Archive for the ‘BBFC People’ Category

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BBFC logoEmily Fussell’s BBFC masterclass
Eden Court’s La Scala cinema, Inverness
Tuesday 25th August at 6.30pm.
Note: This event is suitable for aged 15 and over, but some clips from 18 certificate films may be shown.

Emily Fussell, a former cinema manager, works for the BBFC. Previously known as the British Board of Film Censors, these days the BBFC prefers to avoid the more emotive “censor” and titles Fussell and her colleagues examiners. However, the old terminology has not entirely died away.

When you’re in the pub trying to explain what you do, you pretty much have to say ‘I’m a film censor’, Fussell acknowledged.

Fussell will be in Inverness next week to give an insight into the enclosed world of film classification – and give Highland film enthusiasts a chance to do some censorship of their own. I get the audience to use their knowledge and try and classify something themselves, Fussell said: It’s amazing the reactions you get. Sometime you feel that young people are quite lenient and older people are more censorious, but when I showed people a clip from ‘Team America: World Police’ where the puppets have sex, the younger people wanted to give it quite a high rating but the older people were fine about it: ‘Oh, it’s just puppets.’

Most years see the BBFC embroiled in some controversy over its decisions, most recently Cannes prize-winner Antichrist from Danish director Lars Von Trier has been attacked for explicit sex and violence and faced calls for local authorities to ban the film after it was passed uncut by the BBFC.

Defending the BBFC’s decision to pass the film, Fussell suggested much of the controversy had been generated by people who had not actually seen the film: A lot of the controversy about ‘Antichrist’ is based on a scene of explicit sex. There’s also a close up shot of genital mutilation, but that’s obviously not real, just gore and special effects. There’s nothing in it that would be harmful and that’s primarily what we are looking at. When we watched it we never had any doubt that it would be an 18 uncut. That’s the way we operate these days: an adult should be able to see what they want as long as it is not harmful. […or Grotesque?]

Index on Censorship magazineMurray Perkins has been a senior examiner at the BBFC since May 2000, classifying 18 and R18 film and video. He discusses the material he views – some extremely violent and graphically obscene – in technical, unemotional and non-judgmental terms. This is, as he says himself, a mechanical and a professional process – he and his fellow examiners have to assess whether material meets the guidelines and is within the law.

The detachment he brings to his work in order to make those judgments is evident in the manner in which he discusses his job. In a field that attracts such an extreme range of responses, it’s rare to encounter such a phlegmatic approach.

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David Cooke talks about the work of the BBFC

David Cooke

David Cooke

David Cooke is the Director of the BBFC. He told the Guardian:

There are about 40 people who are examiners at the BBFC. They watch the films, play the games and watch the DVDs. All certification goes out with my name on it. That’s about 17,000 titles a year, which is a little nerve-wracking. I see between one and three films a week.

We try and keep in line with public opinion and I think we’re an accurate reflection. We’re not trying to lead the public but sometimes we have to make a decision. They aren’t Chris Tarrant issues; we can’t phone a friend.

We get twitchy when sex and violence come together. It’s a hugely contested area but we tend to err on the side of caution. It’s an issue the public is also worried about.

We look at sexual violence in terms of how likely it is that the scene will encourage someone else to do it. Is the rape scene aversive? Is it off-putting? If it is saying that rape is OK, that’s when it gets worrying and we will act.

Broadly speaking, at an adult level, people should be free to choose what they want to watch

Some sexual acts blur the lines. Urolagnia is a sexual fetish with a focus on urine and urination. Whether this is legal to show in a film is a case for the courts.

The Ketchup Effect is a Swedish film about a 13-year-old girl and her first sexual experiences. In it was a shot of an erect penis. Now we knew the penis wasn’t real and that the subject was being treated sensitively but we had to give the film an 18 certificate. Was it the right decision? Was it educational?

I think there are regional differences in terms of what is and what isn’t acceptable, but mainly in terms of bad language. The public don’t like bad language.

We are still one of the more conservative film regulators in the world. French regulators come out with completely different conclusions to us. Whereas we will put an 18 certificate on a Tarantino film, they give his films a 12 certificate and call it art.