Archive for the ‘BBFC’ Category

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Complaints to the BBFC have been  outlined in the BBFC Annual Report covering 2016:

Deadpool DVD The film Deadpool generated the largest amount of public feedback in2016, with 51 complaints.

Some viewers were concerned about the level of violence in the film. The BBFC responded that the violence is strong and frequently bloody, this often occurs during fast-paced action sequences with little focus on detail. There is also a comic tone to the violence, and the film’s fantastical setting further distances it from reality.

The BBFC also received complaints about sex references and strong language in Deadpool. The BBFC responded that though strong sex references do occur throughout the film, most of these are in the form of comic verbal quips or innuendo. Deadpool contains frequent use of strong language (‘fuck’, ‘motherfucker’). However, there is no upper limit on the number of uses of strong language at 15.The sex references and language are therefore acceptable at the classification.

The BBFC received 30 complaints about Suicide Squad .

Most of the feedback was from children under the age of fifteen, or their parents, who had hoped that the film would achieve a lower classification. The sustained threat and moderate violence in Suicide Squad were too strong to warrant a 12A.

The BBFC received 20 complaints regarding Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Some members of the public believed the film to be too scary for a 12A classification. Te BBFC responded that scenes of horror in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children involve some monster characters known as Hollows which feast on eyeballs. These scenes are infrequent and the fantasy setting of the film as a whole reduces the intensity of these moments.

Nineteen members of the public wrote to the BBFC regarding the level of violence in Jason Bourne , classified 12A.

Some complaints focussed on the term moderate violence and argued that this did not reflect the level of detail depicted. The BBFC responded that although there are some heavy blows, little is shown in terms of injury detail, with the focus instead placed on action.

Sausage Party attracted 19 complaints.

Sausage Party DVD Some of the feedback concerned the film’s sex references. A scene in Sausage Party shows food products taking part in an orgy, during which various sexual activities are depicted, but in an unrealistic manner. Given the animated nature of the film and the comic context, this scene is acceptable at 15.

Some members of the public complained about the film’s three uses of very strong language (‘cunt’). The comic and non aggressive delivery of the very strong language in Sausage Party means that it is acceptable at 15.

Other complaints about Sausage Party focussed on drug use. Drug references in the film are either unrealistic (for example, food products smoking joints) or involve non-existent drugs (for example, bath salts). As such, they are permissible at 15, where drug taking may be shown but the work as a whole must not promote or encourage drug misuse.

Eighteen members of the public wrote to the BBFC about the violence in 10 Cloverfield Lane (12A).

There is a scene where a character is shot; however, this takes place off screen, and no impact or detail is shown. Another scene shows the antagonist being injured by a barrel of acid, his face visibly burnt. However, there is no significant focus on the injury detail. There are several scenes of moderate threat in the film which create a dark tone that the BBFC recognised as being at the upper end of the 12A level. At 12A,moderate physical and psychological threat is permitted as long as horror sequences are not too frequent or sustained, and the overall tone is not disturbing.

The BBFC received ten complaints about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice regarding threat, violence and the dark tone of the film.

Moments of threat include characters being held at gunpoint, and some nightmarish dream sequences. The BBFC responded that the violence and tone sit within a known fantasy context consistent with both BBFC Classification Guidelines and past instalments of the Batman series at the 12A classification. There is limited detail of injury in the film and, in the few moments where injury is seen, there is no emphasis on either injuries or blood.

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bbfc 2016 In 2016 the BBFC age rated 1,075 films for cinema release, the most since 1957, proving that Britain continues to be a nation of film enthusiasts. In a year where almost twice as many films were released in cinemas compared to 2009, more films were rated 15 (401) than any other age rating. Every film age rated by the BBFC comes with detailed BBFCinsight information to help people make informed viewing choices for themselves and their family.

Away from the cinema the popularity of digital content continued to rise. In line with this, the BBFC charted an 85% increase in the number of minutes of digital content submitted to it compared to 2015, with Netflix sending more titles to the BBFC than any other customer. In 2016 the BBFC also age rated a virtual reality (VR) film for the first time as ABE VR, a short horror VR film, was rated 15 for bloody violence and threat.

David Austin, BBFC Chief Executive, said:

The BBFC’s key aim is to help families make viewing decisions that work for them at the cinema and at home, where an increasing amount of content is available online, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray. We were also named by Government as, subject to designation, the preferred regulator for the age verification of pornographic content online under the Digital Economy Act, a further endorsement of our expertise as a regulator that has the ability to help protect children from unsuitable content online. The BBFC will continue to adapt to innovations in technology and shape its Classification Guidelines in line with the attitudes of people living across the UK, including parents with young children, regular film viewers and teenagers.

In addition to providing the latest age rating information on its website and free app, the BBFC continues to publish resources for students, including a regular podcast. In 2016 the BBFC’s education team also held 151 teaching sessions for over 9,000 people, talking to them about the history of the BBFC, what the age ratings mean, and how they can check what the key issues are in a film, DVD/Blu-ray or VOD release, before they watch it.

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david milesAs Policy Director David Miles is the principal adviser on policy and public affairs to the Chief Executive. He is responsible for coordinating the BBFC’s policy work and managing and leading on its public affairs effort. The role is also responsible for managing the BBFC’s research, communications and education programmes.

David Miles, BBFC Policy Director said: The BBFC is an intelligent and innovative organisation with a growing remit online, as well as an important legacy as a British institution and one of the most respected film and video regulators in the world. I am very pleased to join the BBFC as its Policy Director and look forward to working with all BBFC staff to ensure the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines continue to adapt shifting public opinion and the BBFC provides the best possible, transparent and accessible guidance for anyone making a film, DVD/Blu-ray or VOD viewing decision for themselves or on behalf of children.

I also look forward to the opportunity to work on the BBFC’s proposed role as the age verification regulator for pornography online, a significant and vital step in reducing children’s exposure to online pornography available in the UK, and a role I believe the BBFC is well equipped to fulfil.

David joined the BBFC as a consultant in February 2017, before his appointment as Policy Director in June 2017. Prior to this David held a wide range of executive leadership roles in the technology and charitable sector, including IBM and the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI). He is currently a member of UNICEF’s Expert Panel for the Global Fund to End Violence against Children, as well as former Executive Board member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and chair of several key working groups. David is a Freeman of the City of London and a member of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT), one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Company received its Royal Charter in 2010.

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tandridge district council logoA Surrey council has introduced a policy to allow parents with babies to attend 15 and 18 rated films at cinemas in the district.Although BBFC 15 and 18 certificates specify that nobody under that age can attend cinema screenings, councils are the ultimate authority for specifying rules and licensing conditions for cinemas in their areas.

Parents are now being offered the chance to watch 15 and 18 rated films with their young children under Tandridge District Council rules.

Some mothers and fathers in the council area had expressed their wish to watch more adult films in parent and baby cinema club screenings.

Tandridge Council has decide to enable this, in theory giving parents the opportunity to watch Quentin Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction , Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick, with their children.

However council officers will decide what is and isn’t appropriate viewing on a case by case basis. The council said:

It is anticipated that scenes of strong violence and gore, sex and strong threat will lead to greater concern around viewing by children of that age than will strong language, mild nudity and discriminatory content.

This approach will only apply for screenings advertised and restricted to ‘parent and baby’ only.

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open rights group 2016 logo A Freedom of Information request to the DCMS has revealed that porn company MindGeek suggested that the BBFC should potentially block millions of porn sites if they didn’t comply with Age Verification requirements outlined in the Digital Economy Act.

MindGeek, who are also developing Age Verification technology, said that the Government’s plans to prevent children from seeing pornography would not be effective unless millions of sites could be blocked.

Notes made by the company and sent to the DCMS state:

A greylist of 4M URLs already exists from Sky, but lets assume that’s actually much smaller as these URLs will I suspect, be page- level blocks, not TLDs. The regulator should contact them all within that 12 months, explaining that if they do not demonstrate they are AV ready by the enforcement date then they will be enforced against. “On the enforcement date, all sites on the greylist turn black or white depending upon what they have demonstrated to the regulator.

Corey Price, VP of Pornhub, separately noted:

It is our corporate responsibility as part of the global tech community to promote ethical and responsible behavior. We firmly believe that parents are best placed to police their children’s online activity using the plethora of tools already available in modern operating systems. The law has the potential to send a message to parents that they no longer need to monitor their children’s online activity, so it is therefore essential that the Act is robustly enforced.

Despite the law, those seeking adult content can still circumvent age verification using simple proxy/VPN services. Consequently the intent of the legislation is to only protect children who stumble across adult content in an un-protected environment. There are over 4 million domains containing adult content, and unless sites are enforced against equally, stumbling across adult content will be no harder than at present. If the regulator pursues a proportionate approach we may only see the Top 50 sites being effected 203 this is wholly unacceptable as the law will then be completely ineffective, and simply discriminate against compliant sites. We are therefore informing, and closely monitoring the development of the regulations, to be published later this year, to see if they achieve the intended goals of the Act.

MindGeek could stand to gain commercially if competitor websites are blocked from UK visitors, or if the industry takes up their Age Verification product.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

There is nothing in the Act to stop the BBFC from blocking 4.6 million pornographic websites. The only constraint is cash.

This leaves the BBFC wide open to pressure for mass website blocking without any need for a change in the law.

When giving evidence to the Public Bill Committee , the chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification, David Austin implied that only tens of sites would be targeted:

We would start with the top 50 and work our way through those, but we would not stop there. We would look to get new data every quarter, for example. As you say, sites will come in and out of popularity. We will keep up to date and focus on those most popular sites for children.

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Poster Embrace 2016 Taryn BrumfittEmbrace is a 2016 Australia / Canada / Dominican Republic / Germany / USA / UK documentary by Taryn Brumfitt.
Starring Renee Airya, Jade Beall and Taryn Brumfitt. BBFC link IMDb

When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn’s crusade as she explores the global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.

A few days ago the BBFC entry for the film read:

UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, nudity, brief surgical detail for:

  • 2016 cinema release

The entry has now been updated to:

UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language for:

  • 2016 cinema release

There is no mention of cuts and the running times remains the same. The nudity and surgical detail could have been pixellated out. But it seems more likely that feminists have dreamt up a new rule of political correctness that nudity does not count in the context of a feminist film.

Perhaps the BBFC advice should read, strong language, positive body image, negative surgical body image augmentation

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bannedThe BBFC currently cuts about 15% of all R18 porn films on their way to totally ordinary mainstream porn shops. These are not niche or speciality films, they are totally middle of the road porn, which represents the sort of content on all the world’s major porn sites. Most of the cuts are ludicrous but Murray Perkins, a senior examiner of the BBFC, points out that they are all considered either be to be harmful, or else are still prohibited by the police or the government for reasons that have long since past their sell by date.So about a sixth of all the world’s adult films are therefore considered prohibited by the British authorities, and so any website containing such films will have to be banned as there is to practical way to cut out the bits that wind up censors, police or government. And this mainstream but prohibited content appears on just about  all the world’s major porn sites, free or paid.

The main prohibitions that will cause a website to be blocked (even before considering whether they will set up strict age verification) are such mainstream content as female ejaculation, urine play, gagging during blow jobs, rough sex, incest story lines (which is a major genre of porn at the moment), use of the word ‘teen’ and verbal references to under 18’s.

Murray Perkins has picked up the job of explaining this catch all ban. He explains it well,  but he tries to throw readers off track by citing examples of prohibitions being justifiable because the apply to violent porn whilst not mentioning that they apply equally well to trivia such as female squirting.

Perkins writes in the Huffington Post:

BBFC logoRecent media reports highlighting what content will be defined as prohibited material under the terms of the Digital Economy Bill could have given an inaccurate impression of the serious nature of the harmful material that the BBFC generally refuses to classify. The BBFC works only to the BBFC Classification Guidelines and UK law, with guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and enforcement bodies, and not to any other lists.

The Digital Economy Bill aims to reduce the risk of children and young people accessing, or stumbling across, pornographic content online. It proposes that the BBFC check whether

(i) robust age verification is in place on websites containing pornographic content and

(ii) whether the website or app contains pornographic content that is prohibited.

An amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, passed in the House of Commons, would also permit the BBFC to ask Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block pornographic websites that refuse to offer effective age verification or contain prohibited material such as sexually violent pornography.

In making any assessment of content, the BBFC will apply the standards used to classify pornography that is distributed offline. Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 the BBFC is obliged to consider harm when classifying any content including 18 and R18 rated sex works. Examples of material that the BBFC refuses to classify include pornographic works that: depict and encourage rape, including gang rape; depict non-consensual violent abuse against women; promote an interest in incestuous behaviour; and promote an interest in sex with children. [Perkins misleadingly neglects to include, squirting, gagging, and urine play in his examples here]. The Digital Economy Bill defines this type of unclassifiable material as prohibited .-

Under its letters of designation the BBFC may not classify anything that may breach criminal law, including the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) as currently interpreted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS provides guidance on acts which are most commonly prosecuted under the OPA. The BBFC is required to follow this guidance when classifying content offline and will be required to do the same under the Digital Economy Bill. In 2015, 12% of all cuts made to pornographic works classified by the BBFC were compulsory cuts under the OPA. The majority of these cuts were to scenes involving urolagnia which is in breach of CPS guidance and could be subject to prosecution.