Danny Yee >> Internet Censorship in Australia >> the OFLC
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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


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
12 June 2002

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