Zhang Hongsen, deputy director-general of China's Film Bureau and a censor himself, gave a rare briefing recently on the inner workings of the country's movie censorship process, which has come under fire from prominent Chinese filmmakers.
We're not only concerned about the political aspect of a movie, said Zhang. A movie's style may be problematic. For example, some movies may poorly portray the customs of ethnic minorities . . . some are problematic in their portrayal of the
rights of women and children. There are different problems.
One of the films that required heavy editing this year was director Li Yu's Lost in Beijing (Ping Guo) , a powerful story about the fallout after a Beijing foot massage parlour owner rapes one of his employees from the countryside.
Fang Li, the producer of Lost in Beijing , said earlier he was asked to cut scenes depicting sex, dirty streets, gambling, the Chinese national flag, and Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
In a recent interview, Fang accused the movie censorship committee of operating in a black box, saying it doesn't give reasons for the cuts it asks for.
Zhang said censors target sex and violence because China doesn't have a ratings system. All movies must be appropriate for viewing by people of all ages.
He said China's movie censorship committee comprises 24 regular members - five Film Bureau officials, including Zhang, and 19 film professionals, including directors, script writers, cinematographers and movie critics and scholars.
The committee, whose two-year term ends in May, also includes 13 "special" members who are brought in on a case-by-case basis for specialized issues like minority affairs, religion, law, foreign relations, and women and children's affairs, he
said. Zhang, who is 43, said the youngest censor is 40 and none are older than 65.
The Philippines censor board has provoked two militant lawmakers by banning three films for purportedly casting the Arroyo administration in a negative light.
Gabriela Representatives filed a resolution seeking a congressional inquiry into the ban. They alleged that the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) was being used “for political repression.”
The complaint referred to the short films Mendiola and A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo , and Rights , a compilation of public service announcements on human rights, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
They said in a statement that The MTRCB, banning these movies has proven itself to be an effective tool for the suppression of free speech and expression.
National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, a founding member of the critics’ group, Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, has joined the two legislators’ protest, along with filmmakers Carlitos Siguion Reyna, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Kiri Dalena, Chytz
Jimenez and RJ Mabilin.
The group said they were disputing the censors’ ruling that Rights contained scenes that undermine faith and confidence [in] the government and duly constituted authorities.
It wasn’t true, either, that Mendiola had a tendency to incite rebellion and sedition, the protesters insisted.
Neither was the board’s claim, they said, that A Day in the Life of Gloria was libelous and defamatory to the good name and reputation of the President of the Philippines.
Meanwhile the ban of the film, Banal , has now been rescinded and it is now rated R-13
Thailand's National Legislative Assembly passed the controversial Film Act in a last gasp flurry of bills before a new government is elected.
An eight-month-long campaign by local film professionals to end censorship went unheeded. The new law stipulates a rating system which still gives the state the right to ban a movie and prevent its release in the kingdom.
The rating system is made up of "P" (films that are of educational value, "G" (suitable for all age groups), and age restricted categories 13,15,18,20.
The previously mooted 25 age category did not make the final bill.
Notably, the Film Act authorizes the state to forbid the release of movies that undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or that might impact national security or the pride of the nation.
Another controversial point is the article that sees the country's chief of police join the National Film and Video Committee. Previous drafts of the law did not include the police as members of the rating committee, though historically the police have
chaired the film censorship board.
To implement the rating system, a supplementary law will have to be written to cover operational aspects. But it's not clear when the system will actually be implemented in Thai theaters.
Close on the heels of Aaja Nachle
controversy, Censor Board authorities have decided to set up more regional centres to address local differences and diversity in the country.
Regional offices of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) will soon come up in Guwahati, Cuttack and New Delhi.
Films are now widely watched and a lot of controversies tend to crop up due to regional differences in the country. The regional centres will take care to solve the differences before public screening, CBFC chairperson Sharmila Tagore said.
Executives from Singapore's censors, the Media Development Authority have stirred up an online controversy for appearing in a rap video.
Yes, yes y'all. We don't stop. Get creative, can do, rock on! the mostly middle-aged executives rap. Dressed in suits, they twirl in time to the beat and make gangster-style hand gestures. The deputy censor is shown in full rap regalia including
gold chains, shades and a backwards baseball cap. Another executive appears in red briefs and a caped-crusader-style costume.
Since it was posted on the You Tube video-sharing website two weeks ago, the film, which lasts almost five minutes, has generated 60,648 hits and more than 300 comments, many of them negative and filled with expletives.
"They call me CEO. Hear me out, everyone," sings the agency's chief executive, Christopher Chia. "My aim: a vibrant media hub for the city."
Cassandra Tay, MDA's director of communications, said Wednesday the video was originally prepared for a staff conference, where it was well-received by staff who had not seen their senior management in this light.
The MTRCB will never allow the propagation of films which carries dissenting views to the current administration, said an independent filmmaker whose work has been banned.
The Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) was criticized anew for censoring two short films created by independent film makers.
A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo and Sine Patriyotiko’s Mendiola have been rated “X” or banned from public exhibition by the MTRCB. The films are part of an eight-film compilation scheduled to be shown at the Kontra Agos Resistance Film
Festival on December 5-11, Indie Sine, Robinson’s Galleria.
In an interview, RJ Mabilin, director of A Day in the Life of Gloria Arrovo , said that the MTRCB justified the rating by saying that the films undermine the faith of the people in government.
An animation, which got an honorable mention award from this year’s Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines, A Day in the Life of Gloria ArroVo is a political satire.
Mendiola , on the other hand, is a short documentary critical of the Arroyo government’s calibrated preemptive response (CPR).
Another short film, Holy Bingo , was initially rated “X” but later got a PG-13 classification. The film, Mabilin said, is critical of the Catholic Church.
Mabilin said, It goes to show that there exists institutionalized repression. The MTRCB has the final say whether a film should be viewed or not. It will never allow the propagation of films which carries dissenting views to the current
Indian states have banned a film featuring Bollywood superstar Madhuri
Dixit because it allegedly offends low-caste Hindus.
North Indian states of Punjab and Haryana banned the screening of
Aaja Nachle as the title song of the film in which Dixit - called
the "dancing diva" for her graceful moves - plays a choreographer has
derogatory and insulting remarks about Dalits.
However, India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh lifted the ban
following an apology by the film's producer Yash Raj films. The Uttar
Pradesh government had objected to what it said was a derogatory
reference to cobblers. Yash Raj films said the offending parts have been
taken out from prints across the country.
It was not our intention to hurt the feelings of any individual or
community of our great nation. If we have inadvertently hurt the
sentiments of anybody we apologise, said the production house.
Censor Board Chairperson Sharmila Tagore also apologised for passing
what may have been politically incorrect lyrics. The film is expected to
be a big draw as the US-based Dixit returns to the screen after a
Kapur’s film Elizabeth: The Golden Age has gone the way of Da
Vinci Code. Despite protests from the Catholic Church, it will be
released in India on Friday without any cuts, but with a ‘disclaimer’.
Church leaders grudgingly agreed to the release with a disclaimer that
the movie with an ‘Adult’ certification was an interpretation of
history, which is subject to diverse views.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) secretary general
Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes had shot off a letter to Central Censor
Board of India chairperson Sharmila Tagore seeking deletion of parts
they found objectionable.
We had also demanded a disclaimer like in the case of Da Vinci Code
that the film is based on fiction, said CBCI spokesperson Father
Babu Joseph. He reiterated the charge that the film portrayed the
Pope, bishops and the Catholic Church in a poor light….like perpetrators
of all kinds of crime. Father Joseph said interpretation of
history can be done in several way…this is not certainly THE history.
The Catholic Church also feels that the film is blatantly pro-Protestant
and that it would further accentuate the Catholic-Protestant divide.
The Church is not happy with the ‘disclaimer’ though. The disclaimer
is a joke. What is the use of a disclaimer after showing all that is
objectionable? The ideal thing is not produce such films, said
Joseph Dias of the Catholic Secular Forum.
2007 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature
Classification was tabled in New Zealand's Parliament last week
The Office classified more material than ever before, largely due to
an increase in the number of submissions from law enforcement
agencies. It made decisions on 2,762 publications in 2006/07, six
per cent more than in 2005/06. The Office banned 14% of the
publications it classified, restricted 74%, and classified 12% as
unrestricted. The largest proportion of banned material dealt with
the sexual exploitation of children. [Note
this is down to censors checking material seized by the police, it
is not material submitted with view to commercial distribution]
Chief Censor Bill Hastings said censorship law requires the
Office to protect society from the harm caused by restricted and
objectionable publications. To do its job, the Office must fiercely
guard its independence by balancing competing views. For
example, the Office classified the film Out of the Blue by
balancing the filmmaker’s opinion with those who were most affected
by the event the film depicted.
Censors must also be aware of broad but often quietly spoken
public opinion and resist capture by narrow but often loud lobbies,
added Mr Hastings. For example, the Office found that demands to ban
the computer game Bully for allegedly glorifying bullying
were unfounded after examination of the game revealed its
anti-bullying stance. Similarly, The Peaceful Pill Handbook
was banned after the Office found that it encouraged criminal
activity instead of simply offering advice and advocating law reform
as its authors claimed.
Iranian government decision to forbid the second printing of a
Persian translation of Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez has
spurred interest in the book, booksellers said Saturday.
The novel by the famed Latin American writer was translated into
Persian and had an initial press run of 5,000 copies. It was only
banned after the Ministry of Culture received complaints from
conservatives who believed the novel was promoting prostitution.
The ban has only provoked greater interest in the novel and on
Saturday, copies of the book were being sold for more than twice
their list price.
Ahmad Abbasi, paid over the odds to get a copy: I don't know what
the book is about. But when the government bans a book, there is
something interesting in it. So, I'm buying the book out of
The novel, known as Memories of My Melancholy Whores in the
West, was translated into Persian as Memories of My Melancholy
Sweethearts. It tells the story of an elderly man who had long
used prostitutes and decides to mark his 90th birthday by sleeping
with a 14-year-old virgin. He ends up falling in love with the girl.
Officials at Niloofar Publications, which published the first
edition, confirmed Saturday they have been forbidden to put out the
Iran has tightened censorship of books, films and music since
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.
From Galbadia X
Mass Effect is released on 23rd Nov 2007 and is
available at UK
government has announced a ban on the sale of BioWare's upcoming
Mass Effect computer game.
The ban was triggered by the revelation of a scene in the game in
which a sexual encounter between a human woman and a female alien is
portrayed in a poorly-lit room with brief partial nudity. The
depiction of same-sex relations is enough to get the game thrown out
To put this into context, The BBFC kindly published a
detailed explanation of their 12 rating (suitable for 12 year olds
Mass Effect is a role playing
game and shooter set in the future in space. The player controls
either a male or female American soldier through a long and
involved story line, making choices along the way. The game has
been classified at '12' for moderate violence and one sex scene.
The violence is undetailed and takes place in a futuristic
setting. The single sex scene is brief and undetailed, although
there is breast nudity in one version of the scene. The sex scene
is triggered by the player making a series of choices about
becoming more than friends with a colleague. If playing as a male
character the scene can take place between him and a human woman
or a humanoid female alien. If playing as a female character the
scene can take place between her and a male human or a female
The game also contains use of the word 'bastard' and at least one
aggressive use of the word 'bitch'. Both of which are acceptable
under BBFC Guidelines at '12'.
Note also that "breast nudity" just refers to one side view of a blue
alien breast, no nipple.
winding up the video gaming community with the ban of Mass Effect,
the authorities have done a U-turn by rating the highly-anticipated
futuristic space adventure and allowing its sale in Singapore.
In a statement on Friday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said
the game had been reviewed by the Board of Film Censors (BFC) and is
now rated M18.
Mass Effect was earlier banned in Singapore, the only
country to have done so, as it contained an intimate scene between
two female characters. The ban had triggered disappointment and
anger among local and international gamers.
The Singapore censors previously banned two games, God of War II
for nudity, and The Darkness, for violence and vulgarity.
short film The Game may be banned from playing in New Zealand by
the Office of Film and Literature Classification.
The Australian short film was scheduled to play in the Show Me Shorts
Film Festival in Auckland before also traveling to Dunedin, Christchurch and
Festival Director Gina Dellabarca is shocked that this film has been
“refused” by the Film and Video Labeling Body (FVLB). She says, The
incident in the film that has caused the problem is not even actually
seen on screen, the characters simply refer to the act of urination in a
sexual sense. The person who requests the act is heavily mocked and the
film is funny and light. This is a top quality film that the public are missing out on the
chance to see. The film has previously screened in Australia, the UK,
Germany and Canada with no problems.
The Show Me Shorts Film Festival Trust have sent The Game to the Chief
Censor requesting urgent viewing in hope of securing a rating so it can
be shown in the other locations.
Director Christopher Johnson, who is currently attending a film festival
in Germany, has been made aware of the problem. He was, “surprised” by
the refusal because, although the film addresses a form of sexual
deviance, it’s done in a comedic vein, because it’s a comedy.
Kapoor's female fans are in for a disappointment - the towel dropping
shot in the number Jab se tere naina has been deleted by the
Indian censor board.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is not complaining because it neither obstructs
the flow nor makes a mess of his film Saawariya.
The director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was offered the choice of keeping the
nude shot with an adult certificate. But the filmmaker didn't want to
lose an extremely large and crucial portion of the potential audience
for one shot.
In fact, several members of the censor board who loved the film
suggested I take the cut and go with the 'U' certificate. Though in
principle I'm against any cuts, this one time I agreed. The shot doesn't
really make any difference to the flow of my story, Bhansali told
Variety is reporting that Ang Lee's
Lust, Caution has earned an NC-17 rating, and Focus Features has
This is not normal. Not by a long shot considering they can't promote
the film using TV spots, some newspapers restrict the advertising and
some theaters explicitly say they won't play any NC-17 rated films.
What is the highest grossing NC-17
rated film of all-time? That would be Showgirls at a mere $20.3
million, but this doesn't seem like it could possibly be a play for
box-office glory considering the film is also 100% spoken in Mandarin
and isn't the $128 million action fare Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Why is it rated NC-17? We will have to wait until next week, but Variety
says the production notes compare it to the sexually implicit Last
Tango in Paris.
Cut Version gets Chinese Release
Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, will
be aired in Chinese theaters from September 26.
Ren Zhonglun, the president of the Shanghai Film Group and a film
collaborator, said that he had watched the demo version of Lust,
Caution but didn't find any outrageous scenes. He did admit that
Chinese censors had voiced some opinions for revisions that Ang Lee has
In particular sex scenes will be cut.
Ang Lee's Lust, Caution has won
the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival
Golden Lion-winner Lust, Caution
will be trimmed of 30 of its steamiest and most violent minutes for
In Hong Kong, a Chinese Special
Administrative Region where the film is to be given a wide 50-print
release by Edko Films on Sept 26, "Lust" is also likely to be sliced.
We are still waiting for the advice of the ratings board, said an
Edko source. But it seems pretty clear that we are heading for cuts
in order to qualify for a III rating.
Of Hong Kong's four ratings, the III classification is the territory's
only one with mandatory effect. It gives theater box offices the power
to check IDs, requires that promotional materials are screened by the
censors and that videos are sold in sealed plastic wrapping.
No such a rating option exists in the Chinese mainland, where either
everyone gets to see a movie, from toddler to teen to pensioner, or no
one does. The lack of a film classification system means the only tools
at the censor's disposal are cutting entire scenes or simply banning a
movie, both drastic steps when one considers that script approval was
granted before a movie goes into production.
China's main movie watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and
Television (SARFT) refuses to introduce the rating system as it believes
that if a movie is unsuitable for children, then it's unsuitable for
Lust, Caution was originally due to open on Sept. 23 in mainland
China but is now more likely to bow on Oct. 26 only after completion of
a special blackout period, known as "Outstanding Golden Domestic Film
Exhibition Month," to allow for a crucial Communist Party congress.
Taiwan censors have approved the
release of the full version of director Ang Lee's award-winning erotic
spy thriller Lust, Caution. The committee voted unanimously on Friday that the
film could be released rated "R" without any censorship, said the
Taipei-based China Times.
The artistic achievement of 'Lust, Caution' has been recognised after
the (Golden Lion) award and it will better meet the public expectation
to release the film uncut, the report quoted government film
official Chen Chun-jhe as saying.
Lust, Caution is set to open in Taiwan on September 24.
The UK's BBFC have now passed the cinema release 18 uncut with the
Lust, Caution is a subtitled period drama
in Mandarin, set in Japanese-occupied China, about a young woman who
works with the resistance to help assassinate a top collaborator with
the Japanese. It was classified '18' for three scenes of strong sex, in
which we see considerable detail, including various sexual positions and
some crotch detail. Furthermore, in the first scene, it is not made
clear whether the woman is consenting to sex or not.
The film also contains a lengthy scene in which a group of students kill
a collaborator. He is repeatedly stabbed with a knife but does not die,
and his shirt becomes increasingly blood-stained. He is eventually
killed by one of the students who breaks his neck.
is encouraging to hear that the Philippine Movie and Television Review
and Classification Board (MTRCB) has allowed Ang Lee’s controversial,
award-winning film, Lust, Caution, to be shown without cuts.
The R-18 without cuts rating means the much-talked about sex scenes of
Tony Leung and Tang Wei—graphic, yes, but integral to the film—will be
seen intact by Philippine moviegoers.
Rather than cut the sexually explicit scenes, Ang and his producers
accepted the film’s NC-17 rating in the US. Usually, filmmakers slapped
with an NC-17 tag make cuts to get a less restrictive rating. They see
NC-17 as a death knell for a movie at the box-office since this rating
severely limits the size of the audience allowed to watch.
As we’ve written previously, these sex scenes are acrobatic and daring.
In a film that wonderfully, deliberately takes its time to tell a story
of emotional and political intrigue in World War II Shanghai, the scenes
appear toward the end of the film. Tony and Tang, playing characters
both wary and attracted to each other; circling, testing, baiting each
other, finally let go and have unembarrassed sex.
The full nudity scenes seem so real that not a few viewers wondered if
actual “pene” (borrowing a term, short for penetration, that was in
vogue in Manila in the ‘80s) took place. Our colleague did ask Tony and
Tang, who came with interpreters, about it in their joint press con with
us in Toronto. The reporter asked, I apologize ahead of time. I hope
no one will be offended. If you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to
answer. Did you have actual sex?
Chinese decision to order the excision of seven minutes of
explicit and unorthodox sexual activity from the Ang Lee's Lust,
Caution has prompted some unusually bold challenges to Beijing's
film censorship system.
Graduate law student Dong Yanbin has drawn widespread local attention by
trying to sue a cinema chain and the State Administration of Radio, Film
and Television (Sarft) for infringing his rights by screening a version
of the film with an incomplete plot structure.
His attempt has already been rebuffed by Beijing courts twice, but the
case highlights dissatisfaction with China's one-size-fits-all film
The system has no age-based ratings, which means any film release is
officially suitable for children, while faceless officials have wide
discretion to ban or cut titles for a wide range of loosely defined
moral, social or political reasons.
Critics say the system undermines the local film industry by making it
difficult to come up with compelling content for adult audiences. It
also fuels China's booming trade in uncut pirated versions of imported
titles such as Lust, Caution that can easily be bought on the
Film industry figures have long called for the introduction of a ratings
system. Sarft has not ruled out such a system, but has shown little
enthusiasm. The official Xinhua news agency this year said the
regulator's approach was based on the view that films not suitable
for children are not suitable for adults, either.
Caution, No Lust...
Thai film censor renders Lust, Caution as unwatchable
TV has blamed a drunken employee for breaches of broadcasting standards
that have seen the channel taken off air.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority banned Alt TV from broadcasting for
five hours next Monday after it ruled that Groove in the Park,
the channel's broadcast of a music event, breached standards of good
taste and decency and children's interests, and encouraged denigration
and discrimination on the basis of race.
In its response to the Authority, Alt TV explained that it had employed
the services of a moderator/censor to look at the text messages before
they were broadcast. Unfortunately, it said, the person who had been
employed had become intoxicated on the day and had failed to perform
As punishment, Alt TV has been ordered off-air between 12 noon and 5pm
on Labour Day and been told to instead display a statement which
summarises the authority's decision and apologises to viewers. The
channel has also been ordered to pay costs of $5000.
The authority said it considered the breaches to be "extremely serious".
A viewer complained that during the broadcast text messages of a racist
and sexual nature, including explicit language, were run across the
screen. The statements supporting death of and violence towards people
of particular races could, the authority said, aptly be described as
The Indonesian Broadcasting
Commission (KPI) and the Film Censorship Board (LSF) said they would
soon issue a new set of ethical codes for television aired
KPI chairman Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja said both KPI and LSF had
formulated standards of television programs but they needed to merge
concepts: We will also make changes based on complaints logged by
The commission said it had received many complaints from the public
over poor television programs, including those related to
"pornography, mysticism and violence".
We will also set benchmarks for television programs aimed at
children, teenagers and women, Sasa said.
Canada's TV censors have ruled
that triumphant sports athletes can't use the word "fuck" on air
during post-game interviews, even if they've just beaten the
Russians to win the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council said that The Sports
Network (TSN), Canada's cable sports channel, was wrong to allow
Canadian hockey forward Jonathan Toews to drop the F-bomb on live TV
after he and his teammates earned the world junior hockey crown.
During the January 5, 2007 live telecast, Toews enthusiastically
told TSN reporter James Cybulski that the Canadian team did a
"fucking great job" beating the Russians to win their second gold
medal in as many years at the championships.
The CBSC, reacting to a viewer complaint over the use of the f-word
in a daytime broadcast, ruled the action breached an industry code
of ethics that restricts the use of abusive language to between 9
p.m. and 6 a.m., when young people are less likely to watch TV.
As a sanction, TSN was ordered to broadcast the CBSC ruling in prime
Fiji's first Hindi language movie
has been banned from public screening in Fiji.
Adhura Sapna, centred on a rural land dispute between
indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, has already screened in New
But its director, Vimal Reddy, says the Fiji Censor Board has
certified it as unsuitable for screening due to its strong racial
To win permission to screen it the board says some of the dialogue
and the land issue needs to be deleted.
Reddy told the Fiji Times today that the parts the board asked him
to remove were the crux of the movie.
Around 40% of Fiji's 850,000 people are ethnic Indians, mostly
descendants of contract labourers imported by Britain to work on
Australian owned sugar plantations. Rural Indo-Fijians these days
most live on leased land with many of the leases now expiring.
17th October 2007
Adhura Sapna which was
locally produced will be released on DVD from Saturday.
Film director Vimal Reddy speaking from Australia said the Censor
Board has banned the film in Fiji theatres, which has prompted him
to consider an appeal.
Reddy, however, after careful consideration with the movie’s
producers decided to release the DVD without editing the scenes,
which according to the Censor board are sensitive issues for Fiji
Reddy said the decision was based on the basis that Fiji will be its
major market following its release: We have the other alternative
which we’ve been advised by the authorities there that releasing
DVDs for private viewing is permitted and we know that the best
Kano State Censorship Board has
extended the suspension earlier imposed on film production in the
state from Three to six months until 21 February, 2008, just as it
reeled out a massive number of measures to restrict the media
IThe Board under its former executive secretary, Alhaji A.A. Kurawa,
imposed a three-month suspension after a sex video clip of a popular
actress, Maryam Hiyana, went public.
Addressing a press briefing, the new executive secretary of the
board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, explained that the extension
of the suspension became necessary in order to enable his
administration introduce new measures for the 'improvement' of film
production in the state, adding that the policy would be vigorously
monitored by the board to ensure stringent penalties for defaulters.
Rabo stated that the board has created additional guidelines for
registration of production companies, artistes, internet cafes,
publishers and authors. According to the new laws, production
companies must have a minimum of N2.5 million as working capita; all
members of the production crew shall also have a minimum
qualification of a diploma or certificate in a related field from a
recognised institution. The board would now censor films on CDs and
VHS cassettes and all films marketed in the state,.
Rabo revealed that the board has cancelled singing and dancing of
any kind in Hausa films, and no producer would be allowed to go to
location for filming without his script being approved by a
recognised consultant and vetted by the board.
Members of the Kano State Association of Printers have also been
advised to make sure that before they print any book or poster meant
for public use they must obtain a clearance from the board.
Meanwhile, according to the executive secretary, stakeholders of
literary works such as authors, publishers, bookshops, poster
sellers, distributors and vendors are expected to register with the
board in compliance with the requirements of the Censorship Board
Law 2001: A person who therefore exhibits, publishes, sells or
distributes, in any manner whatsoever, a literary work without
Censorship Board certificate shall be liable to face the wrath of
the relevant provision of the Law.
He then called on the stakeholders and the people in the state to
support the task force in its purpose of sanitising the industry.
A filmmaker in northern Nigeria
has defied a ban on filming brought in by Islamic authorities after
a popular actress was caught up in a sex scandal.
The Kano State authorities suspended all filming in August for six
months after a video clip of popular actress Maryam Hiyana having
sex with a married man spread through Kano, the largest city in the
mainly Muslim north.
Officials then acted, saying that in future, singing and dancing
will be banned in movies, actors and directors will need a licence
to make films and production companies will have to meet strict
criteria before they will be allowed to do business.
Seventeen actors have already received bans for "immoral conduct"
such as drinking off set and another director was jailed for making
a film showing belly-dancing women.
The state's Islamic authorities say singing and dancing are
gratuitous sexual titillation banned by the Koran, and the new
regulations are necessary to protect public decency.
But producer Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama says he has found a loophole in
the state's harsh censorship powers.
His film, a Nigerian version of West Side Story, is funded by the US
embassy as part of "heart and minds" anti-violence campaign and is
therefore out of reach of the state censor's knife.
Iyan Tama's film, Tsintsiya (The Broom in Hausa), is
about a young couple who find love across ethnic boundaries during
bloody riots that rocked the state in 2004.
Filming began before the ban was introduced but was completed last
But Abubakar Rabo, head of the Kano State Censorship Board and a
former deputy chief of the religious Hisbah police, disagrees -
saying the ban was needed to prevent the religious public attacking
filmmakers. And while the loophole allowed the filming of
Tsintsiya to be completed, it will not be sold in Kano without
Iyan Tama says he does not care if his film is banned in Kano, and
hopes his latest offering will be seen and accepted by a world
Filmmakers are up in arms against the
latest decision of the Philippines Movie and Television Review and
Classification Board (MTRCB), stopping the commercial showing of
independently produced short films on human rights in the country.
The MTRCB reviewed the 30-second to one-minute films, which tackle
unexplained killings and enforced disappearances involving activists and
journalists, among others.
The following day, the board informed the Philippine Independent
Filmmakers Cooperative (PIFC) that the short films were rated “X”, which
means they are deemed unfit for public viewing.
Scenes in this film are presented unfairly, one-sided, and undermine
the faith and confidence of the government and duly constituted
authorities, thus, not fit for public exhibition, explained MTRCB
chairman Ma. Consoliza Laguardia.
The 13 short films contain excerpts from news video footage from the era
of martial law, the killing of former Sen. Ninoy Aquino, and
demonstrations during the Marcos administration, up to the killings of
militant leaders, and the abduction of others, including Jonas Burgos.
The 13 short films titled RIGHTS were supposed to be shown
yesterday at the Indie Sine cinema in a mall in Ortigas Center, in
commemoration of the 35th anniversary of martial law and International
Day of Peace.
The MTRCB gave the petitioner five days to file their appeal for a
second review. Campaigners say that the appeal will be lodged.
Multi-awarded filmmaker Carlitos Siguion-Reyna of the Directors Guild of
the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) and Concerned Artists of the Philippines
(CAP) said the MTRCB decision against the showing of the RIGHTS
is indicative of “an abusive law”.
The Philippines Movie and Television
Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) took back its "X" banned rating
on a short independent film which tackled the abduction of agriculturist
Jonas Burgos, his family have said.
The previously banned Rights is a
collection of public service advertisements containing 15 short works by
Filipino independent filmmakers supporting calls for Jonas's release.
Jonas's brother Jose Luis "JL" Burgos said the second review committee
of the MTRCB gave the film Rights an "R-13" meaning that it can be
watched only by people over 13 years old.
He said Jonas's supporters trooped to the MTRCB to appeal the original
One of the short films entitled Where
Is Jonas? was included in Rights and is now available for viewing at
online video sharing site
It features a photo of Jonas's father, the late freedom fighter Jose
Burgos, smiling in the company of two boys. However, the boy on the
right flickers, then disappears...
A Chinese TV talent programme has been
banned by the state's broadcasting censor for being "vulgar".
The First Heartthrob, a Pop
Idol-style competition, was accused of catering to "the low-grade
interests of a minority" and cancelled with immediate effect. The State
Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) added that the show
lacked social responsibility.
About 100,000 contestants auditioned for the show, which began last
year, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.
Chinese media reports suggest that a recent episode in which a
contestant reduced one of the show's female judges to tears may have
prompted the move.
The First Heartthrob is one of several TV talent shows to achieve high
ratings in China.
Last week, Sarft required another such programme, Happy Boy's Voice,
to include only "healthy and ethically inspiring" songs, and to try to
avoid broadcasting "gossip" about the participants. It also banned
judges from humiliating contestants.
Sarft ordered all Chinese broadcasters to note the ban of The First
Heartthrob and urged them to: voluntarily abide by political
discipline and propaganda discipline
It's bought out British nutters from
under the woodwork. On BBC's Ceefax 145 letters page a writer applauded
China's regulators for cancelling the show for having "low morals" and
wished we could do the same here.
Hmmm China style TV regulation? I'd be
the first at Dover trying to get out of the country if that happened!
China is clamping down on television
shows deemed vulgar or in poor taste...no sexually explicit programmes,
nothing featuring sex toys and contraceptives and anything involving sex
change operations or real-life cosmetic surgery is off the air.
China wants to the fill the ether with solid communist values ahead of a
high-level party congress next month, where President Hu Jintao will
cement his power base.
Chinese TV is remarkably chaste and nudity or even the softest of porn
are completely unthinkable on air. But reality-TV shows have been
screening 'bawdy' behaviour and exhibitionism, to the authorities'
The campaign against "vulgar" television has already shut down The
First Heart-throb, a spectacularly chaotic version of Britain's Pop
Growing affluence in China and increased competition between regional
broadcasters means there is greater demand for this type of show, often
at the expense of the traditional, patriotic performances favoured by
the Communist government.
The state broadcasting watchdog recently banned programmes featuring
surgery and sex-change operations. Beautiful Makeover, a reality show in
the southern province of Guangdong which showed scenes of plastic
surgery operations, was axed. All levels of television broadcasters
must not plan or produce sex change or plastic surgery programmes
involving public participation (including news, specials or interviews),
effective immediately, Sarft , the Chinese TV censor, said.
Sarft also criticised other provincial stations broadcasting "lewd and
obscene" images. All levels of television broadcasters must not air
any vulgar content involving sexual experiences or functions of sex toys
and birth control devices, effective immediately, Sarft said. It
also has told the state broadcaster CCTV to rein in racy advertisers.
The government is also keeping a lid on any controversial movies before
the 17th Party Congress, due to start on 15 October. Only visions of
China's "harmonious society" will make the cinema screens and the period
around the meeting will be known as Outstanding Golden Domestic Film
Among the films hit by the rules will be Ang Lee's racy wartime drama
Lust, Caution. The Chinese market is already getting a toned-down
version of the steamy movie, and it has now been postponed until after
the congress ends.
Cleaning up Radio
The broadcasting censor, SARFT, has
banned two sexually explicit radio talk shows in Southwest China's
The daily talk shows broadcast by Sichuan Provincial People's Broadcast
Station and Chengdu Municipal People's Broadcast Station "seriously
broke the rules", the administration said.
Broadcast after 9 pm the two- to three-hour long programs dealt with
material of an "extreme pornographic nature" and talked about sex lives,
sexual experiences, sex organs and the efficacy of certain drugs for
The administration ordered the two stations to immediately suspend the
programs and others like it and said "those responsible must be
punished. Local broadcasters must draw lessons from these cases and
improve their social responsibility and professional skills to create
righteous public opinion.
The State Administration of Film, Radio
and Television (SAFRT) switched off 13 radio sex talk shows in five
central and southern provinces recently, according to SAFRT's website.
According to the notice issued by SAFRT on September 13, 11 sex explicit
talk shows broadcast by provincial broadcast stations in Hubei, Hunan,
Guangdong, Guizhou and Hainan were suspended for their pornographic
The notice said "the problem of the five broadcast stations is serious
and those responsible will be dealt with".
The notice said the banned programs dealt with material of an "extreme
pornographic nature" and talked about sex lives, sexual experiences, sex
organs and the efficacy of certain drugs for sex.
Local broadcasters must draw lessons from these cases and improve their
social responsibility and professional ethics, said the notice.
The SAFRT said it will establish a hotline in near future for the public
to report vulgar programs they discover
China's broadcasting watchdog has banned
all "sexually suggestive" advertising on television and radio.
Adverts for products like sex-related health supplements and sex toys
will be prohibited, the State Administration of Radio, Film and
Television (Sarft) said. "Vulgar" adverts for things like breast
enhancements and female underwear will also be banned, Sarft said.
The watchdog said the move was taken as the adverts were "socially
corrupting". In a circular, Sarft said that adverts featuring suggestive
language or scantily-clad women were "detrimental to society":
Sexually suggestive ads and bad ads not only mislead consumers seriously
and harm public health, but are socially corrupting and morally
depraving, and directly discredit the radio and TV industry.
Broadcasters that do not obey the rules would face severe penalties, it
Sarft has been tightening its grip ahead of the Chinese Communist
Party's five-yearly congress in October.
New Zealand's horror fans have been
eagerly awaiting the release of Hostel Part II on the big screen,
but it appears all they will get to watch is a diluted DVD version.
New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification says one
scene is just too full on and would be "injurious to the public good".
The censors ruled that the movie could only be released if the scene was
However, the film’s distributor, Sony Pictures (NZ), and many of the
fans believe the film would not be harmful to the public if it was
Hostel: Part II was said to be a difficult film to classify, so
the censors arranged a controlled public viewing of the movie. The
people involved in the public viewing represented a broad spectrum of
the New Zealand public and were not all horror fans - most of them would
normally avoid such films.
After the viewing, the audience was surveyed and 64% said the film
should be given an R18 rating and released uncut.
Sony Pictures (NZ) appealed the New Zealand censor's decision, but the
Film and Literature Board of Review rejected the appeal by a vote of 3 -
2 and also ruled that the offending scene needed to be censored before
the film could be released in New Zealand.
Sony Pictures (NZ) has said they will not edit the film for New Zealand
cinemas as it would not make financial sense to do so. Kiwi horror fans
will therefore miss out on seeing the gory flick on the silver screen. A
censored version may eventually be released on DVD.
Hostel: Part II was released
uncensored in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the United States and most of
Bangladesh's censor board said that it
had banned a quarter of all films made by its small "Dhaliwood" movie
industry in the past year to stamp out "immoral" cinema.
The industry based in Dhaka made 86 films in the year to June said
vice-chairwoman of the censor board Kamrun Nahar. But a quarter were
banned because of excessive fight scenes and dirty dancing, Nahar said.
These films are not healthy and they hardly reflect the country's
culture and tradition. They were full with obscene materials and don't
have any coherent storyline, she said. The banned films include
Rebel Girl, Tough Girl, Massacre and The Muscleman, she said.
Nahar said, however, that some producers were able to show movies after
extensive cuts were made.
An Islamist-allied government began the campaign against "obscene" films
in 2004. It amended the film censorship act last year to include a
three-year jail term for producers whose movies are judged to be against
Bangladeshi cultural values.
An all party committee of the Nova Scotia
legislature is expressing concern over the apparent lack of diversity on
the province's film classification board.
The human resources committee has unanimously agreed to defer the
appointments of 14 members of the board pending a response about the
selection process from the Department of Environment and Labour.
New Democrat Howard Epstein put forward the motion and says it's time
the province made sure that agencies, boards and commissions reflect the
society they represent. He says seven of the 14 appointments are over
the age of 60, something that doesn't reflect current population ratios
despite the province's aging population.
The board appointees work part-time, reviewing and classifying all film
and video released in Nova Scotia.
Ongoing Lack of Diversity
28th September 2007
Nova Scotia’s film classification board
will be without a full complement for at least another month.
The legislature’s all-party human resources committee met and again
delayed appointing 14 people to the board, this time because no NDP
members were there.
Liberals on the committee said it was apparent there just weren’t enough
people applying to ensure diversity on the board so the committee might
as well make the appointments.
Back on Censorship Track
5th November 2007
The group of Nova Scotians hoping to
review films for the province finally got the thumbs-up at the end of
Labour Minister Mark Parent, the minister responsible for the film
classification board, has told the committee that few people applied for
the board, leading to a backlog of DVDs awaiting classification. He said
in an Oct. 10 letter that 234 DVDs had piled up, but it is now down to
An all-party committee approved the appointments with no one objecting.
Destricted, a compilation of films
by acclaimed artists about pornography, is now playing in Moscow, after
a delay its distributors blamed on censorship.
But according to the film's Russian distributors, Destricted
almost didn't make it to the capital's cinema screens. It was shown at
this year's Moscow International Film Festival in late June, but its
planned cinema release later that month was repeatedly postponed, amid
rumors of a ban from the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency.
Sem Klebanov, president of the movie's Russian distributor, Cinema
Without Frontiers, said that he submitted the film to the cinema agency
a few weeks before the Moscow International Film Festival to obtain
approval for general release. However: they said it couldn't be shown
because it was an amoral film, it was pornography.
In July and August, newspapers speculated on the reasons why the release
of the film, whose Russian title is Banned from Cinemas, was
Even though Destricted finally received certification, it
looks like opponents of pornography need not worry: At a recent showing,
audience member after audience member got up and left, seemingly more
out of boredom than disgust.
Destricted is described as a series of reflections on how
pornography affects society. Highlights include Serbian performance
artist Marina Abramovic's Balkan Erotic Epic, which is
refreshingly uncomplicated where other contributions seem laden with
intellectual baggage. Abramovic solemnly narrates how sexual rituals are
integrated into traditional Balkan culture: Farmers hump the ground to
ensure a successful crop, and women give their husbands a drink
containing a fish that was stored in their vaginas to ensure fidelity.
Long live our Slavic faith, Abramovic's subjects sing as they
massage their breasts during a fertility rite.
The film was only permitted in Russia for viewing by over-21s.
The raid follows NEVA’s relaxing of
restrictions on adult movies in June, when NEVA lifted its ban on
displays of pubic hair. Tokyo police decided that some material that is
acceptable under the revised standards adopted by NEVA go beyond what is
allowed under Japanese law, which forbids any commercial distribution of
material that displays sexual organs on film and in print.
Despite the fact that Article 21 of the Japanese constitution guarantees
that no censorship shall be maintained by the Japanese
government, the Japanese government historically has used public hygiene
laws to restrict the distribution of obscene materials, according to a
comparative study of Japanese and American law written by legal scholar
Lawrence Ward Beer.
Under Article 175 of Japan’s revised 1907 Criminal Code, A person who
distributes or sells an obscene writing, picture or other object or who
publicly displays the same, shall be punished with imprisonment ... or a
Further complicating the distribution of sexually explicit material in
Japan is the fact that the definition of “obscene” is even more unclear
under Japanese law than under the Miller test for obscenity that guides
It is not yet clear whether any charges
will be filed against the producers, distributors or NEVA stemming from
Thursday’s raids in Tokyo; according to the Sankei Shimbun, the police
currently are investigating how the confiscated material should be
Police launched the recent raids on NEVA
in reaction to the current crop of DVDs, which it claims fail to
sufficiently mask on-screen action, thereby qualifying them as obscene.
Until recently, the main players in the AV industry cooperated with the
Nihon Ethics of Video Association (NEVA), which applies its seal of
approval to discs that comply with self-imposed censorship.
Participation in NEVA is voluntary, but most makers joined because
major distributors wouldn't touch their products otherwise, an AV
producer tells Weekly Playboy: Their influence was such that an old
saying went, 'Your video won't succeed without girls who squeal and
But then a certain company developed 'digital masking' (which
typically appears as a mosaic). In a scene showing oral sex for example,
the mosaic would perfectly overlap with a man's procreative member, so
it was like watching the real thing . . . and the main business shifted
to the independent operators that applied these digitalized mosaics.
Faced with this challenge to its authority, NEVA began relaxing its own
inspection standards concerning the appearance of mosaics (from October
2004) and other anatomical displays (from August 2006), and it was this,
reports Asahi Geino (Sept. 6), that led to the crackdown.
Reviewing the evidence, the reporter
agreed that when compared with more staid DVDs, the mosaics on these
productions left practically nothing to the imagination.
In the beginning, rental shops wouldn't put out discs unless they
complied with NEVA standards, but now only about 30 percent of the items
for rent are NEVA-approved, observes Ganari Takahashi, a former
president of Soft On Demand, who adds that "digital coverup" work is
expensive: It's done one frame at a time, outsourced to overseas labs
that employ as many as 100 technicians. A skilled technician might
devote 8 hours to a single minute's worth of mosaic. But for a long time
the mosaics in NEVA-approved AVs didn't incorporate this level of
craftsmanship and were crude by comparison.
Chinese action star Jet Li has voiced
frustration that his Hollywood films do not get shown in his home
Writing on his website, the star said his 2000 hit Romeo Must Die
was banned by censors for featuring gangsters.
In 2001, Kiss of the Dragon was banned because Li's character, a
Chinese policeman, killed people abroad.
Li writes: If gangsters aren't appropriate and police officers aren't
appropriate, then what type of character can there be that wouldn't
start an argument? It leaves only the ancient Chinese stories to be
Movies and videos shown in Sweden will
continue to undergo the scrutiny of the world’s oldest film censor, the
National Board of Film Censors.
Two of the parties in the center-right government, the Conservative
Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing Swedish film
Liberal politician Cecilia Wikström told Swedish Radio news that
censorship is an old-fashioned method of trying to prevent people from
watching movies, when today it is possible to download any film content
over the Internet.
The purpose of the Board of Film Censors is to decide the age limit for
movies and to edit out any scenes with heavy violence. The board itself
wants to remove its censorship role, and says it hasn’t made a cut in a
film in several years.
However, the plan has stalled because another government partner, the
Christian Democrats, say there is still a need for film censorship to
Gunnel Arrbäck, head of Sweden’s National
Board of Film Censors, is to resign from her post, after 26 years on the
Arrbäck told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet she had been unable to get
her planned changes to the board’s role sanctioned, and would therefore
leave her position.
Two of the parties in Sweden’s center-right government, the conservative
Moderates and the Liberals, have proposed abolishing film censorship.
However, the plan has stalled because another government partner, the
Christian Democrats, argue there is still a need for film censorship to
The board itself, the world’s oldest film censor, has repeatedly pushed
for a change in its role, restricting it to film classification.
The board says it has not made a cut to a film released in Sweden since
Martin Scorcesse’s Casino in 1995.
The whole of Pakistan is watching
Kaafila, but we were denied the release, thanks to the Pakistani
piracy mafia and a few insecure producers, storms Ammtoje Mann,
whose film, Kaafila has been banned from release in Pakistan.
The censor board cited reasons seemed to be brought out merely to deny
permission. Ammtoje explains: It came as a surprise and the reasons
cited were ridiculous like the star on a general's uniform, or one of
the travel agents being a Pakistani. I offered to even do the said cuts,
and suddenly the list seemed to increase. A member unofficially cited,
don't push it. How much will you cut?
Interestingly, the protagonist of the film Sunny Deol plays a Pakistani
police officer and his character is shown in a good light.
Enlightening on the modus operandi of the Pakistani piracy mafia,
Ammtoje Mann says, It is a very interesting plot, nothing short of a
film one. First they let the publicity of the film happen in Pakistan.
They ensure that a very good amount is spent to raise public
expectations, and then they make sure we don't release the film in
theatres. And then they use the publicity to increase their pirated VCD
sales.Kaafila, after all the hype, is now being demanded by
audiences on pirated VCDs, as they could not see the film in the
Sad at the lobbied thwarted attempts of a simultaneous Indo-Pak release
to build a cultural bridge between India and Pakistan, the makers have
decided not to continue the Pak release procedure.
For airing a dance number that was too
sexy and very suggestive on the daily noontime game show Wowowee,
ABS-CBN has received another warning from the Philippines Movie and
Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB)
A memorandum from MTRCB chair Marissa Laguardia said about viewer
complaints: This office [agrees] with the viewers, particularly
[about] the part where Valdez spread her legs.
A three-episode suspension was earlier imposed by the MTRCB on
Wowowee on account of several violations, including one in its May
12 episode where the breast of Eda Nolan, a cast member of the youth
show Gokada Go, was exposed while dancing. The suspension is on
The Rush Hour 3, with its
clueless cops and international star Jackie Chan, seems like an
unlikely political football.
But Asia is abuzz with talk of the slapstick comedy being slapped
with a rumored ban in mainland China, even though star Chan is one
of China's favorite sons.
The Film Bureau, the body that oversees the release approval
procedure, told Variety the pic is still being considered by the
censorship committee, and insisted it has not been banned. But
sources close to the film and other distributors in the region say
Chinese censors will likely not greenlight a theatrical outing in
The problem is apparently a scene featuring a Chinese organized
crime family that Chan and Chris Tucker's characters take on during
a visit to Paris. With Triad dealings so central to the plot,
authorities possibly much higher than the Film Bureau have
apparently decided the pic is fundamentally anti-Chinese and are not
offering filmmakers a chance to recut.
The French Commission for Film
Classification wants to extend its powers to include rating festival
The commission has asked the Culture Ministry to deny festivals the
exemption that allows them to dodge the age restrictions placed on films
on general release.
The commission does not have the authority to cut films but can ask the
Culture Ministry not to issue a permit for theatrical release.
In its annual report, the body reported that of 1,087 films viewed in
the past year, 1,031 were deemed suitable for all audiences. 39 films
were forbidden to under those 12 and 16 to those under 16. Only one
film, Saw III, was restricted to those 18 and older.
Last week, the commission whipped up a storm by ruling that Romanian
abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d’Or
at Cannes, is suitable for all audiences.
The film will be released Aug. 29
with a warning for “sensitive viewers” and the suggestion that children
be accompanied by an adult.
The Indian government has banned
two underwear advertisements — Lux Cozy and Amul Macho — claiming
them to be indecent, vulgar and suggestive.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry has instructed all
television channels to stop showing the advertisement with immediate
effect. The ads have been considered "indecent, vulgar and
suggestive" and thus violate the Advertising Code, the Ministry said
in its order.
The advertisements were being shown on many channels including Star
Plus, India TV, NDTV and IBN 7.
The I&B ministry has directed all channels to stop screening ads of
Lux Cozy and Amul Macho. One of the ads shows a woman washing a
man’s underwear at a ghat and progressively getting turned on. Her
washing actions turn more suggestive, as she pounds the underwear.
In the other, a washerwoman calls at an apartment to pick up laundry
and a man wearing a towel answers the door. As his towel drops,
leaving him only in his undies, she eyes him flirtatiously.
Awarapan, a movie starring
Bollywood actor Emran Hashmi, has triggered a fierce court row
between Pakistan's government and a movie producer who wants the
The ministry of culture and the Censor Board, in a joint reply to
the Lahore High Court, have justified the screening of Awarapan,
saying it was produced in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and not
The reply was submitted on the petition of producer Younas Malik,
who challenged the movie's exhibition.
The government told the court that Al-Alam Plastic Factory LLC in
the UAE had produced the movie and its distributor, Sohail Khan, had
applied for permission to screen the movie in Pakistan. The movie
was mainly shot in Hong Kong and partly in Pakistan.
The government also explained that there were three categories for
Indian film or films with Indian artists in Pakistan.
Films produced in India are
banned in Pakistan since 1965.
Films produced in Pakistan
containing Indian artists were also not allowed under Martial Law
Films produced in foreign
countries except India, even though having Indian artists, could
be shown in Pakistan in view of the amendment carried out in Rule
10 of Censorship of Films Rules of 1980.'
Awarapan' had been allowed under a
third category. The Censor Board had issued a certificate, clearing
the film as suitable for public exhibition with certain cuts.
While Bollywood movies are not allowed into Pakistan, there is a
huge thriving market for Indian cassettes, CDs and DVDs, allegedly
smuggled from the Gulf.
As India's chief film censor,
there are films Sharmila Tagore enjoys to watch but will not allow
the Indian public to see.
She describes the Mike Nichols film Closer, which starred
Julia Roberts and Jude Law, as beautiful, brilliant and
But the producers would not agree to cut some sexually explicit
dialogue, and so the film did not get its certificate for release in
She said she feared that the wordy sex talk of the film's neurotic
Londoners, once hastily dubbed into Hindi, might not be
well-received by Indian audiences - especially those outside the big
metropolises, who are typically more conservative, less educated
and, she says, less "media-literate".
Films can corrupt, she said, particularly when it comes to
how men view women. At the same time we have to know the pulse of
the people. We don't want to be too restrictive.
Her team sits through about 1,000 feature-length films each year.
They order cuts to be made in roughly two out of every three films,
and deny a distribution certificate to about a dozen films each
year, often for inciting violence against minorities.
She regrets that at the back of everyone's minds are India's small
band of conservative zealots who react noisily, often for political
gain, whenever they believe Indian values are threatened, organising
mobs that break and burn objects in front of television cameras and
beat people up.
The fear of what Tagore calls street censorship has forced the film
board to be more strict than it might otherwise be: In India
everybody is in the mood to get offended right now.
She reckons things have become worse since she was the target of
angry conservatives in the 1960s when she appeared on a film
magazine cover wearing only a bikini - an unprecedented level of
public skimpiness for an Indian woman at the time.
Bikinis are now more than acceptable, and some Bollywood stars have
even started kissing and performing sex scenes onscreen in recent
years. Tagore is not impressed: I've seen actors kissing and
they're still not very comfortable with it. They're trying to be
progressive. But India is very superficially modern. In these films
the dresses are modern, the dancing is modern, the hairstyles are
modern, but when it comes to thinking, then they're very
Sathyajith Maitipe has just
received instructions from the Sri Lanka Censorship Board to remove
the sexual scenes from his film, even if he expects to get an Adults
Only certificate. The film is Bora Diya Pokuna (Scent of the
This is no surprise; similar
demands have been made of other filmmakers: Ashoka Handagama (Aksharaya
/ Letter from the Fire) and Prasanna Vithanage (Purahada
Kaluwara / Darkness of the Full Moon) in the past.
The Sri Lankan Public Performance Board operates under the Ministry
of Defence. Their brief is to keep an eye on anything they
considered might damage Culture or interfere with National Security.
The government's attempt to pass
the Film Bill has run into opposition. Last week the Thai Film
Directors Association and Thai Film Foundation issued a protest
against the bill, which has been approved by the cabinet and is now
going into the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).
The bill will introduce a film rating system, which will govern
access to cinemas by age classification. If passed by the NLA, the
bill will also oversee the setting up of a National Film and Video
Committee to be responsible for assigning the ratings and possibly
supervising other film-related policies.
The protesters raised two valid points. Firstly, the film and video
committee, under the bill, will be made up of 16 government
officials and seven ''experts'' appointed by the government.
That goes against the spirit of allowing more public participation
and guaranteeing the film industry gets a fair say.
In early discussions on the bill, film professionals proposed a
model where the committee would be made up of an equal number of
representatives from three sectors, the government, the film
industry and the public, comprising groups such as parent or student
associations. The idea is to ensure that the voice of filmmakers,
and the audience, is heard, rather than letting government officials
with limited understanding of the movie business make all the
decisions, which often betray double standards and smack of
unrealistic calls to cut or ban a film.
The committee is necessary, and filmmakers' demands should be taken
The second issue raised by the protesters is that it maintains the
state's right to cut or ban films. This is also against the spirit
of a fair rating system.
Age restrictions mean the government already possesses a measure of
control, and to retain the right to cut scenes or ban films is
disturbing at least, and dictatorial at most.
The idea should be to promote and oversee, not to control, cut and
The Ireland's film censor John
Kelleher is calling for a debate on pornography to modernize
"inadequate" legislation dealing with the adult industry, saying the
current system fails to protect children and ignores modern
technology: I think our society would benefit from a rational and
informed discussion about all the issues and viewpoints relating to
pornography. For example, what implications are there in content
that would currently be prohibited here being readily available on
Kelleher said that most of the material he is currently required to
ban could be released without causing much offense.
[does this statement implicitly include hardcore?]
The term pornography is not used in the film and censorship
legislation, Kelleher said. The 1989 Video Recordings Act
empowers the film censor to prohibit a video if, in his opinion, it
contains ‘obscene or indecent matter’ which would tend to ‘deprave
or corrupt’ persons viewing it. Note the act refers to ‘persons,’
not young children, so that includes all persons, i.e. adults. It’s
quite hard to envisage how any of the so-called soft-porn DVDs could
possibly be deemed to ‘deprave or corrupt’ an adult.
[yes but what aout hardcore?]
Unlike many European countries, Ireland does not license sex
retailers. Videos sold in self-proclaimed adult stores in Ireland
are usually technically illegal because under the Video Recordings
Act, a video cannot be sold until it is rated by the Irish Film
Censor’s Office. Shop owners often bypass the censor’s office,
leading to occasional police raids where films are seized en masse
and sent to the censor’s office to confirm they have not been rated.
In 2006, the censor’s office was involved in 55 court cases where
films were being sold without being certified.
Kelleher thinks the laws should be updated: Bizarrely, it is
actually not an offense for a video store to supply a DVD to a
person who is younger than the rating age designated on the label.
Many shop owners oppose regulation of adult videos. They say that
fees for classifying films will not be recouped on the profits from
What one person deems pornographic, another may find innocuous.
It is a term commentators find notoriously difficult to define. In
my view, images that are sexually explicit need not necessarily be
pornographic, Kelleher said.
The right of the Irish Film Censor
to ban explicit films is to be challenged in the High Court. The
case against the Censorship of Films Appeals Board is being taken by
a section of the country’s adult shop industry.
A catalyst for the case was the decision to increase the cost of
having films reviewed and licensed by the Irish Film Censor’s Office
(IFCO). These are prohibitive for small scale specialist releases.
The High Court challenge comes as concern rises about the effect
some of the extreme hard-core titles are having on society. Rape
crisis groups have said extreme material on sale in the unregulated
adult shop sector is contributing to growing levels of violence in
The Culture, Arts and Heritage
Ministry plans to set up a committee comprising local film activists
to re-evaluate banned films.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said that the proposed committee
would make the evaluation in terms of creativity, theme and
sensitivity, particularly in the case of films banned for their
Rais said the appointment of the panel of arts activists could help
in terms of the creativity aspect of the films.
However, he said, the committee would only be empowered to evaluate
a film before it got the approval for screening from the censorship
Pakistan's first and only television chat show
hosted by a transvestite is being taken off air after falling foul
of the state censor.
Ali Saleem, who dresses up as Begum Nawazish Ali for the show, said
its last broadcast will be on 1 July.
The popular late night programme features politicians and
celebrities in frank conversations.
It is believed to have aggravated feelings in the army with its
remarks about the military.
Referring to pressure from the censors, Ali Saleem told the BBC:
My show was being slaughtered and the channel was helpless to do
anything about it.
He said that some members of the army were particularly offended
that the character of Begum Nawazish Ali is supposed to be the widow
of an army colonel.
Ali Saleem has been previously described in a US
daily as having devised the perfect, if improbable, cover for
breaking taboos in conservative, Muslim Pakistan. He is said to
have managed not only to bring up the subject of sex on his
prime-time television talk show, but to do so without stirring a
backlash from fundamentalist Islamic clerics. And he has done so as
Cuts & Bans...
proposes Suitable for All, 15, 18 & Banned film certificates
Big Sister at our Ministry of unCulture is pushing
a new Film Act that promises a weird rating system that will zap us
back to the Dark Ages, if not into a black hole.
Now in the pipeline to be tabled before Cabinet and subsequently to
the National Legislative Assembly, the draft of the new film law,
written by the Council of State under the guidance of the hawks at
the unCulture Ministry, proposes a system unseen before in the
history of film rating (bar Communist states).
As written, there will be the G rating, given to a
movie suitable for all age groups; the over-15 rating, the over-18,
and here's the kick: the "Banned" rating.
Hidden like a dagger in a cloak is another clause
that gives legal right to the film committees, which will be made up
mainly of bureaucrats, to axe "inappropriate scenes". They just
adore their scissors, these self-appointed dogs - I mean watchdogs -
and with the tenacity of a rottweiler biting into the arm of a
suspect murderer, they'll do everything to cling on to their power
to cut, hack, bite, butcher, amputate, mutilate and maim. In short,
there will be both the rating and the cut.
This proposed legislation is not in the least an
improvement to the antiquated, pre-constitutional monarchy 1930 Film
Act that is still being enforced today. Seventy-seven years of
trying to catch up with reality, and still we fail miserably. It's
not just disappointing, it's utterly sad.
The BBFC has rejected the video game
Manhunt 2. This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere
in the UK. The game was submitted in both a PS2 and a Nintendo Wii
version. The decision was taken by the Director and the Presidential
Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Lord Taylor of Warwick and Janet
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: Rejecting a work is a very
serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we
try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which
remove the material which contravenes the Board’s published Guidelines.
In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. Manhunt 2
is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting
bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which
constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little
alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual
sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged,
in the game.
Although the difference should not be exaggerated the fact of the
game’s unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer
lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the
different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating
this submission from the original Manhunt game. That work was
classified ‘18’ in 2003, before the BBFC’s recent games research had
been undertaken, but was already at the very top end of what the Board
judged to be acceptable at that category.
Against this background, the Board’s carefully considered view is
that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform,
would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and
minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly
that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be
unacceptable to the public.
The BBFC has stated that there
was no political influence in the decision to ban Rockstar's Manhunt
The original Manhunt caused a media frenzy following release when
it was unfairly linked by the press to the murder of teenager Stefan
However, the BBFC's Sue Clark has told GamesIndustry.biz that past
incidents have not influenced the decision to deny the sequel to UK
That had nothing to do with this decision, absolutely not, said
Clark: We are independent of government and independent of the
industry and we reached this decision based on our guidelines and our
concerns and not on any other basis at all.
Recent research by the BBFC showed that negative press surrounding
controversial games actually encourages sales. A UK ban of Manhunt 2
would not be able to stop dedicated consumers importing copies on
Ireland has joined the UK in banning
the violent video game Manhunt 2.
The Irish Film Censors Office (IFCO) said it contained gross acts of
violence, making it the first video game to be banned in the State: A
prohibition order has been made by IFCO in relation to the video game
Manhunt 2. The Order was made under Sec 7 (1) (b) of the Video
Recordings Act 1989 which refers to acts of gross violence or cruelty
(including mutilation and torture).
IFCO recognises that in certain films, DVDs and video games, strong
graphic violence may be a justifiable element within the overall context
of the work. However, in the case of Manhunt 2, IFCO believes
that there is no such context, and the level of gross, unrelenting and
gratuitous violence is unacceptable.
Rockstar Games today said that it “emphatically disagrees” with the
decision to ban Manhunt 2 from stores in the UK.
The subject matter of 'Manhunt 2' is in line with other mainstream
entertainment choices for adult consumers, the company said,
stressing that the game is aimed at over-18s and not children: Manhunt 2
is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and
horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream
entertainment choices for adult consumers.
The statement added: We respect those who have different opinions about
the horror genre and video games as a whole, but we hope they will also
consider the opinions of the adult gamers for whom this product is
We believe all products should be rated to allow the public to make
informed choices about the media and art they wish to consume.
The company will consider over the next few days whether or not to
launch an appeal, a spokesman said.
The Entertainment Software Rating
Board (ESRB) has given Manhunt 2 an AO rating, the highest rating
which will severely restrict its sale in the U.S.
The problems arise from the fact that the major U.S retailers do not
stock games with an AO rating.
Although this is only an initial rating, giving the publishers Take Two
a chance to modify the game, it is difficult to see what can be done to
mollify the censors.
A Take-Two representative commented: Manhunt 2 was created for
mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature)
rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of
media. We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of
Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World's End has been censored for Chinese cinema audiences,
according to Variety.
Some scenes with Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat, playing Singapore pirate
Captain Sao Feng, have been trimmed.
Variety quoted local media reports that said the cuts included Chow's
recitation of a poem in Cantonese called Guan Shan Yue.
On Chinese web forums, many people have criticised the film's image of
Chow's character - who is bald, has long nails and is dressed in Qing
dynasty style. They have said it is the image of the Chinese in the eyes
of Hollywood producers.
China Film Group, which distributes the film, initially said it had made
no cuts, then declined to comment on a Beijing News report that it had
cut scenes involving too much violence and horror, Variety said.
The report said the cuts make the film
difficult to follow: The sudden debut of the captain confused the
audience at the Beijing screening, the report said.
The New Zealand Office of Film and
Literature Classification has banned the latest work from Australian
Philip Nitschke for its step by step guide on assisted suicide and
instructions on how to break the law.
After five months of consultation the censors have decided to ban The
Peaceful Pill Handbook which has been ruled objectionable material,
making it illegal to buy, sell, import or own in New Zealand.
Dr Nitschke handed the book to the censors in February, drawing
submissions from the Medical Council, Ministry of Health, Police and
Chief Censor Bill Hastings, says although suicide is not illegal, the
book advocated various criminal acts to make a persons death possible.
The Irish Film Censor, John Kelleher, has today (30th May 2007)
published his Annual Report for the year 2006.
Among the developments highlighted in the Report:
More than 10,000 cinema films and DVD/videos were certified
during the year
There was a significant increase in the number
of non-mainstream or ‘arthouse’ films submitted for certification
The number of visitors to the IFCO website was
up 16% on the previous year
The results of the research IFCO commissioned Lansdowne Market
Research to carry out into the attitudes of parents and
adolescents to strong language in films
IFCO also commissioned a study by Dr. Jim Barratt,
international film and media consultant, to carry out into future
classification options in the fast changing landscape of film and
A biography of Burma’s former late
prime minister U Nu, timed to be released on what would have been
his 100th birthday today, has been banned by the Burmese censorship
The book’s author Than Win Hlaing, who recently finished a seven
year prison sentence for writing about independence hero general
Aung San, said he was told by the government that now was not the
time for a book on U Nu: It took about three months to put
together the information. Then it was submitted to the censor board.
They told me that even though the information was correct, the book
would have to be referred to the central censorship unit because the
situation is not right at the moment. They said it might take
one or two years for the central unit to review it. I assume that
means that it hasn’t been passed.
Than Win Hlaing said that if he was not allowed to publish the book
in Burma then he would try to have it published outside the country.
He said it contained information on U Nu’s detention in Insein
prison after the 1962 coup led by general Ne Win.
More than 800 Hong Kong residents have called on
authorities to reclassify the Bible as "indecent" due to its sexual
and violent content, following an uproar over a sex column in a
university student journal.
A spokesperson for Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment
Licensing authority (TELA) said it had received 838 complaints about
The complaints follow the launch of an anonymous Web site,
said the holy book "made one tremble" given its sexual and violent
content, including rape and incest.
The Web site said the Bible's sexual content "far exceeds" that of a
recent sex column published in the Chinese University's "Student
Press" magazine, which had asked readers whether they'd ever
fantasised about incest or bestiality.
That column was later deemed "indecent" by the Obscene Articles
Tribunal, sparking a storm of debate about social morality and
freedom of speech.
If the Bible is similarly classified as "indecent" by authorities,
only those over 18 could buy the holy book and it would need to be
sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice.
TELA said it was still undecided on whether the Bible had violated
Hong Kong's obscene and indecent articles laws.
Hong Kong movies, long known for their stylish violence, are being geared
toward the expanding Chinese market and stricter censorship standards there,
and observers are worried that Hong Kong cinema is losing its edge.
Hong Kong-Chinese co-productions are now the norm. Top directors favor
ancient Chinese epics that appeal to a broader audience and are less likely
to offend Chinese censors wary of bloodshed or flesh-baring. Stories about
gang feuds and urban love stories are becoming rare, giving way to period
John Woo, who made the Hong Kong gangster classic A Better Tomorrow and
moved on to Hollywood fame, is about to start shooting Red Cliff, based on a
famous ancient Chinese battle.
Now the first thing Hong Kong investors will say is, you have to find a
mainland Chinese partner. Can this movie be released in mainland China? If
it can't, (they'll say) 'I'll have some concerns,' said Peter Tsi,
executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Ann Hui, a respected Hong Kong director, said she was careful about
portraying a Chinese policewoman in her Chinese-financed love story Goddess
of Mercy. The Chinese censorship system bans quite a few topics,
including sex, violence and the dark side of real life, she said.
Kelvikuri was completed in 17 days and went to the Censor Board. The
problems started then. On the premise that the film depicted the police
force in poor light, the Censor asked 2 police officers to see the film.
When they police officers said they were horrified at the depiction of the
police in the film, the Censor Board refused to give the clearance
What is so terrible in Kelvikuri for such strict action?
Simple! The hero's wife is taken by police for interrogation. There she dies
under mysterious circumstances and no satisfactory explanation is given. The
angry hero barges into the police commissioner's house and makes hostages of
the inmates. He then invites the police officers one by one and takes
revenge on them.
People under interrogation missing from police stations, committing suicide
by hanging, people dying under mysterious circumstances are all everyday
happenings in India. People protesting for justice against such actions of
police are also common.
ministry of culture has drafted a new Thai Film Act to be submitted to
national legislators in an effort to update the kingdom's currently
archaic censorship system.
It's now ready for the NLA (National Legislative Assembly),
senior ministry official Ladda Tangsuphachitold The Nation newspaper.
The major change is that it will introduce a film-rating system.
The Thai film industry has been petitioning governments for decades to
amend the current Thai Film Act that was promulgated in 1930.
Under existing legislation, Thai and foreign films are subject to
appraisals by a strict censorship board, dominated by senior police
officers, that have a reputation for cutting out all explicit sex scenes
and anything deemed offensive to the national religion, Buddhism, or
themes thought politically sensitive.
The industry has been lobbying to have the current censorship system
replaced by film ratings, such as 'R' for films restricted to adults.
The debate over film censorship became a news items last week when the
award-winning Thai film Saeng Sattawat (Syndromes and a
Century) missed its local debut in Thai theatres on Thursday because
Thailand's board of censors insisted on cutting several 'sensitive'
The Malaysian censors have warned pregnant women
and people with heart problems to avoid watching a new horror movie,
providing publicity that is helping it break local box office
Don't Look Back, which chronicles a man's probe into his
fiancee's mysterious death, is set to become the highest-grossing
local film ever, said producer David Teo.
A review by the Malay Mail newspaper called it the scariest local
movie ever made. The Malay-language movie also gained notoriety
because a stuntman fell to his death in an accident during shooting.
Don't Look Back received some unexpected publicity after the
government-run National Censorship Board insisted the movie's
posters and advertisements include a warning: Not suitable for
pregnant women and those with ailing hearts.
Children below 14 years old must be accompanied by adult guardians,
Teo said, adding that surveys indicate teenagers comprise about 40%
of the movie's 400,000 viewers so far.
Films contain lengthy scenes of scantily dressed or almost nude
couples in various acts of lovemaking have start ed to appear on TV.
As have some that portray violence.
A little inquiry made by this journalist revealed that this
phenomenon can be traced to the issuance of a directive
by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB)
which allows all television stations to air programs “containing
liberal dose of violence and sexual scenes” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The catch is that Memorandum Circular 03-07, signed by MTRCB
Chairperson Ma. Consoliza Laguardia on March 7, does not say what
liberal dose exactly means.
A board member of the MTRCB said the circular is defective because
films that are shown on TV have only two classifications—one for
general viewing (GV) and the other with parental guidance (PG).
Has the issuance of the circular given TV stations the license to
air whatever shows they want—including those that have (restricted)
rating? The more intrepid in the entertainment industry may
stretch the interpretation of the circular by assuming that even
graphic, hardcore porn is now allowed as long as it is aired within
the designated hours.
According to the MTRCB member, films
with R and For Adults Only ratings still could not be shown and this
should have been clearly specified in the circular.
In her circular, Laguardia merely stated that the rationale behind
the policy is to protect young viewers from the negative and harmful
effects of such programs and allow adult audiences to enjoy these
kinds of programs.
If the indiscriminate showing of sex and violence-oriented films is
happening without a howl of public protest, perhaps it is because
the usually-vigilant media is now pre-occupied with the election
campaign and thus has inadvertently overlooked the matter.
Virtual Sex Machine...
TV regulator considers this inappropriate to 8am
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that an April 16, 2006,
episode of MTV Live that was broadcast at 8 a.m. was
inappropriate for a morning time slot.
The offending episode, which included segments on a virtual sex
machine and an online role-playing sex game, led one viewer to file
a formal complaint with the CBSC.
It was the creepiest, most distasteful thing I've ever seen on
television! This was cable TV, Easter Monday at 8:30 a.m.!, the
viewer wrote. The viewer was particularly concerned about a segment
on a virtual sex machine, which he described as "indecent" and
The CBSC weighed in, ruling that the MTV Live episode
breached an industry code of ethics, holding that sexually explicit
content should not air before the industry-established watershed
hour of 9 p.m.
The CBSC referees said TV programming is considered adult fare in
Canada if it contains explicit "dialogue, discussion or
descriptions" of sex.
The CBSC also said that MTV Canada failed to air viewer advisories
before airing the program.
said it would ban a documentary about the 17-year detention of a
former leftist activist because its "distorted and misleading"
portrayal of the events could undermine confidence in the
Zahari's 17 Years is a 49-minute interview with Said Zahari,
who was arrested in 1963 on suspicion of plotting violent acts and
detained without trial for 17 years. Said, 78, now lives in
The Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, which vets
all films before release, said in a statement that the film was an
attempt to clear Said of his involvement in activities against
Singapore: The Government will not allow people who had posed a
security threat to the country in the past, to exploit the use of
films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past
actions and detention by the Government. This could undermine public
confidence in the Government.
Filmmaker Martyn See, who was under investigation last year for a
documentary about an opposition leader, said he was surprised by the
ban. He said the film, produced at the end of 2005, had been
approved twice last year with a PG rating: I don't know what
changed. Maybe different people with different views watched it this
He said he had been ordered by the censorship board to surrender all
copies of the film by Wednesday afternoon.
maintains protectionist ban on Indian films
Pakistani Film Censor Board has said that it will not allow
unchecked access to Indian movies but permit only those films made
by Pakistani producers and directors with foreign technology.
The films, which are made abroad with foreign actors and
technicians, are not liable to be put under strict censor policies,
however, no stuff would be allowed which does not come in conformity
with our moral values, said Azfar Shafqat, chairman of the
Central Film Censor Board of Pakistan.
Shafqat admitted that local film industry was going through the
toughest crisis of its history but he believed it was because of the
poor quality of the Pakistani movies and nothing else: The
qualities of our films have declined to a huge extent, which is why
they are rejected by the masses. Even, a few films, which are good
in quality succeed in present circumstances, which shows that the
industry is on decline for its own weaknesses and nothing else
should be blamed for.
Shafqat said the number of Pakistani films had almost touched to
naught, which could improve if their quality was improved with joint
Nutter Baton Charge Repulsed...
Zealand censor declines to reconsider Lesbian Cops
Zealand censor, Bill Hastings, has declined an application to
reclassify Lesbian Cops.
nutters from the Society for the
Promotion of Community Standards had targeted
a sexually explicit video featuring actors "pretending to be police
officers" using police batons as "sex toys" (dildos).
dismissed the Society's concerns by arguing that There is no
evidence of reluctance, coercion or power imbalance in the
feature and there is very little in the video recording that
bears any resemblance to the events to which the applicant refers
[news stories about the alleged misuse of police batons by NZ police
in sex and group orgies involving former NZ police members].
The Classification Office's decision on video Lesbian Cops...
notes: The feature mostly has an easy and relaxed tone, except
the role-plays are simulating the stereotypical attitude of the
'tough cop'. The rather humorous role-play ... often puts the
police character in a position of dominance. The use of a
police baton as a dildo ('sex toy') is degrading too, as it presents
an object usually seen as an authoritative weapon, as a penetrative
sex toy... a variety of wooden and plastic dildos are used
throughout the sex scenes.
Singapore's media regulator said it is
looking to expand its jurisdiction from the traditional print and
broadcast sector to include the emergence of new media markets.
The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) said it was seeking
public feedback to its Media Market Conduct Code, which is under review
to better address competition issues that may arise under the new
It said the code was first implemented in 2003 to regulate the market
for print and broadcast media, mainly newspapers and television. But the
situation was more complex since the emergence of Internet broadband
services and the convergence of telecommunications and television
services, it said.
Ling Pek Ling, director for media policy at MDA said: With the
emergence of new media markets and the introduction of HDTV and IPTV
services, it is timely for us to look at how we can update our code to
meet the needs of the media industry.
A Chinese producer and director who screened an uncensored movie at the
Berlin Film Festival last month have so far escaped punishment.
The fate of the filmmakers behind Lost in Beijing has drawn
attention because two of their Chinese counterparts were banned from
making movies for five years after showing a film at the Cannes Film
Festival last year without government approval.
Producer Fang Li and director Li Yu went through a protracted censorship
process in China that saw them editing Lost in Beijing five times
before it was cleared to screen in Berlin.
Fang, however, ended up screening the uncensored version of the movie in
Berlin in mid-February, saying he didn't have time to finish
post-production and adding subtitles to the censored cut.
Fang said in a telephone interview Tuesday both he and director Li
haven't been punished by China's Film Bureau. He speculated it was
because the Chinese government doesn't want to draw attention to the
case: If they punish me ... everyone's going to hear about this. The
press is going cover this. It just makes them look bad.
Anyone who missed R21 films like Saw
III and Borat in the Singapore cinemas is unlikely to find
the DVDs at their neighbourhood video store anytime soon. And that's the
official word from the Media Development Authority (MDA).
The regulatory body in charge of film and video classification revealed
in a recent email interview with Today that it's taking "a phased
One of the major community concerns noted by Cassandra Tay, the MDA's
director of communications, was the issue of videos with explicit
content being accessed by the young. The MDA will consult all its
stakeholders, including the public, before taking the next course of
In other words: Hold your horses. Video classification started in 2004
allowing titles up to M18 to be imported for sale and rental. Two and a
half years into implementation, film buffs are still unable to get their
hands on R21 movies like Kill Bill Vol 1.
To date, according to Tay, there have been 16 breaches relating to
conditions of sale. These include the lack of signage indicating age
restrictions, not enforcing the age restrictions or inappropriate
display of publicity material for such restricted titles. This small
number of errant distributors, however, has not been enough to persuade
the MDA to hasten the speed of liberalisation.
We'll consider the possibility of allowing R21 titles in due course,
was all Tay would say, declining to disclose a time frame by which this
might take place.
A wave of online outrage has forced
Chinese censors into an unprecedented decision to allow eight banned
books to remain on the shelves for a while.
The books, which touch on long-taboo historical and social issues,
remained on sale yesterday, even in official bookstores despite an
official ban, with penalties and fines imposed on the publishing houses,
which have been told not to print more copies.
In an apparent attempt to quell public outrage officials chose to allow
existing stocks of the books to sell out.
Demand has been high. At the respected All Sages bookshop in Beijing,
Cang Sang, by Xiao Jian, which tells the tale of a man from the 1911
fall of the last emperor to the Great Leap Forward in 1958, sold out
Officials at the General Administration of Press and Publication,
effectively China’s office of censorship, were stunned when news of
their unannounced ban provoked a furious response from bloggers.
Publication on the internet of a second letter by the renowned author,
Zhang Yihe, will only add to the authorities’ woes. Zhang, who spent ten
years in jail during the Cultural Revolution, addressed her letter to
the current session of parliament, calling for an end to all forms of
censorship. She urged the National People’s Congress to look into the
prohibition of Performers’ Pasts, an apparently innocuous book on
the lives of Peking opera singers, along with the seven other
In a rare interview the reclusive Zhang told The Times: I am a
low-key person. But after my first, second and third books were banned
it was more than any person could endure. As a citizen I must stand up.
I don’t care if I succeed or fail. “ It is unbearable to be put on such
a list. They deny that the ban on my book is linked to my family
background. In fact, that’s the very reason.
Hu Fayun, who wrote This is how it goes@ SARS.com, a novel about
a woman who fell in love with the internet at the cost of her
relationship with a vice-mayor during the SARS outbreak, has few doubts
about the power of the internet: The traditional ‘no-talk’ style of
control by the Government has been broken by the internet. Different
voices can be found there, he said. Hu has never been notified of
the ban. But then, he said, many policies are implemented in China
without ever being announced.
China's chief censor is likely to lose
his job amid criticism over a ban on books that has highlighted the
country's strict media controls.
The South China Morning Post said Long Xinmin, director of the General
Administration of Press and Publication, would soon be demoted to a
deputy director of the Central Party Literature Research Centre.
One source told the paper it might be due to Long's handling of the
January ban of eight books examining sensitive events in China's recent
Chinese history, such as a book about long-dead Peking Opera stars
written by Zhang Yihe.
While banning of books, magazines and newspaper has long been common in
one-party China, the censorship office has come under intense
international and domestic criticism since Long took up his job 15
The South China Morning Post said Zhang applied to a Beijing court on
Wednesday to overturn the ban on her book on the high-pitched matters of
released in New Zealand after being given M ratings by Australian
censors are too violent and should probably have R16 ratings, says
the chief censor, Bill Hastings.
He said his office did not consider films rated G (general release),
PG (parental guidance recommended) or M (for mature audiences).
These were released using their Australian classifications, he told
Parliament's government administration committee.
It strikes me - we have not done a study on it - at the M level
we are seeing more violence from Australia than we would allow at
the New Zealand level - it's almost R16 level.
Any change to the way these films were rated would require a change
to the legislation, he said.
List MP Dover Samuels said: Going through this classification
process is really window dressing. The whole issue of censorship has
become ineffective when you see the material that is now available.
Hastings agreed that tackling objectionable material on the internet
was difficult, and said one of the office's primary roles was
educating parents, schools and people responsible for renting
videos, DVDs and computer games of their obligations to keep
restricted material from young people: You can't be there at the
end of every phone line, in every bedroom in the nation."
The office was trying to arm parents with the right information,
making them aware that much of this material was damaging -
getting them to realise when we give a game an R18 rating, it means
exactly the same as when we make a film R18.
Samuels asked if banning something or rating it 18 simply made it
more attractive to people who would make an extra effort to get hold
Hastings said there was a small group who would always want the
unobtainable, but the office had to balance that with the need to
give the public information that would help people make informed
He said a survey done by the office had shown that more than 90% of
parents did find the classifications useful when choosing films and
games for their children.
Velu Prabhakaran is not apologetic about his film Kadhal Arangam
having run into problems with the Indian Censor Board.
Rejecting criticism of too much of exposure by the heroine,
Shirly Das, Prabhakaran says the story itself is about how society
views a woman's body. I have approached the Central Board of Film
Certification, which has refused a certificate for the film. Both
the examining and the revising committee were apparently not able to
see the true message of my film. I do not know why...
message of the film is to spread sex education: My film conveys
this in a unique manner.
The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is
concerned over a series of actions by Malaysian authorities against
the broadcast and print media and cyberspace, which point to
increasing intolerance for free expression and differing viewpoints.
The National Censorship Board recently banned the film I don't
want to sleep alone by award-winning filmmaker Tsai Ming Liang.
Among the reasons cited are that it portrayed the unsightly side of
the capital city Kuala Lumpur and affected the government's ongoing
Tsai, a Malaysian filmmaker based in Taiwan, was
informed of the ban via a 31 January 20007 letter from the board. He
is appealing the decision.
The board recently banned independent documentary Apa Khabar
Orang Kampung (Village People Radio Show). In a 26 February
appeal against the ban, filmmaker Amir Muhammad argued for a
"limited viewing" rating for his film, since it has been ruled
"inappropriate for general viewing", among others.
Elsewhere the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)
banned Sensasi, a Malay-language entertainment talkshow aired
by private broadcaster TV3.
Meanwhile, the ban on K. Arumugam's March 8,
a Tamil-language book about the 2001 racial clashes in a slum area
near the capital city, was only made known to the author through a
19 January news report which said the ban took effect in December
Arumugam's book is among the 56 publications banned by the Internal
Security Ministry in 2006, which includes the Indonesian translation
of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species by F. Susilohardo and
Basuki Hernowo. (The full list of banned books is available
Arumugam filed an application on 24 February at the Kuala Lumpur
High Court for a judicial review against the ban on his book which
chronicles the 15 days of racial clashes in Kampung Medan that
killed six people and injured more than 40.
Following a deputy minister's statement in December 2006 that
Internet laws may be introduced to control bloggers and prevent them
from spreading "disharmony, chaos, seditious material and lies", yet
another threat against cyberspace was issued recently.
In a change of heart, the National Film Censorship
Board has approved Tsai Ming-liang’s film, I Don’t Want to Sleep
Alone for limited screening.
Producer Leonard Tee said he received a letter from the board's
appeals committee. He said the film was passed for limited
screenings in art house cinemas in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor.
The committee also asked for five cuts to be made.
A source told The Star that the cuts included scenes showing the
bare buttocks of lead actor Lee Kang-sheng and local actor Norman
Atun washing his underwear. Other snips involved a kissing scene
between Lee and actress Chen Shiang-chyi, Norman helping to clean a
badly injured Lee who is clad only in his underwear and a radio
broadcast reporting open burning in Putrajaya.
Tsai said he was happy that the ban had been reversed. However, he
has not decided whether or not to accept the conditions: I think
I’ll be making another appeal. And I hope the committee will invite
me back so that we can sit down face-to-face and discuss things.
talked about television show in Turkey these days is one that's not
even on the air.
The wildly popular Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of the Wolves),
a series that chronicles life in Turkey's criminal underworld, was
set to return for a triumphant second season in early February after
a one-year hiatus. But, only one episode into its new run on the
private Show TV network, the series was unceremoniously yanked off
the airwaves, following a large number of complaints and pressure
from the government body that oversees Turkish television.
Kurtlar Vadisi has been accused of glorifying violence and
extreme nationalism. A spin-off movie, which saw the show's hero
going to Iraq and doing battle with the US military, is Turkey's
highest-grossing movie ever but was accused of being crassly
anti-American and anti-Semitic. The new season was supposed to deal
with the problem of Kurdish terrorism, but many feared that the
show's take on this volatile topic would only fan sectarian tensions
The cancellation of the hit show is raising a debate in Turkey about
whether limiting free speech in the name of curbing violence and
nationalism is censorship or simply good government, and whether the
show is a product of surging nationalism or a contributor to it.
Analysts say, though, that recent events, most notably the January
murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink by an extreme
nationalist 17-year-old, has made many realize that the nationalist
fervor whipped up by Kurtlar Vadisi may be pushing Turkey in
a dangerous direction.
[Canceling the series] was obviously censorship, but if an
industry decides to produce dangerous junk, then society has the
right to have some control over this, Irfan Erdogan, a professor
of communications at Gazi University in Ankara, says.
Chinese media authorities have marked out 20 forbidden areas in an
attempt to promote a “harmonious” atmosphere for upcoming national and
Restrictions have been placed on coverage of historical events including
the anti-rightist campaign under Mao Ze Dong, the Cultural Revolution
and more recent events such as the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, the
media freedom debate, and legal and rights protection campaigns.
The curbs were outlined by the State Administration of Radio, Film and
Television (SARFT) on January 12.
Naturally, there were other banned areas like judicial corruption,
activists' campaigns to protect individual rights, sexual crimes, and
the aristocratic lifestyle of high-income groups.
Finally, important state-sponsored construction plans cannot be
commented on and challenged with a western-oriented stance . . . and
private ownership cannot be affirmed.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia
Commission (MCMC) has banned entertainment programme Sensasi,
which is aired live on TV3, with immediate effect following a
controversial comment by a local artiste.
Rosnah Mat Aris was said to have uttered words that were deemed by
some as an insult to Prophet Muhammad’s wife.
In its investigations, MCMC found that the programme's live show on
Jan 30 had failed to abide by the approval conditions and that the
television station had failed to control inappropriate content.
With this, TV3 has been asked to stop the live broadcast of the
show with immediate effect, the commission said in a statement
MCMC corporate communications head Adelina Iskandar said the entire
Sensasi programme should have: contributed to the national
aspiration and not offend the sensitivity or values of the
The statement did not clearly state if Rosnah’s comments had
insulted Prophet Muhammad’s wife.
However, public reaction as reported by the media suggested that
what she said should not have been connected to the Prophet’s
In a programme last month, Rosnah when answering a question, had
linked a piece of gossip about her (Rosnah) with the age of Prophet
Muhammad’s first wife, Siti Khadijah.
Her short statement had caused a huge controversy. Viewers had also
sent in letters expressing their regret over her statement.
Malaysia's state censorship board has banned a
documentary film about former Malaysian communists now living in
southern Thailand, saying it was too sympathetic toward communism
and critical of the government, the movie's director said.
Amir Muhammad, a prominent Malaysian filmmaker, said in a posting on
his blog that he has until March 10 to appeal the board's decision
to ban Village People Radio Show, which was shown at the
Berlin Film Festival earlier this month.
Village People Radio Show is described as a portrait of
village life in southern Thailand, where retired Muslim members of
the Communist Party of Malaya now live.
The censorship board listed seven reasons for the ban, saying the
movie was unsuitable for public viewing because it portrayed the
communist struggle as a noble cause and criticized the Malaysian
government for unfairly treating former communists, Amir said.
Apa Khabar Orang Kampung, which carries the
English title Village People Radio Show was among the films
confirmed for the 20th Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF)
which runs from April 18 to 30.
The Indonesian island of Bali has banned a film
about the 2002 bombings that killed more than 200 people.
It is Indonesia's first film about the atrocity and received its
premiere in the capital Jakarta last month.
An official from the provincial film board said Long Road to
Heaven could reopen old wounds. I Gusti Ngurah Gde, head
of Bali's film board, said: We fear people who do not understand
it would trigger conflict and direct hatred at a certain group.
The movie looks at the tragedy from different points of view,
including those of a Balinese taxi driver who lost a relative in the
blast. Also portrayed are an American surfer searching for peace
after the 9/11 attacks and Muslim militants who were blamed for the
The Indian Central Board of Film Certification has
refused to grant a censor certificate to Miss Anara, the film
based on the real life MMS scandal in Jammu that rocked the country
two years ago.
According to censor board officials, the film, that was slated for a
2 March 2007 release, portrays excessive violence by police
officers. The film stars Anara Gupta (on whose life the film is
Producer-director K K Yadav affirms, There is nothing very
violent in the film. Miss Anara is based on reality. I feel
the censors have objected to the five lengthy scenes in the film
where Anara and her mother are tortured. I am prepared to do the
needful without disturbing the tempo of the film.
Miss Anara Released
27th June 2007
The film's goal was to show how a
confession was forced from me that I was on a pornographic CD,"
Gupta, who was Miss Jammu at the age of 15 in 2001
The film Miss Anara, made by minor Bollywood director Yogesh
Bhardwaj, was released nationwide Friday -- but not in Gupta's home
region Jammu, part of India's northermost Jammu and Kashmir state.
Activists from the Hindu Shiv Sena group, concerned about the effect
of the film on Jammu girls, threatened cinema owners with arson if
they screened it.
After three years of investigation and the examination of the CD in
forensic laboratories, police are yet to confirm whether the woman
in the film is Gupta.
I don't know why they are still doing the investigation, said
Gupta: I think they are dragging out the case to protect their
Book censorship is spreading in Egypt now that numerous self-appointed
authorities have received the absolute right to ban, sue or destroy a
book for so-called religious and security reasons.
Islamic institutions like the Azhar and state-run bodies such as the
Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Education have the right to review
books and withdraw them from the market.
Last week, a court banned foreign schools from teaching a book entitled
History of the World, which according to the Cairo-based Egyptian
Gazette, contained information considered blasphemous and humiliating
Another book was recently confiscated by the arts division in the
Interior Ministry for allegedly criticizing modern Islamic scholars and
questioning their eligibility.
On the one hand, books focusing on religious and political matters are
confiscated for broaching taboo subjects. On the other hand, religious
books that arguably "entice hatred" are sometimes left on book shelves.
In the event of censorship, people calling for a ban have only to
petition the office of the prosecution, and a case is almost immediately
upheld against both the author and the publisher if the book is deemed
"insulting to Islam" or to the ruling regime.
Nawal Saadawi, a well-known author and outspoken critic of the
government, had five books banned by her own publishers less than two
weeks ago. Saadawi's autobiography and another controversial play called
God Resigns in the Summit Meeting were among the books removed
Saadawi believes that the security police are behind the ban. Every
single copy of God Resigns in the Summit Meeting was shredded by
local publisher Madbouli, who did not even give Saadawi a copy of her
own book, and kept the manuscript.
Al Azhar, one of the leading religious
centres in the Muslim world, is threatening legal action against the
celebrated Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi.
At a meeting this week, the Islamic Research Council agreed to present a
petition against El Saadawi to the prosecutor general for her attacks on
God, the prophets and the heavenly religions, according to the
Egyptian newspaper Al Misry al Yom.
The head of Al Azhar, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi has condemned El
Saadawi’s play God Resigns at the Summit Meeting for allegedly offending
Islam. Five of El Saadawi’s books – including the play - were banned at
the Cairo bookfair in January. All copies of the play have been
Political groups want to threaten writers and freethinkers, El
Saadawi told Index on Censorship. It’s a backlash. The whole of
Egyptian society is going backwards.
Nawal El Saadawi told Index that she was summoned to the prosecutor
general’s office in January, with her daughter, the writer Mona Helmi,
following a case lodged against her in 2006 - also on the grounds that
she had insulted Islam.
El Saadawi believes that religious groups were particularly incensed by
interviews she had given to the Egyptian press, in which she said that
God was a spirit and therefore neither male nor female.
In the wake of the accusations, El Saadawi has decided to leave the
country for the next six months.
The Pakistan government has banned the portrayal of wicked
characters as heroes in motion pictures and refused permission to
release four new movies of this nature.
The central censor board has been ordered to decline permission to
films that glorify villainous characters, Culture Minister Dr G G Jamali
told the National Assembly.
He said that since Maula Jatt, made in the eighties, became a big
hit and did a roaring business, a trend developed among moviemakers
to go for such pictures.
Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain said many films were being made to
depict people as supermen who were being shown using Kalashnikovs,
repeaters, sten-guns and other weapons mercilessly. What kind of
education are we imparting to our youth? he asked.
He said violence and bloodshed exhibited in such movies are
brainwashing young men. You should try to discourage this trend.
Dr Jamal said the number of cinemas, which was 1,000 during
seventies, has now come down to 210 because of the crisis that has
hit the film industry.
He said a committee of film people has recommended that there is a
need for changes in the censor board. It has pointed out that the
society also did not like vulgarity.
Anti-smoking activists yesterday demanded thatThai
film censors explain why they banned the 2006 Golden Globe-nominated
satire Thank You For Smoking.
The film tells the story of tobacco-industry lobbyist Nick Naylor
who promotes smoking at a time when the health risks are too obvious
What a shame, Action on Smoking and Health Thailand
secretary-general Dr Prakit Vateesatokit said. He added that the
film was a wonderful tool in the campaign against smoking: The
movie depicts sophisticated tactics used by tobacco companies to
achieve what they want. This could have had an even bigger impact on
the pubic than campaigns I have been running for more than two
Thailand Health Promotion Institute chief Dr Hatai Chitanondh
believed censors rejected the film because the title included the
word "smoking". The title is a play on the common request posted in
public places and buildings: Thank you for not smoking.
I'm wondering if the censors even bothered to watch the movie
before rejecting it, Hatai asked, adding he deeply regretted the
film would not be seen for the same reasons given by Prakit.
However, it is now too late to reverse the decision because
distributors have returned copies of the film to the United States,
apparently reluctant for censors to lose face, Hatai asserted. He
watched it twice and insisted smoking is not observed in the film:
So, what's the matter? What harm can this movie do?
The range of films available to buy and rent at Irish outlets will be
extended significantly when Minister for Justice Michael McDowell,
introduces legislation providing revised censorship fees for
minority-interest DVD releases. Art-house movies will be the principal
beneficiaries of the new legislation, which is likely to be enacted this
Many foreign-language films have been passed over for release on the
Irish market because their distributors regarded the certification fees
as prohibitively high for movies with a limited audience.
The film censor, John Kelleher, has proposed a new two-tier scale for
certification, and the Irish Film Censor's Office (Ifco) annual report
for 2004 noted that it would be a positive development: Representations
were made to Ifco during 2004 in this regard by both Irish and foreign
video distributors requesting that a lower fee be
charged for certifying non-mainstream video titles that might otherwise
prove uneconomic to release. I believe this to be a reasonable request, and following further
discussions with industry representatives, a proposal has been sent to
the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for the Minister's
The new two-tier scale will follow the Minister's introduction of a
similar scheme for cinema releases in 2004, on the recommendation of the
film censor. In the past, it cost as much to certify an art-house film
as a mainstream one, Kelleher noted. Now, as a result of the new
scale, the cost of an art-house film is one-quarter the cost of a
mainstream one, and it is therefore financially feasible for
distributors to release such films now.
Eoghan Burke, head of sales at Sony BMG, which
represents a number of art-house DVD distributors in Ireland said:
2004 a new cost structure for the certification of DVD/video was
introduced and since then virtually all new art-house and
niche titles available to buy in Irish retailers have dried up, bar the
more commercially viable, forcing Irish buyers onto the internet to
source their art house titles. There are now thousands of titles that
have never been released for the Irish market.
Among the many art-house classics he cites as being passed over for the
Irish market because of the cost of certification are Bicycle Thieves,
Rififi, The Sorrow and the Pity and Rome Open City.
It would surely be interesting to hear a little more
about the High Court case mentioned.
Anthony who wrote to the Irish
censor, John Kelleher
As you are no doubt aware there
has been a considerable change in the content "allowed" on DVDs &
videos classified R18 (Restricted 18) in the United Kingdom in
What (in your opinion or IFCO practice) is the legal status of these
DVDs & videos in the Republic of Ireland?
Have there been any successful prosecutions of this material either
through postal/customs or seizure by gardaí? [Note I mean in recent
Are there any plans to formally legalise this content as in the UK ?
The British category is not an "Anything Goes" category with 15.4%
 to 24.1%  of submitted items being ultimately cut by
the BBFC. These "cuts" removed in one case [Pirates] 1 hour
34 minutes so they're not token either.
I feel the ongoing "grey area" unresolved nature of this issue means
the State has less not more control and influence of what is seen
Also there is a continuing debate internally at Ofcom over whether
the current ban on R18s being shown on Sky Digital's "Adult"
channels should continue. If this were to change it would make the
current situation in the Republic of Ireland even more farcical.
Your thoughts on these issues would be appreciated.
John Kelleher replied
I am reluctant to comment on the
matters you have raised as, inter alia, they are the subject of
ongoing High Court proceedings to which my Office is a party.
I am sure you will appreciate my position in this regard.
A question to the Irish censor regarding
Anthony who wrote to the Irish
censor, John Kelleher
I noticed that only one of the
censors employed at IFCO (Mark Brennan), was what one could
reasonably describe as a "young man" (albeit married with a child -
not single). Given that surveys of public opinion have consistently
shown "single young men" to be least in favour of censorship of
films & videos, and that "older women" are most in favour; I would
suggest the collective censors are unfairly unrepresentative of the
public in their make-up and indeed the cinema going & video/dvd
viewing public's general age.
The Irish Republic is still a very
young (relative to our European counterparts) population - but you
wouldn't guess that from the censors' make-up. I would like to see a
man in his twenties, mid twenties, and early thirties added
(replacing existing members) to the collective.
Finally regarding DVD releases - What real power does IFCO have to
"reverse" UK BBFC decisions to cut a given title? Have any DVDs
which have been cut in the UK been released in the Irish market
uncut? Or is this something which is unfeasible / too much trouble
for the distributors?
John Kelleher replied
Three out of our ten Assistant
Censors are in their twenties. I am very satisfied that our team,
the majority of whom are parents, includes a representative
cross-section of people, both in terms of age and experience.
Our experience would not tally with the surveys of public opinion to
which you refer, and I would be interested to know when, where and
by whom they were carried out . We have commissioned a considerable
body of independent research to assess public perception of our role
and work, which has elicited favourable results from both adults and
As regards DVD releases, IFCO classifies what is submitted to us for
release in Ireland. Our process, which is a statutory one, is not
relevant to what happens in another jurisdiction.
Anthony who wrote to the Irish
I was surfing the net and came
across the Irish Film Censor's website. After reading it for a while
I sent emails to John Keller as posted above.
I simply asked the Censor to put on record his and / or (by
extension) the Irish State's official attitude to / policy on /
legality of, R18 material.
Even with an ongoing case they surely have a position on this, and a
general statement wouldn't prejudice / undermine their prosecution.
I would like the Irish Times to try and get the Censor (on record)
to answer all the questions I put to him in my e-mail.
Hopefully he'll take your newspaper a bit more seriously than Joe
Here in the Republic, our previous Censor Sheamus Smith amused
himself by banning a selection of softcore standard 18 rated videos
every month. He'd send a list of prohibited videos every month to
all licensed video shops in the country - note these videos were
merely standard 18 rated ones, containing no actual depictions of
sex whatsoever and mild enough nudity too. The UK R18 videos (even
the pre-change in guidelines ones) were completely beyond the pale.
Until the (Irish) Video Recordings
Act of 1993, British BBFC ratings were in practice accepted as if
they had legal status here. Video Shops like Xtravision referred to
them in their sign-up terms & conditions, one wonders what would
have happened if say, a 16 year old was prevented from renting a
video marked by the British Censor as 18 by a shop over here and
took the shop to court on the basis it had no legal right to do so.
. . When the Irish act was being proposed Smith wanted to go back in
time and "re-certify" all the existing videos in circulation in
Ireland, as had been done in the UK in 1984-1986. However on cost
grounds this didn't happen and instead only "new" videos ie. ones
released after Sept 1993 were made subject to the Irish
certification process. Videos being re-released on DVD has mostly
taken care of this anomaly. It does show the ambition, some would
say megalomania of Smith though in attempting to try to certify 20
to 30 thousand different videos !
The problem with having a separate Irish (DVD & Video) Rating System
as opposed to the Cinema Certificates process is as follows. The
mass production processes involved in making DVDs, and the fact that
the Republic of Ireland and the UK share a single language, and TV
picture system (PAL) and also that the licensing rights for the
R.o.I. & UK are (usually) sold together as well - all of this means
there is in commercial terms a British Isles market. DVDs are
pressed (by companies located in the UK) according to the master
approved by the BBFC not the Irish Censor. The Irish Censor can
never "undo" in the Irish market cuts imposed in the UK. All he can
do is stick a different age rating (either up or down - mostly
anecdotally it seems to be upwards) on the box.
If a video is banned in the UK and
the distributor has (perhaps not expecting a ban) already gone to
manufacture, then he might release copies here after getting an
Irish certificate. The only example of this I've been able to find
is a film called "Mikey", directed by Dennis Dimster, made in 1992
and denied a BBFC cert in Dec. 1996. The Melonfarmers site states
that it is "available on Irish video with the boast that it is
banned in the UK".
With the physically cuttable
nature of 35mm cinema film prints, cuts can be restored or indeed
extra ones made changing what the BBFC did. With DVD the Irish
censor can only ban - not cut or restore cuts! Surely the whole
point of having a separate censorship system to the UK is to be able
to have different outcomes in practice not just in legal theory.
Perhaps the British-Irish Council (part of the Belfast / St. Andrews
Agreement) which involves democratic representatives of all of the
British Isles (which is the commercial reality when it comes to DVD)
should take over the classification system. The Irish government
would appoint so many censors, Scotland, the Isle of Man, etc. etc.
would do likewise thus retaining democratic rights. I put some of
these points to the censor in a separate e-mail, along with my
concerns about the composition of the assistant censors. All of the
e-mails and replies follow here.
Producers and sales agents representing Chinese film Lost in Beijing
are prepared to risk the wrath of the censors and will show the film in
its uncut version at Berlin's European Film Market. A spokesman said:
Films Distribution, in agreement with Li Yu and the producer Fang Li
have decided that it will screen the integral, uncensored version on the
market screenings regardless of the censors' decisions,
China's Film Bureau has already told the filmmakers that the film should
not compete in the Berlinale's main competition, as it has not been
approved by its censors. The censor objected to sex scenes and
questioned certain moral values depicted and asked for 15 extensive cuts
including a storyline about the relationship between a massage parlour
boss and his employee and scenes showing dirty streets, prostitution,
gambling, the Chinese flag and Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
As the market screenings are for buyers and not open to the public, the
filmmakers could technically argue they have not contravened the Film
The film makers said it still hopes to reach agreement with the Film
Bureau for a public screening of a version with different cuts before
its Feb. 15 competition slot: But we still don't know which version
will be discovered by the Berlinale audience.
The government requires that all Chinese-made films receive full
approval before traveling to foreign festivals. Filmmakers who skirt the
regulations risk penalties that include being banned from working.
An uncensored version of one of China's entries in this year's Berlin
Film Festival is to be shown at the Berlinale without the cuts that had
been demanded by the authorities, festival officials said Thursday.
A Berlinale spokeswoman said that, because of technical and logistic
reasons, it was not possible to screen the altered version of Lost in
Beijing from 34-year-old Chinese director Li Yu.
The festival spokeswoman went on to say that the Berlinale was not
expecting any incidents at Friday's showing of Lost in Beijing, which
was one of two films from China entered in the festival's main
The censors in Beijing have been very sensitive to films portraying
contemporary life or movies that in some way touch on politically
charged issues such as Tiananmen Square where the Chinese authorities
launched a major crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.
We cut all the scenes of Tiananmen Square, the national flag, and we
also cut scenes of dirty streets,Lost in Beijing producer,
Fang Li, said.
Chinese press authorities have banned
eight books by renowned writers and intellectuals in a new move to
control dissent and stifle discussion of sensitive historical
The General Administration of Press and Publications (Gapp) deputy
director Wu Shulin told propaganda and publication officials at a
meeting last week that the eight books were banned and vowed to impose
severe punishment on their publishers.
All eight books are reflections by intellectuals on historical and
social events of the past six decades, events that have traditionally
been subject to tight censorship.
Another administration source said Gapp came up with the ban after the
Central Propaganda Department included the books on its 2006 list of
publications that overstepped the line.
Cang Sang by Xiao Jian tells the story of a man in northern Shaanxi
from the 1911 Revolution to the Great Leap Forward.
I Object: The Road to Politics by a People's Congress Member by
journalist Zhu Ling tells of the 12-year struggle of activist Yao Lifa
to run for a seat in the local legislature.
Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars by Zhang Yihe is an account of the
lives and deaths of seven Peking Opera artists.
The Family History of an Ordinary Chinese by Guo Ya describes the
experiences of a normal Chinese family during the war of liberation, the
Cultural Revolution and other eras
The Other Stories of History: My Days at the Supplement Division of
the People's Daily by Yuan Ying is a memoir of time working for the
Era of History edited by Kuang Chen is a historic series on major
events from the 1950s to the 1980s.
This is How it Goes@sars.com by Hu Fayun tells the story of a woman
who fell in love with the internet at the cost of her relationship with
a vice-mayor during the Sars outbreak.
The Press by Zhu Huaxiang uses fictional characters to tell of the
intrigues and behind-the-news stories of China's media industry.
The Chinese author of a book about
long-dead Peking Opera stars has become the latest challenger to the
ruling Communist Party's censors, daring them to explain their secretive
ways before the law.
Zhang Yihe's Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars and seven other
books were yanked from Chinese stores this month on the orders of
propaganda officials, according to Zhang and other authors.
She has now issued a denunciation of the ban and threatened to sue the
publishing authorities. It was you who treated me as a thought
criminal, who robbed me of my rights to expression and publication as a
citizen, Zhang wrote in the letter to a senior publishing official,
dated January 28 but made public by her on Friday: Banning my book
should be done through open, just and independent judicial procedures. I
will defend to the hilt my rights under the law.
Zhang's lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, told Reuters he was unsure how the author
would seek redress and whether they would sue.
The ban on Zhang's book has not been entirely effective though. Pirated
copies can be picked up on many streetside book stalls in Beijing.
Censor Board chief Sharmila Tagore has blamed police authorities after
Parzania, a film about communal violence in Gujarat in 2002,
could not be released in the state.
Tagore feels that that government had been too soft on those who
threatened to disrupt the screenings of Parzania. The police
have to provide security. They have to take responsibility. It is the
responsibility of the police to enforce law and order, she said.
The multiplex owners in Gujarat have refused to screen Los Angeles-based
Indian filmmaker Rahul Dholakia's film fearing vandalism from Hindu
The veteran actress also spoke at length about other issues like the
controversy over the release of Hollywood flick Da Vinci Code
last year and the ban on smoking in films. Tagore said Information and
Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi's action over Da Vinci
Code had made the Censor Board 'seem a little redundant'.
On Dasmunsi's decision to see Da Vinci Code before giving it a
green signal, she said it was an 'avoidable lack of communication' and
the minister did not even involve her in the screening he held for
Christian groups or in the decision he reached. Calling Dasmunsi a
'super censor', she said he should realise: that there is an
organisation like us under him that is doing the job and that is why we
Tagore said she was worried about the precedent that Dasmunsi had set.
Nepali film director Narayan Puri, who
was the first in Nepal's film industry to dare make a film on the Maoist
movement when the guerrillas were banned as terrorists and paid for the
defiance by having censors hack his film ruthlessly, has been revived by
the winds of change blowing in since then.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, whose name is being suggested for
the Nobel peace prize for signing a peace accord with the Maoists and
ending 10 years' of bloodshed, was also at the helm of the country in
2002 when Puri made his controversial film, Aago (Fire).
However, things were vastly different then. Though 'Aago' did not refer
to the Maoists by their name, it was seen as glorifying the guerrillas.
The censor board first ordered Puri to cut out nine scenes and then, sat
on the negatives for 11 months, preventing its release.
In 2005, when the Koirala government had given way to King Gyanendra's
regime, formed through a bloodless coup, Aago continued to suffer
at censors' hands. Along with nearly six other films, it was tacitly
banned from Nepal's theatres.
However, after the fall of King Gyanendra's government in April, Puri is
now re-making Aago, restoring the scenes deleted by the censors.
Aago refers to the kamaiya system, the old tradition of bonded
labour in Nepal that despite being abolished by the government on paper
flourishes in the homes of ministers and civil servants: In winter,
when Nepal celebrates the Maghe Samkranti festival, it is also the time
for rich people to buy slaves from markets, just like they buy cows and
goats. Such sales can be seen all over midwestern Nepal.
One of the deleted scenes in Aago shows revolutionaries going to
the villages and trying to motivate people to oppose such customs.
Another shows a teacher educating villagers so that they can understand
how they are exploited and what their rights are.
The censor board never returned the deleted scenes to me, says
Puri. When I asked to have them back, I was told they were lost. If
the negatives had been intact, I could have simply added them to the
film. But now, I have to shoot them again.
The shooting is nearly complete and the new Aago will be screened
Tonight, the actor Daniel Craig will be
the first Bond to walk up the red carpet in Beijing after Casino
Royale was finally allowed past the censor and into Chinese cinemas.
It is the first Bond film to pass the censor and be officially screened
Sony, the distributors, said that despite its theme – all gambling is
banned in mainland China – it had been accepted without a cut. What
we told them is, we are fighting a common enemy, terrorists, said Li
Chow, Sony's China head: That was well accepted.
The last Bond film, Die Another Day, was never likely to be
accepted, since it showed Bond enlisting the help of Chinese
intelligence to take on rogue officers in China's communist ally, North
The fact that it is set in a post-Cold War period helped, the Communist
Party's favourite way of defending itself against western critics is to
accuse them of "Cold War thinking". Nevertheless, Dame Judi Dench, who
plays "M", said that despite the company's claim of not having been
asked for cuts, she had to re-dub one line. Where in Britain, she says:
Christ, I miss the Cold War, in China, she says: God, I miss
the old times.
China's ruling Communist Party has banned
images and mention of pigs in television advertisements aired over the
lunar new year to avoid offending the country's Muslims.
We were told by the CCTV (China Central Television) censorship team
that the CCTV advertising department announced a new regulation on pigs
in its internal document, an executive at the Shanghai-based
Mindshare advertising agency told DPA.
The ban also applies to cartoons and traditional paper-cut images of
pigs, and to slogans such as golden pig brings you fortune and
wish you a happy pig year, the executive said.
The regulation only applies to advertisements. The Year of the Pig
begins on February 18.
There may be a more hypocritical
organization on the face of the planet than the Motion Picture
Association of America. It's just hard to think of what it might be.
The MPAA claims it represents the cherished family values of American
parents and their impressionable children. Yet it employs a movie
ratings system that approves horrific scenes of violence while censoring
acts of love.
The MPAA insists it is fair and reasonable. Yet it judges independent
films more harshly than studio ones, and it views gay sex more sternly
than straight sex.
The MPAA boasts of being open and accountable, yet it operates like a
star chamber with secret censors and arbitrary rulings.
The MPAA says its ratings have no impact whatsoever on box office
receipts. Yet it knows full well that its punitive NC-17 rating kills
movies, because many American newspapers and broadcast outlets won't
carry ads for these films and many exhibitors and retailers won't give
them screen time or shelf space.
And Canadians aren't immune to its outrageous ratings, even though our
provinces have their own film review boards. American movies cross the
border pre-censored by the MPAA, since there is no financial incentive
to edit a film just for the Canadian audience.
These facts were already known before last year's Sundance premiere of
documentarian Kirby Dick's MPAA expose, This Film Is Not Yet Rated.
It was a situation akin to what Mark Twain once said about the weather:
everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.
Dick actually did do something and the result is a movie that is at once
eye-opening and hilarious. He talked to the usual suspects, outraged
filmmakers like John Waters, Kevin Smith and Canada's Atom Egoyan and
Mary Harron, who have all felt the MPAA's lash.
According to MPAA logic, it's okay to show people getting shot, brutally
killed or mutilated if you want a family friendly rating. But to show
sex, even to talk about it in some circumstances, will get you hobbled
with a rating of "NC-17" (no one 17 and under admitted). NC-17 is the
most feared of ratings, since it amounts to a blacklisting.
Violence is fine; sex isn't. That's what America believes, says
John Waters (Pink Flamingos), who succinctly describes the dubious MPAA
There's no question, however, that the film has already made an impact,
although it took a year to do so. The MPAA announced this week it is
making its operations more transparent, although Dick says the changes
don't really amount to much. And the biggest problem of all remains: the
NC-17 rating is completely unjust and unworkable, yet the MPAA refuses
to delete or change it.
Most telling of all is the rating that This Film Is Not Yet Rated
has finally received from the MPAA. You guessed it: NC-17, meted out
because it contains "some graphic sexual content." Not to mention
graphic mocking of the MPAA.
Here in Ontario, where our own censors rightly judge violence much more
harshly than sex, the film gets a reasonable rating of 14A, meaning
adult accompaniment for persons 14 and under. Ontarians know that many
people have died from guns, but nobody was ever hurt by the sight of a
The Information and Broadcast Ministry's decision to ban the cable
channel, AXN, has raised questions as to whether the government has
double standards on censorship and whether it should play censor.
The AXN ban resulted in sharp criticism for, Information & Broadcasting
Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi who had to defend the decision: There
is no big brother attitude. There are cable regulations that we follow.
A show cause notice was given and due process was followed before taking
AXN is high on the popularity charts, and is a leader when it comes to
English entertainment with 50%of the market share.
AXN is the sixth channel in the country to be banned.
One wonders whether this is the prelude to the Broadcasting Bill, which
it is believed will bring sweeping powers to the government.
Nudity, cigarettes, Paris Hilton and sexy adverts are just some of
things the Indian government has tried to hide from its citizens in the
last few months.
Critics say Indian sensibilities are made of sterner stuff, and warn
against the country becoming a "nanny state".
Dasmunsi must be told he can’t go
about treating us like impressionable children, the Indian Express
editorial said yesterday, referring to the broadcasting minister who
banned a channel for airing The World’s Sexiest Advertisements.
Last week, Dasmunsi ordered two local news channels to apologise for
airing footage of a man dressed as freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi
performing a pole dance, saying it was an assault to the dignity of
the Father of the Nation.
In November, undercover police in Mumbai were assigned to scan the
catwalks at fashion shows in an effort to prevent a repeat of last
year’s episode in which a model’s top slipped to reveal her breasts.
Censors banned Paris Hilton’s music video Stars Are Blind from
being shown on television in August, which shows the blond socialite
cavorting on a beach in revealing clothes.
The government last year also tried to ban smoking scenes in films,
reasoning that cigarette-wielding Bollywood stars were influencing
people to take up the habit.
The China's movie censor will not approve
The Departed for cinema release due to its mention of a Chinese
plan to buy military equipment. The regulators just cannot understand
why the movie wanted to involve China. They can talk about Iran or Iraq
or whatever, but there's no reason to get China in said a
source close to the film censor.
Martin Scorsese was named best film director at the Golden Globes on
Monday for The Departed, a crime thriller.
Pirated versions can already be bought on DVD off the street in China.
Maharashtra's State Transport Commissioner, Shyamsunder D Shinde feels
that the movies with fast scenes and rash driving will have a bad
influence on the youth has asked the Censor Board of India to delete
them from films such as the Dhoom series.
On the occasion of Road Safety Week, the minister was quoted as saying
that: Most young men try to imitate the stunts shown in these films.
But this only leads to accidents because they are not capable of
handling such powerful vehicles. That is why I have written a letter to
the Censor Board asking for such scenes to be deleted from movies.
Filmmakers too are lamenting such policies and say that if they cannot
smoke in films, shoot with trained animals or showcase stunts, then what
is the point in cinema.
Censor Board officials, however, say that they have not yet received any
notification for the same yet.
The blood and gore in Mel Gibson's latest epic, Apocalypto, are
suitable fare for children, Italy's cinema review board has ruled,
prompting a nutter group to say it would appeal the decision
The film is probably very beautiful and well done, Carlo Rienzi,
president of the Codacons consumer group, said in a statement. However,
minors must be protected more than the economic interests of film
Rienzi said the group would
seek court action to have children younger than 14 banned from seeing
Apocalypto depicts a Mayan kingdom during its decline and
includes slayings and human sacrifices.
It opened in the United States last month with an "R" rating, which
allows those younger than 18 to view it only if accompanied by an adult.
Most European countries that have rated the movie set minimum age limits
for viewers. Viewers in France must be at least 12, and in Hungary,
Germany, Poland and Britain, they must be 18.
Adriana Medici, secretary for the Italian review board that rated Apocalypto,
said the board, which usually is made up of parents, industry experts
and a psychologist, decided on to allow people of any age to see
It's a work of art. It's a beautiful movie that tells the story without
hiding anything. Wars are a part of life, said Gian Paolo Cugno, an
Italian director who was among the board members who voted in favor of
not giving the movie an age limit: We are used to being subjected to
images like the hanging of Saddam Hussein in all the newspapers. I don't see what the
scandal is just because we see a bit of blood.
Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli urged the film distributor in Italy,
Eagle, to ask cinemas to discourage unaccompanied minors from going to
see the movie.
A national outcry in Italy over the release of Apocalypto with an
unrestricted rating prompted a Rome court to rule Monday that Italian
kids under 14 will not be admitted to see the Mayan blood-and-guts saga.
Consumers association Codacons had taken legal action last week after
the Italian censorship board gave the Mel Gibson film the local
equivalent of a G rating, sparking a storm of protest and calls from
Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli for an overhaul of the country's
quirky ratings system.