Embrace is a documentary that sets out to raise awareness of the female body. It has been given an MA 15+ rating by the Australian film censors with consumer advice of strong nudity. The censors noted that some of the genital detail
included protruding labia in a sequence showing different women's vaginas in close up
However body image campaigner and the film's director, Taryn Brumfitt, is not impressed. She claims that the restricted age rating reinforces the message that women's bodies are shameful. She added:
It puts my film in the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey. t's wrong on so many levels. I am outraged.
The Board of Directors have got their heads in the sand if they think that's offensive. These images are not crude. We don't need to be ashamed of how our bodies look.
An M rating [PG-15] (stipulates) that nudity must be justified by context. The nudity in my film is completely in context. The only way these images can be harmful is if they continue to be censored.
Andrew Mackie added for the film's producers, Transmission Films:
This is a very disappointing decision. The whole point of this entertaining and educative film is the message that all bodies are different ... and that girls and women should be encouraged to love themselves exactly as they are.
This is a message that needs to be heard by girls under the age of 15.
[One can't help wondering if the filmmakers would be so keen on young boys oggling the 'message'].
Transmission Films also confirmed today that Facebook would not allow a post of the film's poster to be boosted to reach an additional audience because the image has excessive skin.
After screening at this year's Sydney Film Festival, Embrace is to be released in cinemas nationally on August 4.
Update: New Zealand ruled by Australian censorship
17th July 2016. See article from stuff.co.nz
The Australian film censor's decision to give Taryn Brumfitt's Embrace a 15 rating has had a knock on effect in New Zealand.
Before the Australian decision, Embrace was exempt from classification in New Zealand on the grounds it was an educational documentary. Now the 15 rating has caused major problems for the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF), which plans to
show the documentary later in July. E
New Zealand's censorship laws mean that if a film is restricted in Australia, it needs to be classified for New Zealand audiences by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). While the film is being classified the festival is not allowed
to sell tickets to anyone under the age of 18. A decision on its rating is expected by July 26, but that is just three days before the documentary is scheduled to screen in Auckland.
NZIFF communications manager Rebecca McMillan said the age restriction could prevent mothers taking their daughters to see the film, limiting potentially important conversations about body image. She hoped the New Zealand OFLC would give the film a more
lenient rating than its Australian counterpart. McMillan said the NZIFF wanted girls as young as 12 to be able to see Embrace . That's the most vulnerable audience with body messaging, she said.
Update: M rated in New Zealand
20th July 2016. See article from stuff.co.nz
Before the Australian Classification Board's decision to award an MA 15+ rating, Embrace was exempt from classification in New Zealand on the grounds it was an educational documentary.
Nudity depicted in a documentary about positive body image was deemed too much for young Australians, but New Zealand censors have decided the film is for all Kiwis.
New Zealand film censors of the OFLC have decided to award the film an M rating, with a descriptive note for offensive language and nudity .
The mature M rating is an advisory rating recommending that the film is suitable for over 16s. However there are no restrictions but a person of any age may see the film.
The OFLC said in its official decision that Embrace was a well-made, thought-provoking and uplifting examination of body positivity, self-worth and diversity of representation. It also said it would likely be an educational resource for younger and older
viewers alike, and facilitate discussion.
Embrace director Taryn Brumfitt says New Zealand's censors have made the right decision not to restrict her film. She said:
Embrace is an entertaining, life-affirming film that leaves audiences feeling inspired. The decision of the New Zealand Classification Office can give New Zealand audiences confidence that Embrace is a film for everyone.
Rebecca McMillan, the NZIFF's communications manager, said they were thrilled at the change: she said:
The NZ classification decision means that this educational documentary can reach the people who need to see and hear body positive messages the most. New Zealanders of all ages can decide for themselves whether they are mature enough to see the film and
understand the themes that it raises: themes of body positivity and representation of women in the media.
We're encouraged that the Classification Office considers New Zealanders more culturally aware and willing to have these conversations with our children by allowing an unrestricted rating for the film.
Taryn Brumfitt will be in attendance at the Auckland and Wellington screenings of Embrace to participate in a Q&A session.