Baise-Moi banned in Australia
Note: Baise Moi has been passed for video in the UK, with 2 seconds of cuts from the film version (which itself had 10 seconds of cuts).
My protest letter
Your decision to ban Boise-Moi is just outrageous. I only went to see the film because it was banned, but found it far more interesting than I had expected - and, though parts of it were certainly confronting, far less disturbing than many films over which there was no fuss. I do understand that the _general_ rule is that actual sex is not permitted in the R classification, but this seems like a highly plausible case for an exception - a serious, artistically innovative and intellectually challenging film widely distributed internationally. And 6 of 11 of the original classifiers apparently thought so, anyway, and in the presence of uncertainty or doubt surely the most liberal classification should prevail.
The OFLC Response
13181 02/9076 Dear Mr Yee Thank you for your email of 28 May 2002 concerning the classification of the film Baise-Moi. On 19 September 2001 the Classification Board viewed the film Baise-Moi and in a 6-5 majority decision, classified the film R18+ with the consumer advice 'strong sexual violence, high level violence, actual sex and adult themes'. The R18+ category for films is legally restricted to adults. The Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon Daryl Williams AM QC MP, requested a review of the Classification Board's decision on 21 April 2002. The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act) provides the Attorney-General with the power to request a review of a Classification Board decision pursuant to s 42(1)(a). The Attorney-General does not take that power lightly and the fact a film is classified by a close majority does not in and of itself justify the exercise of the power. However, representations made to the Attorney-General by concerned individuals and groups prompted him to read the Board's decision. After careful consideration, the Attorney-General reached the view that there was at least an arguable issue about whether Baise-Moi ought to have been classified R18+ and that there was merit in requesting the Classification Review Board to review the Board's decision. It should be noted that the Attorney-General does not have the power to overturn a decision of the Classification Board or ban a film. Section 42(1)(a) enables him to refer a decision to the Classification Review Board for independent review. On 10 May 2002, the Classification Review Board met to review the R18+ classification of the film. In a unanimous decision the Review Board classified the film RC (Refused Classification). A film classified RC cannot be shown legally in Australia. I attach a copy of the Review Board's press release from that date. A copy of the written reasons for the Review Board's decision will be posted on the Office of Film and Literature Classification's (OFLC) website, www.oflc.gov.au, as soon as they are available. The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board are two separate statutory bodies established by the Act. The Classification Board is a full-time body located at the OFLC in Sydney that classifies material on a daily basis. The Classification Review Board is a part-time body whose members meet as required to consider review applications. The Act provides that reviews may be sought by the applicant for classification, the publisher of the film, computer game or publication concerned, the Minister (ie the Commonwealth Attorney-General) or a person aggrieved by the decision. In any year the Classification Board may make in the order of 6,000 classification decisions about publications, films and computer games. Only a very small proportion of these decisions are the subject of review. For example, in the last financial year, there were 21 applications for review of Classification Board decisions. Both Boards are required to make decisions about films in accordance with the Act, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Videotapes. Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers with censorship responsibilities have approved the Code and guidelines which are available on OFLC's website. Baise-Moi is a controversial film which has attracted extensive public comment both in Australia and overseas. While I can assure you that both boards take their responsibility to reflect current community standards very seriously, it is unlikely that, for films and other material at the borderlines of the classification categories, any decision can satisfy everyone. However, the national classification scheme provides an effective mechanism for considering the more contentious material and has operated in this case in the manner set out in the legislation. The OFLC is currently conducting a review of the classification guidelines for films and computer games. Ministers responsible for censorship will decide later in 2002 whether the guidelines require amendment so that they continue to reflect accurately community standards in this area. Information regarding that review can be obtained from the OFLC website. Thank you for your correspondence, I hope this information assists you. Yours sincerely Des Clark Director 12 June 2002