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9th December   

Offsite: A Bit Nanny State?...

CD Universe

An interview with BBFC Senior Examiner Craig Lapper
Link Here

FilmShaft have interviewed BBFC Senior Examiner Craig Lapper on a series of general topics.

FilmShaft: Isn't the idea about protecting people a bit nanny state ? Most horror films are laughable more than offensive.

Craig Lapper: I would agree with you that most horror films are just that – harmless entertainment. Indeed, I can't recall cutting an 18 level horror film just for blood, gore or horror since the 1990s. Where difficulties tend to arise for us is when films – and not just horror films – move into areas such as sexual violence. When you present rape or other forms of sexual and sexualised violence, there's always a danger of sexing things up in an unhealthy way that sends out mixed signals. You're turning the viewer on sexually whilst also exciting them at the sight of a violent spectacle. There is research to suggest that this can have harmful results. On the other hand, there's research that tends to suggest the opposite – that such material is harmless or even cathartic. However, when you consult the public there's an instinctive feeling that such presentations of sexual violence, essentially for titillatory reasons, are inherently dubious and unhealthy. We tend to take a conservative line on such matters, in line with the evidence of some of the research and the feelings of the majority of the public that it might be dangerous. But when the horror is more straightforward, I think things have moved on a great deal since the time of the video nasties. You only need to look at the fact that The Evil Dead, The Driller Killer and Zombie Flesh Eaters are now uncut.

FilmShaft: Does it annoy you when film critics and anti-censorship commentators distort the role of the BBFC and make accusations, such as, you treat Hollywood films differently than independents?

Craig Lapper: Various allegations have been made against the BBFC over the years. On the one hand, we're supposed to favour Hollywood over independents. On the other hand, we're supposed to favour 'art house' works over exploitation works. I don't think any of this is true but I've heard it so many times that I can't really get annoyed about it any more. Suffice it to say that, in terms of cinema releases, far more Hollywood films are cut than independent films, largely in order to achieve a lower and more commercial category. As for art house versus exploitation, several art house works have been cut for breaches of UK laws, including on animal cruelty, whereas the majority of horror works are passed uncut nowadays. What does cause friction sometimes is that the BBFC charges the same fee to everybody and some people feel this unfairly disadvantages the independent sector and smaller releases. I can see their point but it does at least mean that there is no motive for favouritism on our part.

...Read the full interview


9th December   

Offsite: A Serbian on A Serbian Film...

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An interview with Srdjan Spasojevic
Link Here Full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

Music magazines including This is Fake DIY spoke to Srdjan Spasojevic, writer and director of A Serbian Film.

Screenjabber: Have the cuts that the BBFC have taken from the film affected how the audience is going to view it?

Srdjan Spasojevic: That's a tough question because I will always have a different opinion on that question than the audience will. Unfortunately that's the rules of the game and the crazy world we live in. I'm certainly not happy about those cuts, I never watched the entire film in this new version, I only saw on DVD those scenes that are cut. I'm not happy about that version, but as I understood last night, people who saw the uncut and cut versions said that it's still working, but the bad thing is that this version is made only by removing some shots, and the rest was just put together. In order for the new version to be better, some re-editing was needed, maybe some additional takes to be put back in the gaps where things were taken. It loses some pace, but it's like a bumpy road.

DIY: Did you not have the chance to oversee the edit before it happened?

Srdjan Spasojevic: I didn't want to be involved. They asked me of course, if I wanted to be involved and make those cuts, but didn't want to. We decided, and sent some materials they asked for that they could use. We weren't involved in making this version.

Beyond Hollywood: I guess the main thing is that people get to see the film in one form or another. If people see the cut version. Spasojevic: Yes, of course. The other thing that could've happened is for us to be so stubborn and then no-one will see it, so it's okay.

...Read the full interview


7th December   

A Downward Trend in R18 Cuts?...

6% of R18s censored in November 2010
Link Here

Is there are a trend here? The percentage of R18s cut has been more like 25-30% over the last few years. But for the last 4 months the figure has been just 13%.

Are the BBFC cutting less?, or are the producers moving away from 'rough sex'?

BBFC R18 cuts for November 2010

Number of submissions = 67
Number that were cut = 4
Percentage of R18s censored by the BBFC = 6%

The R18 cuts stats 2010: 

  • January: 75 R18s cut out of 375 (20%) *
  • February: 6 R18s cut out of 76 (7%)
  • March: 15 R18s cut out of 76 (19%)
  • April: 16 R18s cut out of 65 (24%)
  • June: 23 R18s cut out of 80 (28%)
  • July: 15 R18s cut out of 69 (21%)
  • August: 16 cut out of 95 (17%)
  • September: 8 cut out of 63 (13%)
  • October: 8 cut out of 61 (13%)
  • November: 4 cut out of 67 (6%)

* The BBFC re-assigned all video certificates passed during the preceding months when the Video Records Act was in limbo, to a January 2010 date when the new VRA was back in force.

Cuts of interest:

She is Half my Age

Cuts required to remove scenes of urolagnia (urination accompanied by sexual activity) in line with current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959.


3rd December   

Update: A Serbian Statement...

BBFC release their Extended Classification Information about A Serbian Film
Link Here Full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

Srpski Film - A Serbian Film is a Serbian language drama, subtitled in English. It tells the story of a retired porn star, Milos, who is lured out of retirement by an offer of money from a mysterious figure called Vukmir. Vukmir wants Milos to star in what he describes as an artistic film for the foreign market but it soon becomes clear the project will require Milos' participation in various acts of sexual violence and paedophilia. The film was classified 18 for very strong sexual violence, sex and violence.

The BBFC's Guidelines state that In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC's public consultations and the Human Rights Act 1998, at '18 the BBFC's guideline concerns will not normally override the principle that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment. Exceptions are most likely [...] where material or treatment appears to the BBFC to risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society - for example, any detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts [...] which may cause harm to public health or morals. This may include portrayals of sexual or sexualised violence which might, for example, eroticise or endorse sexual assault'. More generally, the Guidelines state that A strict policy on sexual violence and rape is applied. Content which might eroticise or endorse sexual violence may require cuts at any classification level and that intervention, even at the adult level, is more likely with sexual violence or sexualised violence which endorses or eroticises the behaviour and with portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context .

Before awarding an 18 classification to Srpski Film - A Serbian Film , the BBFC required forty-nine individual cuts, across eleven scenes. A number of cuts were required to remove elements of sexual violence that tend to eroticise or endorse sexual violence. Further cuts were required to scenes in which images of children are intercut with images of adult sexual activity and sexual violence. It is important to stress that the film makers took precautions to avoid the exposure of the young actors to the film's most disturbing scenes and that, in the BBFC's view, no scene is in clear breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978.

Even after cuts, the film's scenes of very strong sexual violence remain potentially shocking, distressing or offensive to some adult viewers, but are also likely to be found repugnant and to be aversive. They are not credibly likely to encourage imitation. In some scenes Milos witnesses, or is forced to witness, acts of sexual violence, including the suggestion that a new born baby is being raped. In the cut version, the rape of the baby occurs entirely offscreen, implied only by the sounds of the baby crying and by the reactions of the onlooking Milos and Vukmir. Although all clear shots of the baby being raped have been cut by the BBFC, it is worth noting that the film makers used a prosthetic model during the filming of this scene and that no real baby was harmed. Later in the film, when Milos refuses to participate in the acts required of him by Vukmir, he is drugged and forced to continue filming against his will. As Milos regains consciousness, he begins to remember what he has been compelled to do, including decapitating a restrained woman during sex and raping his unconscious wife and son. He also recalls, with the assistance of video recordings, some of the acts perpetrated against himself and others during his period of unconsciousness. This includes one of his female friends being suffocated with a man's penis, after her teeth have been extracted, and Milos himself being raped. Once again, the cuts required by the BBFC have removed the more explicit moments from these scenes and much of the action is now brief or implied rather than explicitly depicted. Nonetheless, the scenes remain potentially distressing and offensive, even in their cut versions. Cuts were also required to remove shots which imply that children are witnessing sexual violence, sometimes enthusiastically, or where images of children are intercut with images of sexual activity and sexual violence. This includes a scene in which images of a young girl sucking a lolly are intercut with a scene of fellatio, a scene in which the same young girl appears to lean forward excitedly as she witnesses a scene of violent fellatio, and a scene in which Milos' brother is fellated by a woman whilst watching a family video, featuring his young nephew. All such intercutting has been removed from these scenes. In another scene, Vukmir attempts to persuade Milos to have a sex with an underaged girl. Although Milos refuses, cuts were required to remove shots in which the young girl appears to be encouraging Milos to have sex with her. In spite of the fact that care was taken by the film makers to avoid exposing any of the young actors to anything disturbing, violent or sexual, this juxtaposition of images of children with sexual and sexually violent material is a breach of BBFC policy and Guidelines.

The film contains a number of scenes of very strong bloody violence, including sight of a man's head being repeatedly smashed with a heavy object until his skull caves in, a man's throat being torn out in close up, and a man being killed by having a prosthetic erect penis forced into his empty eye socket. These scenes considerably exceed the terms of the 15 Guidelines where Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong sadistic or sexualised violence is also unlikely to be acceptable . Srpski Film - A Serbian Film also contains a number of scenes of strong sex. This includes sight of masturbation, oral sex, group sex, and sexual thrusting, as well as simulated ejaculation onto a woman's face. These scenes significantly exceed the terms of the 15 Guidelines where Sexual activity may be portrayed without strong detail .

Srpski Film - A Serbian Film also includes very strong visual and verbal sex references, including to bestiality and paedophilia, very strong language, strong language, and strong nudity, including sight of prosthetic erections.

Release Details

A Serbian film is a 2010 Serbia adult horror by Srdjan Spasojevic. See IMDb

The general release at UK cinemas is on Friday 10th January 2010.

Video versions are set for 3rd January 2011:

  • UK 2011 Revolver Blu-ray for release on 3rd January 2100 at UK Amazon
  • UK 2011 Revolver R2 DVD for release on 3rd January 2100 at UK Amazon

The film/DVD/Blu-ray were all  passed 18 after 49 BBFC cuts totalling 4:12s

The BBFC commented about the cuts:

Cuts required to remove portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context and images of sexual and sexualised violence which have a tendency to eroticise or endorse the behaviour. Cuts made in accordance with BBFC Guidelines and policy, and the Video Recordings Act 1984.

The consumer advice is

Contains very strong sexual violence, sex and violence

See trailer from


28th November   

Update: The Monolithic Power of Hype...

A Serbian Film molested by the media
Link Here Full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

The BBC wrote a piece about A Serbian Film

Controversial movie A Serbian Film has become the most cut film in 16 years, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has said.

The dark thriller, which features disturbing scenes of violence and sex, has had four minutes and 11 seconds of its original content removed.

The BBFC said that it rarely cuts cinema releases with an 18 certificate.

[Previously the most cut cinema film was in 1994 when] the Indian movie Nammavar was cut by five minutes and eight seconds for violent content.

The movie was written by Serbian horror film critic Aleksandar Radivojevic and directed by Srdjan Spasojevic. Radivojevic has defended the movie, calling it an a diary of our molestation by the Serbian government . He said it was designed to show the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotise you to do things you don't want to do .

The subtlety of the use of the word 'film' to denote a 'cinema film release' must have delighted the BBFC. News sources picking up the story paraphrased it, and rather suggested that this is the most censored BBFC film in general.

In reality the BBFC have made much bigger cuts to plenty of videos and DVDs in recent years. Just in the last few days, the BBFC cut 8 minutes from a dated 35 year old sex comedy called Fantasm .

And considering what the BBFC get up to with porn films, then the Serbian cuts are a mere trifle. The BBFC recently cut a whopping 94:57s from a US adult movie called Virgin Territory by Hailey Page.

The BBFC must also be very pleased that the press so far have somehow accepted that the extensive cuts to A Serbian Film have somehow cleansed the film of bannability. Not many articles have really called for bans or boycotts against the movie, in its cut form at least.


The hype was nicely exaggerated by the Toronto Sun who picked up on the UK press stories and repackaged them under the headline: Controversial snuff film edited

Release Details

A Serbian film is a 2010 Serbia adult horror by Srdjan Spasojevic. See IMDb

The general release at UK cinemas is on Friday 10th January 2010.

Video versions are set for 3rd January 2011:

  • UK 2011 Revolver Blu-ray for release on 3rd January 2100 at UK Amazon
  • UK 2011 Revolver R2 DVD for release on 3rd January 2100 at UK Amazon

The film/DVD/Blu-ray were all  passed 18 after 49 BBFC cuts totalling 4:12s

The BBFC commented about the cuts:

Cuts required to remove portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context and images of sexual and sexualised violence which have a tendency to eroticise or endorse the behaviour. Cuts made in accordance with BBFC Guidelines and policy, and the Video Recordings Act 1984.

The consumer advice is

Contains very strong sexual violence, sex and violence


23rd November   

BBFC 'Likely' to be Spouting Bollox...

8 minutes of cuts to the 35 year old sex comedy, Fantasm
Link Here

Fantasm is a 1975 Australian sex comedy by Richard Franklin. See IMDb

It has just been passed 18 after 8:00s of BBFC cuts for:
  • UK 2010 Nucleus DVD

The BBFC commented:

  • Cuts were required to remove potentially harmful material in two scenes. In the first case, cuts were made to remove an eroticised scene of sexual violence in which the victim responds positively to the assault.
  • In the second, cuts were made to remove dialogue likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity, in this case incest.

Dont't the BBFC spout bollox sometimes. What is the probability of dialogue in a dated 35 year old film actually encouraging an interest in incest. Something like 1 in a million maybe. Yet the BBFC somehow claim that this is 'likely', meaning more than half the viewers will become interested in incest.

Bollox BBFC! I think examiners writing this sort of stuff should get management approval before using the word 'likely'. Otherwise its sounds like the unjustified nonsense spouted by the nutters of Mediawatch-UK. It makes you wonder if there is actually any reasoned thinking behind BBFC censorship.

Anyway the censorship is slightly less this time round than in the past. The BBFC passed the 1978 cinema release after 20:23s cuts and banned the 1977 submission totally.

Review from US Amazon : Advanced for its time

Fantasm This is an erotic film quite advanced for its time.

A must see for those wishing to see softcore stars Rene Bond, Uschi Digart in the nude with their hairy bushes.

There are some good erotic scenes where a woman gets her hair styled with a nude massage and a shave down low.

All the outrageous nudity is innocently explained away in scientific jargon by a Professor to get under the oppressive censorship of those times.

Worth the effort but with a grain of salt


27th October   

Comment: Fif.Fif.Fif.Fif.Fif...Twelve...

BBFC stutters over rating for The King's Speech
Link Here

The King's Speech is 2010 Uk/Australia drama by Tom Hooper.

This work was originally classified 15 without cuts on 15/10/2010.

The BBFC has, after an appeal by the distributor of The King's Speech against the original 15 rating, applied its formal reconsideration process to the cinema release and classified it 12A with the Consumer Advice Contains strong language in a speech therapy context .

The BBFC's language Guidelines for 12A state: The use of strong language (for example fuck) must be infrequent . In the case of The King's Speech there are two isolated instances where the character of King George VI uses strong language several times at the instigation of his therapist during the speech therapy sessions he is undergoing to alleviate his stammer. The strong language is not aggressive and not directed at any person.

The Guidelines state that because works from time to time present issues in ways which cannot be anticipated, these criteria will not be applied in an over literal way if such an interpretation would lead to an outcome which would confound audience expectations . After careful consideration by the President and Director of the BBFC, the Board took the view that the way the strong language is presented in The King's Speech did not contravene the language Guidelines at 12A and that the public would understand why the Board has reached this decision.

Offsite: Kings can swear, factoryhands can't

27th October 2010. See  article from by Tim Black

Some films that use the f-word get a 15 rating [Made in Dagenham] and others get a 12A [The King's Speech]. What's going on at the BBFC?


In short, the BBFC is saying that it's okay to swear in the depiction of a speech-therapy session but not in the depiction of political struggle. It is an interpretive effort that puts the BBFC on shaky ground. The BBFC is not simply saying you can't say or show that anymore it lacks the confidence, the moral certainty, to do that kind of thing. So instead, it is qualifying its judgement, offering interpretation, assessing artistic intent. Shrinking back from its role as a guardian of the nation's morals, whether those of wives, servants or under-15s, the BBFC is now acting like a super-critic, deciding whether this or that is suitable not on the basis of a objective rules, but on the basis of subjective evaluation.

...Read the full article


13th October   

Obituary: Claire Rayner...

Agony aunt, writer, broadcaster and BBFC Video Appeals Committee member has died at the age of 79
Link Here

The patients' rights campaigner knew her death was imminent over the weekend and told her relatives she wanted her last words to be: Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him.

She never recovered from emergency intestinal surgery she had in May this year and died in hospital near her home in Harrow, north-west London.

Rayner, also survived by children Amanda, Adam and Jay, and her four grandchildren, had started her career in the National Health Service working as a nurse.

Her husband, who was also her agent and manager, paid tribute to her, saying: Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the 80s when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.

Rayner was also a successful author, writing more than 90 books, both fiction and non-fiction. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to women's issues and health issues .

Claire played a part in the legalisation of hardcore porn in Britain. She was a member of the BBFC Video Appeals Committee (VAC) that overruled the BBFC and passed several medium core titles with hardcore snippets with an R18 rating.

At that time in May 1999, Claire said: I have never objected to normal, healthy sex being portrayed if it is non-violent, consensual and non-exploitative. Just a couple of people having sexual fun and allowing people to watch them: what harm is there in that? On the panel, she spoke up for another video on appeal for a more lenient certificate Pregnant and Milking : They were fetish films for people who have a thing about lactating. It was desperately boring but harmless enough.

The BBFC objected to the VAC appeal decision and asked for it to be examined by High Court Judicial Review. The Judge agreed with Claire Rayner and her committee and so hardcore porn was legalised on UK video.

As Claire said: Just a couple of people having sexual fun and allowing people to watch them: what harm is there in that?


1st October   

Offsite: British Board of F Counting...

Film maker questions dogmatic BBFC strong language rules
Link Here

A 15 certificate for Made in Dagenham tells Stephen Woolley that, despite the growing violence of recent 12A films, bad language is still the final frontier at the BBFC

I am acquainted with the current BBFC stance owing to a summer of constant correspondence with the director, David Cooke who unbelievably granted a 15 to Made in Dagenham. My producing partner Elizabeth Karlsen and I, as well as the director Nigel Cole, were horrified to receive such a restrictive certificate, which bans younger teenagers from a movie that is essentially about equality and empowerment. There is no violence, nudity or moments of suspense, horror, mutilation, or torture of women a constant theme in other 15-certificate movies such as The Expendables, The Last Exorcism, Kick-Ass and Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Our crime was this: instead of Crikey or Cor blimey words that definitely would not be used on the factory floor in Dagenham in 1968 the characters in our movie liberally, as my family did growing up in the ungentrified part of Islington in the 60s, punctuate their sentences with the word fuck used in a non-sexual manner such as: For fuck's sake, hurry up. Made in Dagenham's dialogue has the authenticity of the period and the milieu. My nan, who spent her life working in a brewery, could turn the air blue at the drop of a hat.

Despite protests from school heads, politicians from both sides of the house (including Lynne Featherstone, the current minister for equalities), the BBFC surmises that the F-word, if used more than a handful of times, will deprave or corrupt 13-year-olds.

Who are these delicate young flowers who have never been in a school playground, attended a football match, or heard a rap record or a Lily Allen song? We can only conclude Cooke's ruling is simply an F count , and the film has fallen foul of a box-ticking process.

...Read the full article


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