is good reason for thinking that because of the nature of audio visual product and its potential impact the public is likely to expect some oversight, particularly with a view to the protection of children. We believe that there is also a strong commercial interest in demonstrating that product in this field meets accepted standards. Nonetheless, the rapidly shifting nature of the media scene, with new technological possibilities means that these issues need to be kept under review. We welcome the enquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into new media and the creative industries and would welcome the establishment of a forum perhaps under the auspices of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to advance consideration of these issues.

The BBFC 2005 Annual Report includes the accounts for the year along with information about the work of the Board during the year. Copies of the Annual Report can be obtained from the BBFC, 3 Soho Square, London W1D 3HD or can be downloaded from the BBFC main website, www.bbfc.co.uk (select 'downloads' option on home page)

 

19th June  Update: Stupid Intervention

From The Times

Protected by BBFC WackosThe Times has picked up the above story and added a couple of comments:

Simon Davies, of Privacy International, which campaigns for freedom of expression said It sounds like the most stupid intervention since the registration of fax machines and photocopiers in communist China.

Sue Clark, a spokeswoman for the board, said that people should be able to
make informed choices about what to watch. Regulation, in this case, doesn’t mean banning or cutting. It is about providing information.

 

20th June  Update: BBFC Wackos

Based on an article from The Guardian

Protected by BBFC WackosVideo content on the internet could receive certificate 18-style classifications from film censors under plans submitted to the government today. The proposals could see web videos rated for language, violence, sex and themes in the same way as films, videos and DVDs.

The BBFC said the huge growth of online video content risked making the regulation of old media redundant as more and more people get access to video over the internet.

Internet video has mushroomed in recent years, with the spread of broadband and content-streaming technologies making downloading high-quality footage easier. The video site YouTube sees 35,000 new clips added and 30m clips downloaded every day, while it would take almost 500 years to watch all the content currently indexed by Blinkx, which claims to be the largest online video search engine.

Sue Clark, a spokeswoman for the BBFC, said the government should be looking at ways of providing information to online viewers about the sort of material they were being exposed to:
If there's some sort of standardised labelling system that people understand, then they know that it's material they can trust.

And shamefully added: We don't want to go down the route of cutting and banning things and blocking sites...BUT... a lot of the content that's out there on the internet is not something the majority of people would want to view. [...Which they WILL of course cut and ban...] She cited the example of Terrorists, Killers and Middle East Wackos, a compilation of video clips of actual killings and terrorist attacks. The compilation is banned on video or DVD in the UK because the BBFC believed it to contravene the Obscene Publications Act, but it is freely available on the internet through file-sharing sites.

And for an organisation that doesn't want to go down the route of cutting and banning things, it has been reported that 27% of softcore 18 certificate video works have been censored in 2006, along with 23% of hardcore R18’s.

The BBFC wrote to the department of culture, media and sport last month, asking the government to consider a system of classification. It said that the most likely scenario would see them advising companies providing video content on what material would be acceptable to viewers.
[BOLLOX BBFC, you mean acceptable to the Government and to people who like to impose their views on others about what they should be watching. Eg spanking videos are obviously acceptable to informed viewers that choose to watch them, they are only not acceptable to people who would rather you did not watch them. ie the Government, nutters and censors!]
 

21st June  Update: More from the BBFC Wackos

Based on an article from IT Week

Protected by BBFC WackosSue Clark, a spokeswoman for the shameful BBFC said that people recognised that the internet may not be regulated, ...BUT... expected certain types of content such as films to have passed through a classification process.

The BBFC knew of at least one distributor who sees video-on-demand as a way of getting around its controls on pornography: This guy has stated that he will be putting stuff out which the BBFC will not classify. He has to be prosecuted to stop that. [It should be pointed out that BBFC are censoring and cutting hardcore porn for a whole load of nonsensical reasons such as the the vague possibility that ice or a dildo may possibly cause harm if used in a whacky way by complete imbeciles. The BBFC view on what should be cut is proving near worthless and surely does not automatically infer that the cut material is obscene and liable to prosecution].

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has set up an inquiry into new media and the creative industries, which Clark hoped would lead to legislation or the introduction of a voluntary industry agreement: We have not asked the government to consider this because we think that it necessarily needs legislation. It may be that the industry signs up to a voluntary system. [As far as I can see the creative industries committee is unsurprisingly more concerned with licensing, IPR, DRM, piracy etc rather than worrying about censorship concerns of nutters and film censors facing redundancy]

21st June  Opinion: Soho Square has got it Wrong

From The Guardian at Bobbie Johnson's Blog which also includes a lively dicussion

Protected by BBFC WackosAccording to reports this morning, the BBFC says it envisages being able to censor what is on the net.

In its annual report, the BBFC says it may be worth having a voluntary system of rating - spinning off from its rankings of U, PG, 12A, 15 and 18 - that can help people surf the web safely.

According to the Times, it says: No one should assume that such material will be confined to established platforms such as film and DVD. Whether in a regulatory or an advisory capacity, we believe we have unique expertise and experience to offer.

Outrageous, cry the web's hordes. Freedom is our watchword, and we will not bow to censors.

It's a laudable position, of course, but one that's not entirely true. Censorship already abounds on the net - just ask Google in China or go back to Yahoo's continental court case about the sale of Nazi memorabilia. We accept some forms of censorship, where appropriate, and in many ways the BBFC recommendations are in this mould.

Web pages and content have the ability to contain tags that promote an age rating. Parents can already employ web monitors like NetNanny to shepherd their children online and block unsavoury or unwanted information. Why not just crank up the regulation and make sure that every site has a rating?

The problem with such schemes, of course, is that the internet is a global phenomenon. How do you enforce censorship across nations? If you force any material hosted on British servers to carry advisory ratings, then some people would just move elsewhere (it's very easy to do). And if you don't enforce the rules, then those who do want to exploit them will just plough ahead and lie, or avoid the ratings altogether.

The ultimate problem, though, is how to regulate what people do in their own homes; how parents interact with technology and with their kids. While it's clear that an 18 certificate for a movie in a cinema stops a seven-year-old child watching the movie on the big screen, the private situation is far from clear. How effective, after all, is the 9pm watershed? How many pre-teens have watched 18-rated DVDs at home? How many kids play Grand Theft Auto with their parents' consent?

Even recent attempts to solve the conundrum have fallen foul of the very people who would welcome the BBFC's comments. When the porn industry suggested a .xxx domain name to house adult material (easily spotted by nanny programmes and blocked by parents), it seemed like a fair idea, but it was shot down by the Christian right - the same people who would no doubt welcome the BBFC's proposals. Why? Because pornography should never be legitimised, and creating a .xxx suffix would do exactly that.

So we're stuck in a world where the veto goes to those who want to have their cake and eat it while ideas are flung about for forcing new rules on producers and consumers alike. Any net censorship would be expensive and almost certainly unsuccessful - and in any case, it would be far easier and cheaper to teach people how to use the tools that already exist. But that would just be too simple, wouldn't it?

 

22nd June  Opinion: Simply Not Wanted

Letter from Shaun to the BBFC

Protected by BBFC WackosDear Ms Clark,,

Please tell your director Mr. Cooke, that many people simply don't want your attempts at censorship of the internet...

I suppose he's looking for extra work and all that... In case it's decided that video classification in the form of censorship isn't really necessary.

BUT: In case you had not realised, the **Internet Watch Foundation** already has the job of internet censorship, and we don't want any more classification (which really means censorship) than that thank you very much.

Also people don't believe you, when you (you=the BBFC) say you will "just classify. " You will censor, and cut, like you have ALWAYS censored, and cut, with your big scissors.

But censorship is beloved of repressive regimes the world over.

How would you censor content on P2P ? It is content on OTHER people's computers, and changes all the time. What about stuff on foreign web sites? What would you do if a work was "beyond" R18 or something ?

Anyway exactly WHO would be paying for all this? Are you going to do for free, for your love of humanity and your desire to protect us all? I doubt it.

It'll be Internet users I suppose? By an extra "fee" or internet tax I suppose?

Well sorry but it simply isn't necessary and it isn't wanted.

Did you know that I've got two children aged 12, and 15 (next week) with a connection to an 8mbit broadband connection ? Do you also know that despite regular spot checks, I've never had to worry about anything they have seen, such as explicit sex, because currently they simply are not interested. The only things I would really worry about are chat groups. How would you classify those?

Parents on a broadband Home network (including wireless networks) can use VNC or similar programs to see exactly what their children are doing, using another machine. They can see a copy of the kid's desktop on another machine elsewhere in the house.

This is what I do. My kids can see when I am doing it (their icon changes colour) so I don't need or want the BBFC to pre-vet to protect my kids, when I can do it myself.

See:
www.tightvnc.com

 

14th May  Telegraph Harp Back to their Golden Age of Film Scissorship

I wonder what prompted this story?

Based on an article from The Telegraph

A record number of films containing extreme violence and explicit sex are making it onto the big screen without any cuts.

Figures compiled by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) show that during the past decade, less than 3% of the 4,951 films released into cinemas have had to lose footage in order to get their preferred certificate.

The drastic fall in the number of films requiring cuts, from a high of 27% in the 1970s, comes as a new generation of film makers compete to push the boundaries of taste and decency.

Whereas in the 1960s and 1970s X-rated films were routinely cut on the grounds of taste and decency, the board will now cut 18 certificate films only if they encourage illegality or if the content is likely to encourage someone to harm themselves.

In January, the BBFC allowed an unaltered version of the horror film Hostel into cinemas even though, in its own words, it contained scenes of "bloody violence, torture and strong sex". Eli Roth's film, in which a group of wealthy Americans pay to fulfil their most depraved fantasies, shows one character having his eyes gouged out, and was denounced as "perverse" and "obscene" by some critics.

In 2004, when the number of films cut by the BBFC reached an all-time low of 0.9%, the board allowed unaltered versions of Michael Winterbottom's film 9 Songs into cinemas even though it featured people having sex.

On its own website the board admits that such a decision would probably not have been made 10 years earlier.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the BBFC required producers to make cuts to around one in four films and, even in the 1980s, it was still requiring content changes to 17% of mainstream releases.

So far this year, five films or 2.9% of the total released, have been required to make cuts to get their preferred classification.

None of these films were 18 certificate and all made cuts to secure the lucrative 12A classification rather than the 15 certificate.

The total amount of footage dropped amounted to two minutes and 54 seconds.

John Beyer, the nutter director of Mediawatch UK, which monitors the work of the BBFC, has attacked its reluctance to take action. He said: It is a free for all. Films should be classified by a body which is not linked to the industry.

But Andreas Whittam Smith, the BBFC's president between 1997 and 2002, said classification had to reflect the moral climate of the time: The board should be guided by what the public wants. We shouldn't have a situation where the board tells the public what it wants.

A BBFC spokesman said the board was in the business of classification rather than censorship.
We leave it up to adults to make up their own minds about the films they see.

 

13th May  Sterling Efforts

From the Daily Record

Kids in Stirling will be able to watch a Swedish sex film after its BBFC 18 certificate was overruled. The Ketchup Effect will be locally rated 12A and can be seen by under-12s as long as they are with an adult.

Stirling councillors reduced the age limit as they believed the film would be educational for children.

It will be shown this weekend at Stirling's MacRobert Centre after the theatre lobbied for the change. The BBFC rated the movie 18 as it "contains strong sex and language".

It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl preparing to start at a new high school in Sweden. After drinking a boozy cocktail stolen from her dad, Sofie goes to a party and passes out. Boys take lewd pictures of her which are circulated throughout the school. She then has to try to restore her reputation. Much of the controversy centres on a scene where Sofie has a sexual discussion with a boy and a prosthetic penis is seen.

MacRobert boss Liz Moran said: "There was no point in showing it to adults only. We've lived through and dealt with being this age and getting into impossible situations:
We felt this film should be shown to 13-year-olds.

 

7th May  The Sound of Censorship

Surely it must be a good thing that the BBFC now rarely make the news.

Based on an article from The Telegraph

It opens with a mutilated body, features a series of bloody murders and even portrays a monk flagellating himself with a rope. But the most disturbing thing about the Hollywood adaptation of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is its musical score and sound effects, according to the BBFC.

The producers of the new film were told that their request for a 12A certificate was inappropriate because the film's score was too tense for young children, and its sound levels accentuated the violence. The BBFC told executives at Sony, who are distributing the film in Britain, that unless significant changes were made to the film's audio content they would end up with a restrictive 15 certificate, which would have had a serious impact on the film's box office prospects.

A move to turn down a film's certification on the basis of its soundtrack is virtually unheard of. Normally, film producers have to cut only visual scenes to get the certification they require.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that the board viewed two different rough cuts of the film at the beginning of last month.

David Cooke, the BBFC's director, saw a version that contained hardly any soundtrack and is believed not to have raised any concerns.

Difficulties ensued, however, when two of the board's examiners viewed a version complete with the full soundtrack the following week. It was when the movie was viewed again with the soundtrack that the problems emerged, a studio source said. Everyone was full of praise for the score but the BBFC felt that the way it was being used to build up the tension was simply too much for very young children. The BBFC also thought that the film had a very high 'crunch factor'. You didn't just see the fight scenes, you heard the bones break.

Aware that anything other than a 12A certificate would have undermined the film's commercial prospects, Sony was forced to moderate the audio content for the finished version of the film. Last week, it was finally granted the desired 12A certificate by the board.

A BBFC spokesman said: We advised Sony that, as things stood, the film would receive a 15 certificate unless changes were made. A good score is obviously there to build up the tension. But in this case, we felt it was making things too tense for a very young audience. The sound mix was also accentuating the violence to a degree which was unacceptable for a young audience.

John Beyer, the nutter director of Media Watch UK questioned whether adjusting the sound was the right way to protect young people:
You do have to wonder if just turning down the sound is going to help matters that much. Even after the sound has been adjusted, you are still left with the problem of the violent imagery and it's this kind of imagery which really worries people.

 

11th April  Spanking at the BBFC

From British Spanking

Spanking films passed by the BBFC are pretty rare. So when three are passed more or less together then people start to wonder if there has been any change in policy.

  • Nina Hartley's Private Sessions 1 was passed R18 albeit with 33m 44s of cuts
  • a collection called Girl On Girl Spanking Special was passed without cuts for an R18. It includes Paperback Writer and The House 1: Victoria's Room
  • The Spanking Of Lady Tiffany was passed R18 without cuts

What I find interesting is that presumably neither film contains actual sex, just corporal punishment, which would mean that the BBFC have now decided that they can pass rather more severe material with an R18 than they have with an 18 - at least, that's how I interpret it.

Thanks to Sergio:

Just to clarify,

  • THE TIFFANY JONES TRILOGY 1 - PAPERBACK WRITER has actually been cut. BBFC seem to cut cane stripes on the bottom.
  • PLAYTHING is cut
  • THE EXHIBITIONIST is cut

The article says: What I find interesting is that presumably neither film contains actual sex.
What the BBFC says: Cuts required to sequences featuring sight of actual harm (sight of welts caused by caning) during SM sex play.
Is `sex play` having sex?

So, in conclusion, welts are out.

 

14th March  A New Dimension of Bureaucracy

From the BBFC (To film distributors)

It has been brought to the BBFC's attention that some UMD features are being re-formatted and released in a different ratio to the previously classified version. Unless the re-formatted work has itself been submitted to the BBFC for classification, the UMD is unclassified and its sale or hire is therefore in breach of the Video Recordings Act 1984.

We remind customers that any change, whether in content or ratio, to a classified work requires the new version to be submitted for classification. Should you wish to submit re-formatted versions of works intended for UMD release, please supply them to the BBFC in either DVD or VHS form to enable us to technically compare the re-formatted version against the classified version, and examine if necessary.

 

13th February  A Serious Offence on Paper

The BBFC recently awarded a 12 rating to a DVD because of a badly dubbed 'fuck'. Now they harp on about the it being 'a very serious offence' to supply that DVD to a child. If BBFC decisions are to be used to imprison people, then the BBFC should have to consider whether there is sufficient harm to justify a 6 month prison sentence before being able to award an age restricted certificate. Badly dubbed 'fuck's surely do not cause sufficient harm to justify people being set up for a six month jail term.

From The Sunday Herald

Newsagents face fines or even imprisonment for selling papers containing free 12 and 15-certificate films.

British censors have warned that many of the DVDs given away recently with newspapers carry 12 or 15- certificates, which makes it illegal to supply them to anyone under the appropriate age. The fact they are free makes no difference in the eyes of the law.

It is a very serious offence, said Sue Clark, head of communications at the BBFC. You end up with a criminal record and can go to prison or be heavily fined.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents has warned members of the implications of selling age-restricted DVDs to children, but there is anecdotal evidence that many continue to do so.

Trading standards officers are responsible for policing the Video Recordings Act and the local authority regulatory body, Lacors, has made representations to newsagents, stores and garages, trade bodies and news papers demanding they all tighten up.

As suppliers, newsagents are in the frontline. But Clark said some papers had broken the law by failing to show film certificates on their front pages, so newsagents might not realise they contained age-restricted material.

There is the further complication of paper boys and girls delivering age-restricted DVDs to homes. I know from one person who rang the BBFC that they came in to find their child watching a 15-rated film and they were about seven or eight, said Clark. Parents have raised concerns. And we are concerned that parents may not be able to choose what their children access.

Highlander and Conan the Destroyer, both 15-rated films, were given away with red-top tabloids last month. But English broadsheets have been handing out the kind of films in which Wingate specialises. Last month The Independent gave away Czechoslovakian masterpiece Closely Observed Trains, which is rated 15 and yesterday it gave away the Italian 12-certificate film The Sky Is Falling.

Sue Clark said one solution might be for newspapers to give away vouchers for DVDs instead, and some already do this. Adam Whisker at Lacors said they had suggested DVDs should be supplied separately from newspapers.

 

29th January  The Witch Who Came in from the Video Nasties List

The Witch Who Came in from the Sea has been passed 18 uncut by the BBFC in 2006.

Will be included in Anchor Bay's second Box of the Banned set.

The sensationalist cover of the  1976 US video by Matt Cimber got this video into trouble "A young woman's nightmare of incest and castration... Molly has a way with razors!" The actual castration scene of course is well toned down.

Amazon Review:

Here is an odd little gem of a film that fortunately ( at least for fans of offbeat cinema) has resurfaced on DVD, boasting a pristine film transfer. Descriptions of the film, the title of the film, and even the DVD cover itself do little to relate, or even hint at what is, as it turns out, an altogether strange, unsettling, humorous, and entertaining cinematic treat. The off kilter acting styles, unnatural tone, and dark humor of the film shares a kinship to the works of David Lynch ( who is too often misused as a comparative description) and is sure to surprise and delight viewers who have an affinity for the outré. Highly recommended.

 

15th January  Wrestling with the BBFC

It seems that the US wrestling community appears to be fighting with the BBFC. Of course given the nature of US wrestling it could all be hype.

From Wrestlemag.com

At time of writing, there is no release date for the upcoming Superstar Billy Graham in the UK. WWE’s UK and European distributors Silver Vision currently have no plans to officially release the title, stating that the BBFC (the body who give releases in the UK a rating certificate) had wanted to cut material out from the DVD and as a result, it was felt that releasing a heavily edited version of the title would not be doing it justice.

 

14th January  Jesus! What have the BBFC Got Against Franco

Thanks to Barrie who asked the BBFC about some of their decisions regarding Jess Franco's works. The BBFC replied as follows:

The BBFC's guidelines only permit explicit real sex at '18' if (i) the work is not a 'sex work' - ie one whose primary purpose is to sexually arouse - and (ii) the images are exceptionally justified by context. In the case of Barbed Wire Dolls, which is an exploitation work whether or not one considers it a 'sex work', the images had no special justification or purpose and could not be exceptionally justified at '18'. We explained why we felt the images in Baise-Moi and 9 Songs were exceptionally justified at '18' in our News Releases. No such special justification was evident in this case.

As for the other Franco works we cut, our guidelines are very clear - any scenes that make sexual assault look sexy, exciting or desirable are likely to be cut. Most of the Jess Franco films fell foul of this test. By contrast, once the explicit penetration shot had been cut from Baise-Moi, the scene made rape look disgusting, horrible and unattractive. It was not there to titillate male viewers, eg by focusing and lingering on female nudity, but showed rape as a brutal and horrible and ultimately unsatisfying to all parties. We have no objection to scenes of sexual assault that show it as violent and horrible but we do have difficulties with scenes that emphasise and focus on female nudity in a sexually violent context.

Incidentally, Women in Cellblock 9 was rejected because one of the main actresses in the film (who is depicted in a very sexualised fashion) was underaged at the time of filming. The film was therefore illegal under the Protection of Children Act.

As for anime works, we have taken a policy decision that if sex scenes are made to look like hardcore porn (ie drawn in a realistic manner, showing penetration in a pornographic fashion) they will be treated on a par with live action porn as the intent - and level of offence - is the same.

 

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