Archive for the ‘BBFC Decisions’ Category

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Red Sparrow DVD The BBFC reports on its complaints received in its annual report. And 2018 saw a bumper crop (relative to previous years. The BBFC wrote:

In 2018 we received 364 complaints covering 101 films and 67 complaints covering 24 trailers. The majority of these were from people who had attended the cinema or viewed films at home. However, we also received a number of complaints inspired by news reports, online blogs and organised campaigns.

The top films attracting complaints were:

Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow attracted 64 complaints. All correspondents felt that we should have classified the film at 18 instead of 15 because of elements of violence and sexual violence in the film.

Peter Rabbit

Fifty people contacted us about Peter Rabbit, a film featuring animated rabbits and based on the stories of Beatrix Potter. Four people complained about violence and upsetting scenes but the majority complained about a scene in which the rabbits pelt their adversary, an adult man, with fruit in order to defend themselves from his attack and provoke an allergic reaction. Complainants felt that this was unacceptable at PG because it might be emulated by children.

We received complaints about the allergic reaction before the film was released in the UK in response to press coverage that started in the US. We received no complaints about this scene after the film was released.

A Northern Soul

We classified the film 15 because of around 20 uses of strong language. While the language in the film is not used aggressively or sexually, our research suggests that a significant proportion of parents are concerned about the normalisation of such language in films. The language in A Northern Soul, is used casually in conversations, across a relatively short feature (75 minutes), with no particular justification.

Three people wrote to us complaining about the 15 rating for A Northern Soul feeling a 12A would be more appropriate. We received 45 postcards protesting the 15 rating; however, these had been created and handed out to cinema goers by the filmmakers at screenings and do not provide an accurate representation of broad public opinion.

Kaala

Kaala is a Tamil-language drama which we classified 12A. 43 people emailed us to complain about the film’s release. The complaints were not about the rating of the film itself but seemed to object to the actions of the film makers. They were all worded identically and were clearly part of an organised online campaign.

Show Dogs

A police Rottweiler goes undercover at a dog show. As part of the operation he is required to let the judges inspect his genitals in a manner that is not uncommon in dog shows. The character is reluctant but is encouraged to go to his happy place to get through the experience.

Thirty-one people wrote in to us echoing claims made in blogs that the scene might lower children’s resistance to predators who wish to inappropriately touch them.

However, the scene is comic, innocent and non-sexual in nature and occurs within the fantastical context of a film about anthropomorphised canines.

In a similar vein to Peter Rabbit the complaints regarding Show Dogs predominantly stopped once the film had been released in cinemas.

Love Simon trailer

We received 18 complaints about a PG-rated trailer for the film Love, Simon. The trailer covers teenage relationships and features some implied kissing and references to being in love. All complainants took issue with the discussion of sex and teenage relationships in the trailer but 11 took particular issue with the fact that the character is gay, believing the depiction of gay relationships to be inappropriate at the PG level.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One received ten complaints with correspondents focusing on infrequent strong language at 12A and some moments of horror.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom received six complaints, chiefly regarding very young children being brought to the 12A screenings.

Venom

Six people complained about Venom, which is rated 15. Complainants were disappointed they or their children would be unable to see the film.

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archive org 0274x0300 logo The BBFC has just published a very short list of adjudications responding to website blocking complaints to mobile ISPs during the last quarter of 2018.There are several cases where innocuous websites were erroneously blocked by ISPs for no apparent reason whatsoever and a quick check by a staff member would have sorted out without the need to waste the BBFC’s time. These sites should get compensation from the for grossly negligent and unfair blocking.

The only adjudication of note was that the general archive website archive.org which of course keeps a snapshot of a wide range of websites including some porn.

The BBFC noted that this was the second time that they have taken a look at the site::

The BBFC provided a further adjudication when we viewed the website on 10 October 2018. As in September 2015, we determined that the site was a digital archive which hosted a range of media including video, books and articles. We found a range of pornography across the archive which featured explicit images of sexual activity, in both animated and non-animated contexts. The site also contained repeated uses of very strong language. Additionally, out of copyright film and video material which the BBFC has passed 18 was also present on the site.

As such, we concluded that we would continue to classify the site 18.

It is interesting to note that the BBFC have never been asked to adjudicate about similarly broad websites where it would be totally untenable to come to the same 18 rated but correct conclusion, eg google.com, youtube.com, twitter.com. They would all have to be 18 rated and it would cause untold trouble for everybody. I wonder who decides ‘best not go there’?

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lambeth council logo Eight local councils have now decided to overturn a film’s BBFC 15 age rating so younger viewers can watch it.The documentary A Northern Soul was rated 15 by the BBFC for strong language. The BBFC commented:

It  includes around 20 uses of strong language and therefore exceeds by some margin anything we have ever permitted at 12A.

The film follows Steve, who struggles to make ends meet as he tries to teach hip-hop to children in Hull schools with his Beats Bus.

So far, licensing committees in Hull, Lambeth, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton, Hackney and Calderdale have downgraded A Northern Soul from a 15 to a 12A.

Phil Bates, licensing manager at Southampton City Council, said he viewed the film differently because it’s a documentary rather than a drama. He explained:

We can see why BBFC awarded a 15 rating, although equally we can see why other authorities have also granted it a 12A.

The use of profane language is fairly infrequent, some of it was used at a time of stress but there were occasions when it was used as everyday language. As this is a fly-on-the-wall style film, showing life as it is, rather than a scripted film where the language is used for effect, we felt the film warranted a 12A.

Director Sean McAllister spoke of the councils’ decisions: I think they’re responding as human beings. He added that Steve’s language was credible and real and culturally embedded within how he speaks. He continued:

The irony is that the motivation for making this film and the heart of why this film should be seen has got the thing censored.

When people actually see it, everyone’s saying ‘where’s the swearing?’ They [the BBFC] have done a word count, which is an F count, and they’ve simply censored it based on that. And they’ve got to get over that.

When in Mission Impossible people are having their heads blown off and 12As are being granted, the whole thing is hypocritical, backward and needs reassessing. Language not used for effect

The BBFC repeated its mantra that its classification guidelines are the result of a large scale public consultation designed to reflect broad public opinion across the UK. Bit in reality the ‘large scale’ part of its public consultation asks a few broad brush questions about whether people generally agree with the BBFC about ratings. The questions do not offer any more nuanced insight into what people think about swearing in the context of everyday parlance of some working people.

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House of Commons logo B usiness of the House

The House of Commons on 6th September

Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you will have seen the 2010 film The King’s Speech , portraying George VI. It contained 11 uses of the F-word and was granted a classification of 12A. I recently saw the highly rated documentary A Northern Soul by Hull film-maker Sean McAllister. Its main character uses the F-word 14 times and it is heard 19 times in total in the film. None of it was aggressive or gratuitous, and the film simply portrays the life of a working-class Hull man and his work helping local children, but it has been given a 15 certificate nationally. May we therefore have a debate about whether there is a class bias in the way censors seek to protect younger teenagers from the reality and language that many experience in their lives every day?

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady raises a genuinely interesting point, and I urge her to seek an Adjournment debate so she can discuss it with Ministers and then take it forward.

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Poster Padmavati 2017 Sanjay Leela Bhansali Padmavati is a 2017 India historical romance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. BBFC link IMDb

Rani Padmavati (aka Padmini) is said to be one of the most beautiful women to ever exist. This real life story is epitome of Love and sacrifice between Rajput Queen Padmavati and Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. Their perfect life took unfortunate turn when Allauddin Khilji’s lustful eyes gazed upon Queen Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his brother-in-laws and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati. Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true Rajputana spirit, loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power.

Producers of a Bollywood period epic have indefinitely delayed its release following countrywide protests by Hindu right-wing and caste groups.

The epic in Awadhi language extols the virtue of Padmavati who committed sati, the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre, to protect her honour from the invading Muslim emperor Khilji who had killed her husband, the Rajput king, in a battle.

Sati is believed to have originated some 700 years ago among the ruling class or Rajputs in India. The Rajput women burnt themselves after their men were defeated in battles to avoid being taken by the victors. But it came to be seen as a measure of wifely devotion in later years. The custom was outlawed by India’s British rulers in 1829 following demands by Indian reformers.

Historians point out that Jayasi’s epic ballad about a Muslim emperor attacking a kingdom smitten by the beauty of a Hindu queen was written in the 16th Century, more than 200 years after the historical record of the invasion. They say the folklore around Padmavati have also been problematic as they have glorified sati.

Rumours of a scene in the film of the Muslim king dreaming of getting romantic with the Hindu queen enraged many like the Rajput Karnik Sena, a fringe caste group, who have called for the film to be banned. Director Bhansali has said the film does not feature such dream sequence at all .

Last week, the group, which had disrupted the shooting and slapped Bhansali on the set of the film earlier this year, vandalised cinemas , and threatened to chop off Padukone’s nose, referring to a story in the epic Ramayana where a character has her nose chopped off as punishment.

Rajput community members have burnt effigies of Bhansali and sought a ban of the film. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has said it should not be released until necessary changes are made so that sentiments of any community are not hurt.

A regional leader of the BJP at the weekend announced a reward of nearly $1.5m for anyone beheading Bhansali and Padukone .

Update: BBFC Rating

BBFC logo 23rd November 2017. See article from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC has published its rating for the British cinema release of Padmavati. The film is rated 12A uncut for moderate violence, injury detail.

Update: Former Indian film censor claims that the BBFC is acting illegally in passing the film for UK release

24th November 2017 See article from timesnownews.com

pahlaj-nihalaniFormer Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Pahlaj Nihalani has claimed that the BBFC decision of certifying the movie Padmavati is illegal.

In an interview with ANI, Nihalani said that for a film to get certification overseas, it’s a must that it is passed by the Indian Censor Board. If they’ve got a thumbs up from Britain without even sending the film, it’s against the law.

He added that the BBC has no control over the release of an Indian film. If the film is released outside India, it will eventually be pirated to India, he said.

Meanwhile, a petition seeking orders to the makers to not release the film outside India on December 1, has been filed in the Supreme Court.

Back home, Padmavati has been postponed for an indefinite period of time owing to the furious protests against it by the fringe groups – Rajasthan-based Rajput Karni Sena in particular. The groups are protesting an alleged romantic sequence between Padmavati (based on the legend of Rani Padmini of Chittorgarh) and Mughal Emperor Alauddin Khilji. Some fanatic groups are also incensed with the fact that Rani Padmavati has been shown dancing in the film asserting that Rajput maharanis never danced in front of anyone.

Update: Violent Indian nationalists call for British cinemas to be burnt down

24th November 2017 See  article from independent.co.uk

rajput karni sena white logoBritish cinemas that screen a controversial new Bollywood blockbuster should be burned down, the leader of a hardline Hindu nationalist group has claimed.

Members of the Rajput Karni Sena, a group associated with the warrior Rajput caste, claim it misrepresents history by depicting a love affair between the queen and a Muslim invader. The group is further upset that the queen’s midriff is exposed in a song sequence.

Now the leader of Rajput Karni Sena, Sukhdev Singh has called for action to be taken in the UK. He told Republic TV:

I call on Hindus in the UK and particularly my community brothers to protest against the screening of the film there. I have told them any cinema hall which screens the movie will be burnt.

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Ballerina DVD Ballerina (aka Leap!) is a 2016 France / Canada children’s musical cartoon by Eric Summer and Éric Warin.
Starring Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan and Maddie Ziegler. BBFC link IMDb

Set in 1879 Paris. An orphan girl dreams of becoming a ballerina and flees her rural Brittany for Paris, where she passes for someone else and accedes to the position of pupil at the Grand Opera house.

UK:  A cut Edited Version was passed U uncut for mild threat for:

UK:  The Uncut Version was passed PG for infrequent mild bad language for:

  • 2017 Entertainment One video

The BBFC Insight includes the following comment about the PG rated version that is not in the U rated version.

There is a single use of mild bad language (‘bitch’) in the lyrics of a song playing in the background of one scene.

Localised versions have been released for the UK and US and this may explain the different U and PG rated versions.

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Poster Fifty Shades of Black 2016 Michael Tiddes Fifty Shades of Black is a 2016 USA comedy by Michael Tiddes.
Starring Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk and Fred Willard. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

An inexperienced college student meets a wealthy businessman whose sexual practices put a strain on their relationship.

It was original passed 18 uncut for cinema for very strong sex references for:

The film distributors appealed to the BBFC for a reconsideration of a 15 rating. The BBFC agreed, commenting:

This work was originally classified 18 with cuts on 27/01/2016. This determination was formally reconsidered by the BBFC at the request of the submitting company. The BBFC carefully considered the arguments put forward by the submitting company, looked again at the relevant submitted material, and concluded that a revision to the original determination was appropriate.

The film is now passed 15 uncut for strong sex references.