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2012: Oct-Dec

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No Truth in the Materialisation of Corpus Christi...

BBFC reply to false rumours about a movie featuring a gay Christ

Link Here28th December 2012

Ongoing rumors about a film that portrays Jesus and his disciples as gay men has sparked a couple of complaints to the BBFC even though it doesn't exist.

Speculation has been rife that Terrence McNally's controversial play Corpus Christi has been turned into a movie.

BBFC senior examiner Craig Lapper insisted it was untrue:

I think it was a bit of an internet hoax several years ago suggesting a film was being made of the play in which Jesus and his disciples were portrayed as homosexuals, and I can remember replying to people concerned about this blasphemous film back in the late 1990s.

And this year again, for whatever reason, there was another spike in people writing to us to insist that we ban this terrible blasphemous film.

We just had to write back and say, "This film doesn't exist".

The BBFC received six complaints accusing the film of being blasphemous and offensive in 2011 and another two this year.

Perhaps this is something to with a new US thriller in production by Richard Kelly that carries the same title, Corpus Christi .



Comment: Talk about rape myths...

Unimpressed by the leading comments from moderators in the BBFC research

Link Here21st December 2012
Full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence

From the BBFC so-called research: A review of policy: Sexual and sadistic violence in films [pdf]

When participants first watched this clip [from 3D Sex & Zen], there was a lot of laughter and ridicule of the scene. When the moderator pointed out the potential damage of a scene of rape turning into consensual sex, some participants agreed that this could be harmful. This idea was thought to be particularly damaging to young males who may not have enough experience to put this into a sensible context. However, some participants did not think this would be harmful as 'no means no' is such a strong and universally recognised message and this film just seemed to be a role play rape scene.

Wonderful how the moderator plants the fantasy rape in films causes people to rape because they think the victim might enjoy it myth in the audiences' heads - presumably to stop them laughing - and then asks them a bunch of leading questions about what they should think about when watching this type of scene.

This is not unbiased research. This looks more like your typical witch hunt. You may not know there is a witch in your midst but we'll tell you how to spot her and then you can help us kill her.

The rest of the report is jam packed with snippets where the researchers asked leading questions after planting ideas - totally unproven, gutter-press, sensationalist, the film made me do it claptrap ideas - in the participant's heads.

To BE A QUALITATIVE REPORT as it is claimed, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS WERE ASKED so that WE MAY JUDGE THE QUALITY OF THE RESPONSES and thus the VALUE OF THE REPORT. Without such information this report is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS and TELLS US NOTHING save what the BBFC and the sensationalist press have LED PEOPLE TO BELIEVE. It is clear many of the participants believe the unsubstantiated, oft incorrect, misleading and bogus claims on the front pages of daily rags and, indeed, within the remarks, prompts (no less!) and leading questions of this so-called research .

One thing is certain: the public's opinions are not proof of potential harm but, only proof of real potential harm is what the law allows the BBFC to act upon.

People who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities....or just get you to agree with their worried nanny paranoid views about sexual and sadistic violence in films



Offsite Article: In-Depth Research of the BBFC Research...

Link Here20th December 2012
Full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence
The BBFC Are Using Flawed Research to Reaffirm Their Policies Regarding 'Potential Harm'

See article from



Offsite Article: Random Censorship...

Link Here19th December 2012
Earlier this year, 35 people decided which films it is and isn't okay for you to watch

See article from



Offsite Article: Thanking Tookey...

Link Here18th December 2012
Human Centipede II distributors Eureka thank Christopher Tookey and his cohorts at the Daily Mail for the wonderful publicity they gave to the franchise and the subsequent positive impact on sales.

See article from



Podcast 9: Sexual Violence and Imitable Techniques...

BBFC explains how the inexpert opinions of 35 lay people are used to decide whether a film is harmful or not

Link Here17th December 2012
Full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence

The BBFC have released the latest Podcast. Episode 9: Imitable Techniques.

There is the usual interesting current news section and a feature on the censorship of imitable techniques (kids hiding in tumble dryers, hotwiring cars, making light bulb bombs and martial arts weaponry).

There is also an illuminating interview with David Austin, Assistant Director, Policy & Public Affairs, speaking about the recent BBFC 'research' to survey the opinions of 35 ordinary film viewers.

He was a little unconvincing though. He starts off well, explaining very clearly that BBFC censorship for adults is based on removing content illegal by the laws of the land and content that is harmful. Notably Austin did not mention the concept of censoring material on the basis of public opinion.

He explained that a current basis for cutting sexual violence was research by psychologist Guy Cumberbatch, but this was now 10 years old. So the BBFC embarked on a 18 month project to update the guidelines, culminating in a survey of 35 lay people's opinions.

Austin did not explain how the opinion of a small group of inexpert people could possibly define what films are actually harmful. Nor did he offer the alternative that the BBFC now censor according to public opinion, rather than the aforementioned legality and harm.

Then he moved seamlessly into claiming that the surveyed views of 35 people were in fact 'public opinion'. I can't imagine that a statistical analysis of the 'research' would support that idea that a sample size of 35 people would have any statistical significance whatsoever.

Austin was asked the very important question about the practical effects of the new guidelines, especially as there is no practical indication whether the BBFC are 'tightening up' the guidelines or not. Just that the BBFC will take more factors into account, some supporting censorship, and some mitigating the need for censorship. In fact nearly all of the British media has reported a 'tightening up' of guidelines.

Austin was asked what recent decisions would have been made differently as a result of the changes. He answered by urging listeners to take note of the following table in the BBFC 'research' paper.

Film Title BBFC Classification Participant Classification
Wolf Creek 18 uncut 18 uncut
The Killer Inside Me 18 uncut 18 uncut or 18 with cuts
Martyrs 18 uncut 18 uncut
Antichrist 18 uncut 18 uncut
I Spit On Your Grave 18 after cuts Mixed ranging from 18 uncut to rejected
The Human Centipede II 18 after cuts 18 with cuts or rejected
A Serbian Film 18 after cuts 18 with cuts or rejected
Grotesque Rejected Mixed/mostly rejected
The Bunny Game Rejected Rejected

Presumably this is an indication that most films will be unaffected but that the highly controversial or sexually violent may be more strictly censored.

Perhaps we will get to see soon if someone decides to try and release the new Maniac remake.



Offsite: BBFC Credibility Takes a Knock...

Link Here13th December 2012
Full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence
British Censor Board Using Bad Research to Inflict Greater Restrictions on Movies

See article from



Offsite Comment: T'is The Season To Be Jolly... Angry!...

Link Here13th December 2012
Full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence
Speaking of extreme cinema, the BBFC, torture porn and of course the Daily Mail

See article from



BBFC to adjust sexual and sadistic violence policy...

Experts and researchers have provided little conclusive evidence of the harms of sexual violence in film. So the BBFC asked Tom, Dick, Harry and Sharon instead.

Link Here11th December 2012
Full story: BBFC on Sexual Violence...BBFC announces a change of policy on sexual violence

BBFC is to adjust sexual and sadistic violence policy to take into account key areas of public concern. Recent research has helped the BBFC to respond to concerns about depictions of rape, sexual assault and other sadistic violence in films and videos. 

Research carried out on behalf of the BBFC in 2002 and again in 2012 demonstrates that members of the film viewing public find unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence which, in their view, have the potential to cause harm.

Although the research reaffirms views that adults should be able to choose what they see, provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful. They are concerned about young men with little experience, and more vulnerable viewers, accessing sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women.

Film viewing members of the public support intervention at the adult category, by the BBFC, to remove certain depictions of violence on the grounds that they consider them to be potentially harmful.

The research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2012 highlights concerns about certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence to which the BBFC must respond. Much of the public believe that sexual and sadistic violence are legitimate areas for film makers to explore. But they are concerned by certain depictions which may be potentially harmful to some, including scenes which: 

  • make sexual or sadistic violence look appealing

  • reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy rape

  • invite viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.

Most of those involved in the research expect the BBFC to intervene to remove potential harm from such scenes. The BBFC may also intervene where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

"There is no 'one size fits all' rule for any theme under the BBFC classification guidelines, as long as what is depicted is within the law and does not pose a harm risk. Once again the public have told us that context, tone and impact, and a work's over all message, can aggravate a theme, or make it acceptable, even in cases of sexual and sadistic violence. The decision as to whether and how to intervene in scenes of sexual and sadistic violence is complex, but drawing out and applying these aggravating and mitigating factors is helpful in arriving at a decision which balances freedom of expression against public protection".


A. Introduction

Research carried out on behalf of the BBFC, most recently by Ipsos MORI in 2012, demonstrates that film viewing members of the public find unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence which, in their view, have the potential to cause harm.  This concern is particularly acute in relation to young men, without much life experience, and other vulnerable viewers accessing a diet of sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women.

Further, there is support for intervention, at the adult category, to remove certain depictions of violence on the grounds that many of the public consider them to be potentially harmful.

The BBFC's response to these concerns must strike a balance between, on the one hand, freedom of expression and the principle that adults should be free to choose what they see provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful, and the need to protect the vulnerable from material which may cause harm.

The response outlined below covers situations where the BBFC is considering cutting, or even rejecting, works aimed at adults and containing violence, in the absence of a specific legal prohibition on depiction of the activity.

When considering such intervention, the test the BBFC will apply is whether there is a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk of harm. Research in this area is contested.  There are difficulties both in carrying out such research and in translating findings from the laboratory to society.  However, the difficulty of establishing broad and replicated findings from such research does not mean that there are no harm risks.  The research literature, and reviews of it, often warn that certain works may pose certain risks for certain individuals in certain circumstances. 

What the public considers to be potentially harmful is also important. This is not simply because members of the public may have practical experience of harm risks in operation in society which cannot easily be addressed in the lab. Furthermore, the confidence of the public that the classification system will protect the vulnerable from material that has the potential to cause harm is itself an important indicator of whether the system is effective.

B. The response of the BBFC

This response covers both fictional and documentary (for example "extreme reality" works) which contain sexual and/or sadistic violence.

Intervention is likely in relation to any depiction of sexual or sadistic violence which is likely to pose a non trivial harm risk through, for example:

  • making sexual or sadistic violence look appealing

  • reinforcing the suggestion that victims enjoy rape

  • inviting viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.

Intervention may also be required in cases where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk. 

Material of this nature might also be considered obscene.  When considering intervention on the ground of obscenity, the BBFC will take account of the defence of public good and the significance of the overall nature and purpose of the work in establishing whether or not a work is likely to be found obscene.

The BBFC will also take into account the right to freedom of expression established under the Human Rights Act 1988.

The decision as to whether and how to intervene is complex and subject to a number of aggravating or mitigating indicators which need to be balanced out in order to arrive at a decision. 

These indicators are listed below. They are a guide to assist BBFC Examiners in making recommendations in relation to works which are on the edge of suitability for classification according to the BBFC's Classification Guidelines.

The indicators are not designed to be a tick list. No one indicator will of itself necessarily determine the classification of a work. Examiners will balance the indicators and use their judgement when deciding which course of action to recommend -- passing the work uncut; passing the work with cuts; or determining that the work is unsuitable for classification.  The presence of one or two aggravating indicators will not necessarily lead a work to be cut or even rejected, if the mitigating indicators outweigh them. Nevertheless, if Examiners recommend not intervening, they will highlight any aggravating indicators in their reports and justify why they do not lead to intervention.

Each factor listed below is expanded with possible examples of when the factor might come into play.


Does the depiction make sexual or sadistic violence seem normal, appealing, or arousing?

For example, the perpetrators are characters with whom the viewer might identify.  The scene is shot in a way which might invite the viewer to identify with the perpetrator(s).    Violence is glamorised in a way which could arouse the viewer.  The scene places an emphasis on the sexual pleasure of the perpetrator(s). The sequence offers a "how to" guide on how to perpetrate sexual or sadistic violence.  The sequence has the potential to raise concerns about the enactment of sexual fantasies, particularly among vulnerable viewers.

Is the depiction likely to appeal especially to impressionable or vulnerable viewers, including young men and gang members, with the result that it might influence their behaviour or attitudes in a way which may cause harm?

For example, there is a gang mentality at play which suggests that sadistic or sexual violence can be a bonding experience within a group.

Does the depiction perpetuate any suggestion that victims enjoy rape?

For example, the depiction suggests that women may become sexually aroused through being raped or that "no" means "yes".

Is the depiction of sexual or sadistic violence gratuitous, including in terms of excessive length and/or detail?

For example, the depiction is out of step with what is required by the narrative.  The work does not have much of a narrative.    Rape features a focus on eroticising detail, such as nudity.  The scene wallows in gratuitous violence. 

Are children involved in the sequence?  

Participants in the 2012 research felt that the rape of children, or the juxtaposition of images of children with sexual violence to be potentially more harmful than any other form of sexual violence.

Does the depiction amount to an unacceptable degradation of human dignity?

For example, the sequence features strong, including real life, abuse, torture, killing or other violence without significant contextual justification or other mitigating factors to the extent that it offers human suffering as entertainment in itself?  Might the sequence be considered significantly to erode viewer empathy? 


Does the work make it clear that the violence depicted is not condoned? 

For example, the perpetrators of sexual or sadistic violence are punished within a work's narrative.  The narrative is balanced.  (For example, it does not contain 80 minutes of graphic rape followed by two minutes of mild rebuke.)  The viewer is invited to identify with the victim(s). 

Does the work or scene lack credibility in a way which undermines its power?

For example, the work is dated and/or ridiculous.  The depiction of sexual or sadistic violence is comic and unlikely to be taken seriously.  The sequence is otherwise risible.  Low production values can add to the lack of credibility.

Is the scene discreetly shot?

For example, it leaves some detail to the imagination.  The scene only as long as the narrative requires it to be.  The treatment is in keeping with the narrative.

Is the scene narratively justified?

For example, it is based on a true story or carries a strong anti-rape message.  What the viewer sees is necessary to explain character motivation.  The work raises awareness of an issue of public concern in a responsible way. 

Where there is any nudity is it outside the context of rape?

Most participants in the 2012 research felt that merely combining violent images with nudity, even sexualised nudity, was not necessarily a problem in itself. These viewers drew a clear distinction between rape, where eroticising detail could be potentially harmful, and violence which is shot in a titillatory way.



Comment: Strange Things Are happening...

A good summary of the BBFC's risible 'research', unbelievably used to justify policy

Link Here11th December 2012

The BBFC recently carried out what they laughably call research into public attitudes towards depictions of rape, sexual and sadistic violence (so, no leading phrases there...). In this case, 35 people across London. Bristol and Dundee were asked to watched and comment on a number of recent controversial films that had either been passed uncut, cut or banned.

Let's think about that for a moment. 35 people in three cities -- two in the South of England and one in Scotland. No serious scientific researcher or public opinion market researcher would consider this to be anywhere near the number and variety required to use to gain any level of information about public attitudes. You'd probably get greater variety and numbers in a railway station bar.

...Read the full article



Comment: Mail Wail...

Of course the Daily Mail has a few gleeful words at the thought of films being censored

Link Here11th December 2012

The Daily Mail Spouts:

At last, censors crack down on sexually violent films that corrupt teenage boys' minds

Sexually violent horror films will finally face a crackdown by censors over fears they distort the way teenage boys view women.

The long overdue decision comes following research which found widespread public concern over the increasing number of sexually depraved and barbaric films being fed to British audiences.

The British Board of Film Classification has announced it will tighten guidelines over such films which will see more banned, or scenes cut from the content to protect vulnerable viewers.

Vivienne Pattison, director of campaign group Media Watch UK, said:

This decision has been long overdue.

Films have become increasingly more violent and the regulations have allowed that to happen.

This is what the public wants. People are saying enough is enough.'

I am not sure that the BBFC have quite said what the Daily Mail hope. All the BBFC have vaguely said is that a whole load factors will be taken into consideration.

...Read the full article

Grotesque legacy of censors who failed us

See  article from

The Daily Mail leader writers also enjoy the opportunity to go into overdrive:

Decades too late, the British Board of Film Classification announces a crackdown on sexually violent films, whose insidious spread it has done so much to encourage.

Ever since the 1960s, the BBFC has been in the vanguard of the permissive society, allowing increasingly graphic material to be seen by ever younger audiences.

Only now, after feeding an appetite for obscenity that has done untold social damage, do the censors acknowledge concerns that such films could normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women .

The irony is that this U-turn comes as the BBFC is all but powerless to stem the corrupting tide.

For in the age of the internet, every child or teenager with a smartphone or laptop has access to grotesque filth at the touch of a button or click of a mouse.

...Read the full article



Offsite Article: A Century of censorship...

Link Here7th December 2012
100 years of the BBFC by Kieran Turner-Dave

See article from



Updated: Going to the Pictures...

The BBFC update their website

Link Here29th November 2012

The BBFC has updated its website with a bolder and more colourful affair with lots more pictures.

There are new front page features providing a list of classification information for new cinema releases and for the latest DVD classifications.

Most, if not all data items are still available. A slight problem is that when a title search results in a long list of matches, these are presented in endless unordered subpages to click through, rather than a long list that previously was quick to scan through.

In terms of depth of data, the website is way ahead of any other similar site, and now it has better decorated with film posters and colour.

Update: BBFC Insight

The BBFC is pleased to announce the launch of its new website which brings together the main BBFC website, the BBFC website for parents (PBBFC) and the BBFC education website for students (SBBFC). With improved search functionality, the new look BBFC website places film content information at its core, making it easier for the public, parents in particular, to find detailed BBFCinsight information about any film rated by the BBFC.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC says:

We designed the new website to make it easier for parents to make informed decisions about the films their children see whether at the cinema, on DVD or via download. BBFCinsight is designed to be clear and unbiased, giving details about the age rating issues in a film, but also other details parents have told us they like to be aware of, such as examples of mild language, or even themes such as divorce or bereavement that may not impact on the age rating, but might upset some children. Parents can find a short summary of BBFCinsight on DVD boxes and cinema posters and more detailed BBFCinsight is published on the website and the BBFC iPhone and Android Apps.

All BBFC film age ratings come with BBFCinsight, which combines the BBFC's previous Consumer Advice and Extended Classification Information (ECI) under one memorable name. BBFCinsight begins with a summary sentence (like Consumer Advice) then goes straight into a longer explanation about the classification of the film and why it got the rating it did. The new BBFC website also allows users to watch trailers* for new films and sign up to receive regular BBFC newsletters.

John Carr, key adviser on internet safety to the UK Government and Executive Board member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) said:

BBFCinsight and the new BBFC website will prove incredibly useful to parents navigating the wealth of online film content available to them and their families. By providing detailed information about a films' rating before it's released, the BBFC is equipping parents with tools that are timely, intuitive and provide information at a glance, as well as a more in-depth explanation about what their children are going to see. Parents should not have to struggle to find out whether a film or DVD might upset their child or another family member and the BBFC is helping to ensure this is something all families can prevent.

Verity Gill, Founding Director of Grannynet said:

Here at Grannynet we are delighted with the new BBFCinsight tool which we feel adds an invaluable dimension to the already vital support that the BBFC offers to grandparents. Any way in which our members can feel more confident about what their grandchildren are watching will ensure the film selection process is easier and more enjoyable for everyone concerned.

Putting ratings information online

Independent research carried out for the BBFC in 2011 found that 85% of respondents said it is important to have consistent BBFC classifications available for Video-on-Demand content, rising to 90% amongst parents with children under 16. As well as providing detailed BBFCinsight for every film classified, the BBFC's service for streamed and downloaded content, which launched in collaboration with the home entertainment industry in 2008, also provides trusted classifications, category symbols and BBFCinsight to set-top box, video-on-demand and other online content providers. Key affiliates using the BBFC service include Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Europe, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, BT Vision, Tesco/Blinkbox, TalkTalk, Picturebox and Netflix.


The new BBFC website features all the BBFC's educational content, previously available on the Students' SBBFC website. This includes case studies about controversial films, competitions for kids and information about how to book BBFC educational visits. The BBFC has established a number of partnerships with the film industry and cinemas to increase its contact with parents and children. Dialogue with the public both online and through education seminars, is integral to the work of the BBFC and helps inform the issues raised at each review of the BBFC Classification Guidelines. As part of this education and outreach work, the BBFC visited around 130 schools, colleges and other institutions in 2011, speaking to around 12,000 students.



Offsite Article: BFI Uncut Season...

Link Here20th November 2012
Temple of Doom uncut review

See article from



Offsite Article: BFI Uncut Season: Maitresse Revisited...

Link Here19th November 2012
Yasmeen Khan examines Barbet Schroeder's once-controversial 1976 picture, restricted upon its initial release, which is given a Blu-ray upgrade and screened theatrically by the British Film Institute this month

See article from



Dead Sexy...

Forum discussion suggests that the BBFC gave the nod to Nekromantik being shown at a film festival

Link Here18th November 2012

Nekromantik is a 1987 West Germany horror by Jörg Buttgereit.
With Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski and Harald Lundt. IMDb

A German motorway cleaner takes rotting bodies home to a lover who has a necrophilia fetish. This involves the skinning of a rabbit, use of a metal pipe in conjunction with a condom, nudity, and graphic sexual scenes with dead bodies.

An interesting post by Frankie Teardrop cropped up on ;

Just had the privilege of watching NEKROMANTIK on the silver screen (in Leeds, at the tail end of the film festival). Jorg B was present for an affable Q&A... an enjoyable little evening (which seems a bizarre thing to say, given that twenty years ago you imagine cinemas being stormed by riot police for showing same).

Interestingly, one of the festival facilitators happened to mention during his introduction that they'd had to submit Nekromantik to the BBFC in order to get it shown legally, and were told that, in this day and age, it would pass uncut at 18.



Offsite Article: British film censor faces new challenges after 100 years of horror, killing and sex...

Link Here11th November 2012
After a century looking out for the nation's sensibilities and a new president taking charge, the BBFC has much to scrutinise, not least its own history

See article from



Behind the Scenes at the BBFC...

New book with contributions from many at the BBFC

Link Here7th November 2012

From promotional material:

Established by the film industry in 1912 as the nation's only official and independent classifier of the moving image, the British Board of Film Classification (originally the British Board of Film Censors) has long been a source of fascination -- and sometimes a bone of contention -- for filmgoers, filmmakers and industry figures. This new book, published in the BBFC's centenary year, addresses Britain's film classification history, and marks an unparalleled collaboration between the Board and leading film critics, historians and cultural commentators.

These writers, given unprecedented access to the BBFC's archives, chart the organisation's history alongside the cultural, social and political forces that have helped shape it. Together they explore shifting public attitudes towards cinema's portrayal of sex and drugs, horror and violence; the different perspectives of the Board's successive leaders; the impact of controversial decisions, and the ever-changing nature of moving image distribution and exhibition.

The book also features unique case studies, written by BBFC staff, focusing on significant films that have provoked debate and controversy both within the BBFC and more widely - Battleship Potemkin, The Snake Pit, A Clockwork Orange, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and many more.

Behind the Scenes at the BBFC: Film Classification from the Silver Screen to the Digital Age is an entertaining and invaluable insight into shifts in public attitudes over the last century, and how film classification shapes what we see on screen.

Editor: EDWARD LAMBERTI is Information Services Manager at the BBFC.



Passed 18 for the Fetish of Back Patting...

Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey praises the BBFC and the home entertainment industry for their work to provide online film classifications

Link Here2nd November 2012

Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey, today opened the BBFC's international film classifiers conference in London. He praised the BBFC for their work with the home entertainment industry to bring well understood and trusted BBFC age ratings and content advice to films streamed online. During his opening speech, he said:

The Film Policy Review -- which reported to Government this year, under the leadership of Lord Smith -- recommended that we should aim to connect the widest possible range of audiences with the broadest and richest range of films from around the world. However, in the digital world this means that information provided to consumers about and through classification is becoming even more important, enabling people to use technology to select the content that is right for them.

In independent research carried out for the BBFC last year, 85% of respondents said it was important to have consistent BBFC classifications available for VOD content, rising to 90% of parents of children under 16. I therefore welcome the innovative work being done since 2008 by the BBFC in partnership with the home entertainment industry to bring well understood and trusted BBFC age ratings and content advice into the online space. I saw in action for myself in 2011 the BBFC's then newly launched Watch and Rate service for classifying online content. It's a great example of self regulation -- a quick and effective service which gives parents the reassurance of a trusted age rating for films and videos being distributed online, without creating a disproportionate burden on content providers and platforms.

I'm pleased that one of those platforms -- BT Vision -- will be here tomorrow to brief you on its experience in using BBFC age ratings for its Video on Demand offering. BT Vision and platforms such as Talk Talk, Netflix and Tesco's Blinkbox deserve credit for putting parental empowerment and child safety first by working so closely with the BBFC in this area. I look forward to other platforms -- several of which are in discussions with the BBFC -- to do likewise.

Tomorrow BT Vision, one of 38 home entertainment platforms and film studios using the BBFC's service for online film content will discuss their use of BBFC digital services at the international conference, which is attended by classifiers from 17 countries across the globe.

The BBFC's service for streamed and downloaded content was launched in collaboration with the home entertainment industry in 2008. The service provides trusted classifications, category symbols and Consumer Advice to set-top box, video-on-demand and other online content providers. Key affiliates using the BBFC service include Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Europe, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, BT Vision, Tesco/Blinkbox, TalkTalk, Picturebox and Netflix.



Extract: From 50 Years of James Bond Archives...

BBFC publish a letter detailing 30 issues with the Thunderball shooting script

Link Here28th October 2012

In April 1965 Eon Productions sent a shooting script of Thunderball to the BBFC for advice on how the finished film might be considered for classification. The letter published here [pdf] details the BBFC’s lengthy response to the script. Mindful that an X certificate would not be consistent with the previous three Bond films, the letter specifies over thirty aspects of the script that could be problematic for an A certificate.

John Trevelyan sums up the general concern of the BBFC when he explains:

I get the impression that this screenplay has been deliberately hotted up with a view to its including more sex, sadism and violence than the previous Bond pictures, and… it seems less light-hearted in tone.

In the end only one cut was required – the sight of Bond stroking the back of a partially nude girl with a mink glove.



The BBFC Downloads a New President...

Patrick Swaffer is appointed as President of the BBFC

Link Here18th October 2012

The BBFC is pleased to announce the appointment of Patrick Swaffer as President. The appointment takes effect immediately. He succeeds Sir Quentin Thomas CB who stepped down after ten years.

Patrick Swaffer is a former Senior and Managing Partner of Goodman Derrick solicitors. He currently is a Consultant to that firm, sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court and is a partner in Media Compliance Services LLP. He knows the BBFC well having been its legal adviser for many years, a role which he will now relinquish. He said:

I am delighted to have been appointed President of the BBFC in their centenary year -- a remarkable achievement of longevity reflecting the continuing public desire for the prior classification of films and DVDs.

The BBFC is an independent and self-financing body acting solely in the public interest. The classification of films and DVDs and the provision of additional consumer advice allow members of the public, particularly parents, to make informed viewing choices. Where necessary the BBFC steps in to protect the public, particularly children, from content that might cause them harm.

The classification guidelines published by the BBFC, and its consistent and clear approach to classification issues, have ensured that it continues to enjoy the trust of the public, the local authorities and the film industry. The BBFC's well known and widely recognised classification symbols are now not only seen at the cinema and on DVDs but also on many websites where films may be viewed or downloaded. The BBFC encourages this responsible approach and is working with online content providers to offer a range of services to meet the public demand for classification and full information. Some 90% of parents wish to see the BBFC's symbols on film downloads.

The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, will lay an order before both Houses of Parliament proposing to designate Patrick under the Video Recordings Act 1984 as the authority responsible for making arrangements for the classification of videos.



Update: Uncut Film Season...

BBFC celebrating 100 years of film censorship at BFI Southbank, including a showing of the Director's Cut of The Devils

Link Here13th October 2012

Uncut Film Season
BFI, Southbank
1st to 30th November 2012

To mark the centenary of the BBFC in 2012, BFI Southbank is presenting a season of films which have been either banned or censored in the last century of cinema.

The season has been curated by film critic Mark Kermode and Professor in Film Studies at Southampton University Linda Ruth Williams.

The season will give film fans a chance to see some of the most contentious films ever made in their complete version on the big screen and will aim to illustrate how the BBFC's attitudes to confrontational material have changed over the years. While some films in the season have remained as shocking as the first time they were seen by UK audiences, the impact of some has lessened with time.

Each of the films in the season will present a case-study in the BBFC's negotiation of UK law, public opinion, political pressure, and principles of public protection and free speech.

The films being shown are:

  • Pink Flamingos
  • Crash
  • Enter the Dragon
  • The Evil Dead
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
  • The Devils (Director’s Cut)
  • Maitresse
  • Shock Corridor
  • Timeshift: Dear Censor... The secret archive of the British Board of Film Classification
  • No Orchids for Miss Blandish
  • Cape Fear
  • Island of Lost Souls
  • Blackboard Jungle
  • Irreversible
  • This Is England
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
  • The Killer Inside Me
  • Trash
  • The Killing of Sister George

Update: More background to the Uncut! season

13th October 2012. See  new release from


Audiences will be able to engage in discussions on censorship during special events in the season, beginning with What the Silent Censor Saw -- 100 Years of the BBFC. This illustrated talk by Bryony Dixon (BFI) and Lucy Brett (BBFC) will explore the earliest days of the BBFC as it wrestled with such controversial issues as sex, drugs, birth control, animal cruelty and the modus operandi of criminals in film. Season curator Mark Kermode will be joined on the Southbank Stage by David Cooke (BBFC), Dr Julian Petley (Brunel University) and Dr Clarissa Smith (University of Sunderland) for Screens as Battle Grounds: Debating the BBFC and Media Regulation Today. This panel of expert will examine the BBFC's colourful past, debate its role today and suggest its possible future evolution. Finally Timeshift: Dear Censor... The secret archive of the British Board of Film Classification is a frank documentary that charts the BBFC's history through examination of some of its most infamous cases. Following the screening there will be a Q&A with David Cooke, Lucy Brett and Craig Lapper from the BBFC moderated by Dr Julian Petley.


A subject which has continued to prove divisive in the popular press is the cinematic portrayal of sexual violence, however, the BBFC has not always followed the political and press consensus in their reaction to these kinds of films. In the wake of sensationalist stories and comments from ill-informed politicians, the BBFC was duty bound to investigate claims that Crash (Dir. David Cronenberg, 1996) was obscene. Despite being cleared by the Board this extraordinary tale of alienation and sexual sub-cultures was still banned by Westminster Council. Gaspar Noe's harrowing Irreversible (2002) was reviled in some circles for having a rape scene which was almost unwatchable, but the BBFC decided to pass the film uncut because they concluded that the scene was deliberately repugnant and avoided eroticisation. Similarly, Michael Winterbottoms's adaptation of the Jim Thompson pulp noir novel The Killer Inside Me (2010) was passed uncut when the BBFC deemed that the portrayals of sadistic violence and sadomasochistic behaviour were not eroticised and did not endorse the kind of violence being seen on screen.


Sexual imagery is something that the BBFC has dealt with a great deal over the past century. The Board's attitude towards images of a sexual nature has certainly adapted over the years: for instance No Orchids for Miss Blandish (Dir. St John L Clowes, 1948) was initially described by the Monthly Film Bulletin as 'the most sickening display of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on the screen' and banned by the Board, but it went on to be passed uncut with a PG on video in 2006. The Killing of Sister George (Dir. Robert Aldrich, 1968) provoked a similar reaction for a lesbian love scene, with a modified version eventually being approved by the Board. Also screening will be Sick -- The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (Dir. Kirby Dick, 1997), which documents the proud life of cystic fibrosis sufferer Bob Flanagan, who remained a staunch supporting of the liberating power of consensual S&M throughout his terminal illness. With scenes of transsexuals masturbating (Trash, Dir. Paul Morrissey, 1970), frank depictions of S&M (Maitresse, Dir. Barbet Schroeder, 1975), ingestion of dog faeces (Pink Flamingos, Dir. John Waters, 1972) and mass orgies (The Devils, Dir. Ken Russell, 1971), the 1970s proved a particularly busy time for the Board and the season will see screenings of all these controversial films in their entirety. In a time when Fifty Shades of Grey is the literature of choice for millions around the country, it is clear that the British public has had a change in attitudes to sexual imagery since the days of outcry over No Orchids for Miss Blandish.


The mainstream martial arts hit Enter the Dragon (Dir. Robert Clouse, 1973) fell foul of the BBFC's anxieties about violence upon its release in 1973. The censors effectively banned the appearance of flying stars and nunchucks from UK screens, arguing that -- unlike guns -- these weapons could be legally purchased in the UK. Another violent film which gave the Board some concerns was Cape Fear (Dir. J Lee Thompson, 1962). However, on this occasion the BBFC found itself in the unusual position of being vilified by the tabloids for being too stringent: '161 Cuts In One Film' declared a concerned and somewhat outraged centre-page spread in the Daily Express.


Based on The Island of Doctor Moreau by HG Wells, the notorious 30s horror film Island of Lost Souls (Dir. Erle C Kenton, 1932) tells the tale of an obsessed scientist who performs experiments on animals on a remote island. The film was banned outright when it was first submitted to the (then) British Board of Film Censors in 1933, and then rejected a further two times. Co-starring the legendary horror actor Bela Lugosi, Island of Lost Souls was eventually passed uncut with a PG in 2011. Another film which censors feared might be too frightening for audiences was Shock Corridor (Dir. Samuel Fuller, 1963). This tale of a sane man whose infiltration into a mental asylum drives him mad caused the BBFC to worry that its 'unjustified and alarmist' tone might frighten those with incarcerated relatives. Sam Raimi's now legendary first feature The Evil Dead (1981) starred cult hero Bruce Campbell as possessed chainsaw wielding Ash, and was one of the films at the centre of the so-called 'video nasties' witch-hunt. The Evil Dead was effectively outlawed on video for years in the wake of several successful prosecutions, and this screening presents the original uncut version in all its gory glory.


Providing a stark contrast to Raimi's horror are two films which could be viewed as more family friendly, the first of which is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Dir. Mark Herman, 2008). This film provided a difficulty for the BBFC in that it attempts to boldly address the Holocaust in manner that will be acceptable to younger audiences. Rated 12A, the film raises important questions about the classification of upsetting images for children, and the parental responsibility of 'advisory' classifications. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Dir. Steven Spielberg, 1984) was cut by distributors in the UK in order to achieve a family friendly PG certificate. The season will give audiences a chance to see the 12 rated and uncut Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the first time in a UK cinema.


Having wrestled with the 'teenage rampage' issues of The Wild One, the BBFC passed Blackboard Jungle (Dir. Richard Brooks, 1955) only after several minutes of cuts. This tale of an altruistic teacher attempting to 'reach' his disillusioned students prompted reports of Teddy Boy audiences being provoked into seat-slashing revelry. This Is England (Dir. Shane Meadows, 2010) is a more recent example of a film which provoked discussions of certification for teenagers. This brilliant coming-of-age tale follows a young boy who becomes seduced by the bigotry of a racist skinhead mentor. Rated 18 by the BBFC for strong racist violence and language, the film made headlines when Meadows insisted that its target audience was 15 year olds. Take this opportunity to decide for yourself whether or not our censors and classifiers have got it right or wrong over the years with this varied programme of potentially cut-able classics.

The season also ties in with an exhibition about the history of the BBFC and a centenary book mapping 100 years of film classification and controversy. Available from November, the book, Behind the Scenes at the BBFC: Film Classification from the Silver Screen to the Digital Age , invites a range of writers from both inside and outside the BBFC's walls to help form a picture of what the BBFC is all about. The BBFC exhibition, at the BFI Southbank Atrium throughout November, uses images and documents from the BBFC archives to bring to life the development of film classification over the past 100 years.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said:

The BBFC's centenary gives us a double opportunity: to showcase our initiatives for making the BBFC a still more trusted and up to date guide to the public in the internet age; and to celebrate the sometimes controversial, sometimes quirky, but always absorbing history of film classification in the UK. I am grateful to those who have made this film season possible, and especially to our industry partners and to the BFI. I am also grateful to the BFI for other collaborative work including on the centenary book and exhibition. This will be a really fascinating film season, showcasing films which, as well as being important films in their own right, raised classification issues which in many cases go to the heart of the balance between freedom of expression and the grounds for intervention. It also adds up to an unmissable slice of British culture and social history.



PC Sheep at ASA...

ASA easily offended by a BBFC 12A rated cinema advert and find it unsuitable for under 15s

Link Here9th October 2012

A cinema ad, for Britvic Club Orange drink, opened with a woman walking across an orange grove carrying a bottle of orange drink. Her cleavage was exposed and she said Do you like my bits? Of course you do. Come, let me show them to you . She pushed open a door labelled Club Orange and said Welcome to Club Orange . She walked through a laboratory-style room, where many women wearing short, white, open-fronted dresses, or bikini-type outfits, worked. She spoke to one: Mmm, nice bits , who replied Thanks, I squeezed them myself this morning . A row of women held a pair of oranges in front of their bodies as the main character said We love bits, all bits, as long as they're juicy and natural ... We are not only interested in the size of the bits, don't be shallow ... what is important is what's inside too - like juice. At this point, she dipped her finger into an orange half and licked it. A scene outside in the orange grove featured two women carrying wooden crates containing oranges, again with their cleavage exposed. The main character said And now we say goodbye. We know you boys can't wait to get your hands on our bits .

1. One complainant, who saw the ad before a 9.30pm screening of Prometheus (rated 15), challenged whether it was offensive and irresponsible, because it was sexist, objectified women and reinforced chauvinistic stereotypes to impressionable young people of how women should portray themselves.

2. A second complainant, who saw the ad before a screening of a Batman film (rated 12A), challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and inappropriate for children.

Britvic Ireland Ltd (Britvic) responded that this ad was part of a broader marketing campaign designed to make the Club Orange soft drink more appealing to its core target audience of 18- to 30-year-old men. Britvic acknowledged that the ad might not have been to everyone's taste but stressed that they had targeted it carefully and did not believe it was either socially irresponsible or likely to cause widespread harm or offence.

The Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) responded that they had considered the ad in view of the CAP Code and approved it for screening before films carrying a 15 or 18 rating in the UK. The CAA acknowledged the apparent sexism of the ad, but considered that this was exaggerated to such an extent that it would not be taken seriously.

The CAA also noted that the advert had been awarded a 12A certificate by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). They explained that the normal course of action when the restrictions imposed on an ad by the CAA and BBFC differed was to adhere to the stricter judgement. They said in this case the screening of the ad had been affected by a systems change whereby the CAA restriction had not been carried over.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the ad featured a lot of women in bikinis or short dresses inviting men to contemplate their bits and that therefore in some respects the ad did reflect sexist attitudes. However, we considered that it was clear the scenario was fantastical in nature, because of the setting and context, and that it would not encourage young women to conform to the stereotype it portrayed. Whilst we accepted that some people might interpret it as objectifying women and that it would not appeal to all tastes, we considered that the average viewer would recognise the ad as an over-the-top satirical spoof and that therefore it was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence to audiences aged 15 or over.

On that point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and Offence) but did not find it in breach.

2. Upheld

We understood that due to a systems failure the ad had been screened before the 12A-rated film The Dark Knight Rises. We considered that the ad was not suitable for younger audiences who might be less able to identify its satirical intent. Because the ad contained imagery and dialogue of an adult nature but had been shown before a film carrying a 12A rating, we concluded that it was irresponsible and inappropriate for children.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 (Children).

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