Posts Tagged ‘BBFC’

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bbfc 2019 T he BBFC has released its annual report, which shows a steady growth in both online and film classifications throughout 2019.

In 2019, the BBFC rated 6,506 pieces of content for online distribution, which is a 13% increase from 2018. Compared to just five years ago, online classifications have increased by a staggering 462% (1,158 in 2014).

The most popular age rating for online content is 15, with the BBFC rating 2,976 pieces of content with the classification.

Although content for Video on Demand (VoD) platforms remains the majority of the content classified by the BBFC, film classification has also seen an increase of 6% in the last year, up to 1,103. This marks a 99% increase over the last decade (555 in 2009).

The most popular age rating for film remains 15, with the BBFC rating 368 films for UK cinema goers with the classification.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said:

It’s clear that online platforms continue to thrive in the current media climate, and that they are increasingly using well-understood and trusted BBFC age ratings. Our mission is to help everybody choose content well, whenever, wherever, and however they view it, and people continue to tell us that they benefit from having age ratings and ratings in place, including online.

Over the last year we’ve continued to keep our finger on the pulse of what people really think, and we continue to make sure our age ratings are where people need them. Our innovative partnership with Netflix saw the streaming platform begin to rate its own content to produce BBFC ratings using a tagging system and algorithms that match the standards British families expect and want to see. We continue to look at new ways we can work with platforms to get families the information we know they need, and want.

Every film classified by the BBFC comes with long ratings info, available on the BBFC website and free app, so families can choose content well.

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dau degeneration poster Dau: Degeneration – Episode 9 is a 2020 Germany / Ukraine / UK / Russia drama by Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and Ilya Permyakov.
Starring Vladimir Azhippo, Dmitry Kaledin and Olga Shkabarnya. BBFC link IMDb

A secret Soviet Institute conducts scientific and occult experiments on animals and human beings to create the perfect person. The KGB general and his aides turn a blind eye to erotic adventures of the director of the Institute, scandalous debauches of prominent scientists and their cruel and insane research. One day, a radical ultra right-wing group arrives in the laboratory under the guise of test subjects. They get a task – to eradicate the decaying elements of the Institute’s community, and if needs be, destroy the fragile world of secret Soviet science.

The latest cinema cuts from the BBFC are to episode 9 of the Russian language arts film DAU: Degeneration. The film was rated 18 but only after cut for animal cruelty.

Thanks to Trash Panda who notes that the film has been streaming on dau.movie for several weeks in its uncut format with an assumed BBFC 18 label. Of course BBFC certificates are essentially voluntary online and do not carry any legal force.

Trash Panda also notes that another film fro the DAU project, Dau: Natasha, has proven controversial as actors were actually hurt on set. Perhaps related to the BBFC cuts here, Dau Natsasha has just been hastily taken down from the DAU website. Maybe they realised they were being a bit presumptive when streaming the film with a BBFC 18 label.

Note that Dau: Degeneration episodes 7 and 9 contain real sex with an 18 rating. See Hardcore 18s List: DAU Degeneration

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BBFC cut
68:01s

cut: 32s
run: 68:01s
pal: 65:18s
sub: 68:01s
18 dau degeneration 9 UK: Episode 9 was passed 18 for strong real sex, gory images after 32s of compulsory BBFC substitution cuts:

  • 2020 cinema release

The BBFC commented:

  • Compulsory cuts required to a scene in which a pig is killed, in a protracted and cruel fashion, by a knife hacking at its throat before its spinal cord is severed with an axe.

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The Prince of Tides…1991 USA drama by Barbra Streisand just released on UK Blu-ray now uprated to 18

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The Prince of Tides Blu-ray The Prince of Tides is a 1991 USA drama by Barbra Streisand.
Starring Barbra Streisand, Nick Nolte and Blythe Danner. BBFC link IMDb

There are no censorship issues with this release. The film was rated 15 uncut for 1991 cinema release, and for the follow up home video releases. The film was resubmitted for 2020 Blu-ray with a commentary track and the BBFC decided that film would now be 18 rated, should it be submitted in feature format. The BBFC tweeted:

We changed our guidelines on sexual violence at 15 in 2019. The scene of sexual violence in Prince of Tides is no longer permissible at 15. Therefore the rating has been raised to 18. We have not recently been asked to view the film, only the audio commentary version.

UK: Previously passed 15 uncut for:

  • 2020 Sony Pictures/Criterion Collection RB Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 27th April 2020
  • 2020 Sony Pictures Amazon Prime VoD [UK only] at UK Amazon

Note that the disk is 18 rated because of 18 rated extras. This rating can surely be ignored because it is just the BBFC virtue signaling about how seriously it is concerned about sexual violence, rather than a rating based on the explicitness and level of violence of the content.

Promotional Material

Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte star in the stunning screen adaptation of Pat Conroy’s best-selling novel, THE PRINCE OF TIDES. Nolte is Tom Wingo, a disillusioned Southern coach who must reveal his tortured childhood in order to help his suicidal sister. Streisand is Susan Lowenstein, the determined psychiatrist who battles Tom’s resentment and rage in search of the truth. Their antagonism gradually gives way to love, as Tom and Susan find the secret that unlocks his sister’s torment and the courage to change their own lives. Critically acclaimed as the best movie of the year, THE PRINCE OF TIDES was hailed by Jeffrey Lyons as a blockbuster, must-see, can’t-miss movie. Streisand also won rave reviews as director, assembling a superlative supporting cast that includes Blythe Danner, Kate Nelligan, Jeroen Krabb.

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Love Camp 7 is a 1969 USA war horror thriller by Lee Frost.
With Bob Cresse, Maria Lease and Kathy Williams. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

The film was banned as a video nasty in 1985, then banned from DVD by the BBFC in 2002. The film was banned again by the BBFC for 2020 VoD. Uncut elsewhere but there have only been a few obscure releases until the 2017 US DVD/Blu-ray Combo.

See further details at Melon Farmers Film Bans: Love Camp 7

The film has just been banned by the BBFC after being submitted for Video on Demand by Screenbound. Note that this is not quite an official ban as BBFC decisions for internet video carry no legal weight. But no doubt the major online sources will take heed anyway.

The BBFC commented on its website:

Love Camp 7 is a US film, from 1969, in which female agents are sent undercover into a Nazi prison camp where female prisoners are sexually abused, raped and tortured by soldiers. It was previously refused a classification for DVD release in 2002. The present submission is for distribution on VOD.

The BBFC’s Classification Guidelines state that We may refuse to classify content which makes rape or other non-consensual sexually violent behaviour look appealing or acceptable, reinforces the suggestion that victims enjoy such behaviour, or invites viewer complicity in such behaviour. They also state that As a last resort, the BBFC may refuse to classify a work, in line with the objective of preventing non-trivial harm risks to potential viewers and, through their behaviour, to society. We may do so, for example, where a central concept of the work is unacceptable, such as a sustained focus on sexual rape, other non-consensual sexually violent behaviour or sadistic violence.

Because LOVE CAMP 7 is largely comprised of scenes of non consensual sexual activity, including rape, presented in a manner that is intended to arouse viewers, its central concept is unacceptable and the sexually abusive material it contains too pervasive for cuts to be an effective solution.

Accordingly, the BBFC has refused classification to this work.

The BBFC further commented at a board meeting [pdf] :

The film was recently submitted for classification for VOD release. Given its status as a previously rejected work it was viewed by the entire Compliance team and certain members of the Policy team before referral to the Board.

The Board noted that there are a number of prolonged scenes of non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, in Love Camp 7 , in many cases featuring a focus on female nudity. Such scenes are frequently gratuitous, both in terms of length and detail, going some way beyond what is required by the narrative, and in some cases perpetuating harmful rape myths. These issues were considered in relation to the BBFC’s 2019 Guidelines consultation, which found depictions of sexual violence to be of particular concern to the public.

The Board discussed the extent to which the film’s datedness and risibility limits its impact, and considered the film’s likely appeal and audience. It was observed that, while aspects of the film are dated, the sequences of sexual violence and abuse are not. It was also noted that while the film is different in many respects to modern pornography, its close and repeated focus on nudity means the sequences of sexual violence and abuse still have the potential to arouse.

The Board concluded that because that as Love Camp 7 is largely comprised non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, presented in a manner that is intended to arouse viewers, its central concept is unacceptable and the sexually abusive material too pervasive for cuts to be an effective solution. Accordingly, the Board agreed that the BBFC should refuse to classify Love Camp 7 .

Passed 12 uncut for sexual threat, language, self-harm, sexual violence references and over 20 instances of the word ‘fuck’

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Poster Lost Girls 2020 Liz Garbus Lost Girls is a 2020 USA mystery thriller by Liz Garbus.
Starring Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie and Gabriel Byrne. BBFC link IMDb

When Mari Gilbert’s (Academy Award® nominee Amy Ryan) daughter disappears, police inaction drives her own investigation into the gated Long Island community where Shannan was last seen. Her search brings attention to over a dozen murdered sex workers Mari will not let the world forget. From Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus, LOST GIRLS is inspired by true events detailed in Robert Kolker’s “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery.”

Lost Girls is major offering from Netflix that demonstrated a major failing at the BBFC with its automated random rating generator used for Netflix ratings.

A ludicrous 12 rating was posted on the BBFC site, and people started to question it. As described by Neil

It was originally rated 12 and a few of us flagged that the system had failed because the content was above and beyond the 12 bracket (dead prostitutes, domestic abuse, over 20 instances of the word fuck (some directed and aggressively used) along with a continual menacing tone.

Funny because they had just done a press release about their new approach to classifying domestic abuse on screen at the beginning of last week!

Anyway – first thing Monday morning, some poor BBFC examiner went and re-rated it. The original 12 rating was deleted and replace d with 15 for strong language, sex references.Here’s the thread from twitter where the BBFC confesses to how their classifying system works without a BBFC examiner.

The BBFC started the conversation rolling with an ill-judged self promotional tweet implicitly boasting about the importance of its ratings:

BBFC @BBFC · As the weekend approaches, @NetflixUK have released lots of binge-worthy content. What will you be tuning in to watch? Whatever you choose, check the age rating on our website: http:// bbfc.co.uk

  • Straight Outta Compton 36.1%

  • Love Is Blind 8.2%

  • Locke & Key 9.8%

  • A Quiet Place 45.9%

Well Scott took them at their word and checked out their ratings for Lost Girls. He wasn’t impressed:

You need to go back to actually classifying Netflix material formally, rather than getting an algorithm to do it. This is rated R Stateside for language throughout, which in your terms means frequent strong language, so definitely not a 12!:

The BBFC responded, perhaps before  realising the extent of the failing

Hi Scott, thanks for flagging, we are looking into this. Just to explain, a person at Netflix watches the content from start to end, and tags the content as they view. Everyone who is tagging content receives appropriate training so they know what to look out for.

Scott noted that the BBFC explanation rather makes for a self proving mistruth as there was obviously at least a step in the process that didn’t have a human in the driving seat, He tweeted:

Yeah, the BBFC and the OFLC in Aus now use an automated programme for Netflix content – nobody actually sits and watches it. I get that there’s lots of material to go through, but this obviously isn’t the best idea. Age ratings you trust is the BBFC’s tagline – the irony.

Neil adds:

This film needs reviewing with your new guidance about domestic abuse & triggers in mind. Over 20 uses of f***, some very aggressive and directed. Descriptions of violent domestic abuse (titanium plates, etc) and dead sex workers, sustained threatening tone. Certainly not a 12.

At this point it looks as if the BBFC hasn’t quite grasped that their system has clearly spewed bollox and tried to justify that the system as infallible even when it is clearly badly wrong:

These tags are then processed by an algorithm that sets out the same high standards as our classification guidelines. Then, this automatically produces a BBFC age rating for the UK, which is consistent with other BBFC rated content.

Scott adds

Ah, I stand corrected – didn’t realise there was a middle man who watches the content. Nevertheless, there’s still nobody at the BBFC watching it, which I think is an oversight – this film in particular is a perfect example.

Next thing spotted was the erroneous 12 rating deleted and replaced by a human crafted 15 rating.

And one has to revisit he BBFC statement: processed by an algorithm that sets out the same high standards as our classification guidelines. Perhaps we should read the BBFC statement at face value and conclude that the BBFC’s high standards are the same standard as the bollox 12 rating awarded to Lost Girls.

Death Ship age rating increased from 15 to a rather excessive 18.

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Death Ship DVD Death Ship is a 1980 UK / Canada / USA horror mystery adventure by Alvin Rakoff.
Starring George Kennedy, Richard Crenna and Nick Mancuso. BBFC link IMDb

Survivors of a tragic shipping collision are rescued by a mysterious black ship which appears out of the fog. Little do they realize that the ship is actually a Nazi torture ship which has sailed the seas for years, luring unsuspecting sailors aboard and killing them off one by one.

The 1980 cinema release was X rated followed by 18 rated VHS in 1987. But the film was reduced to 15 for 2007 DVD with the consumer advice:

Contains infrequent strong nudity, moderate bloody violence and horror

The film has just been resubmitted for video release late in the year but the age rating has been raised back up to 18 for:

strong nudity, bloody images

There are variant versions of the film but I don’t the differences are relevant to the age rating. The age defining scene seems to be where a naked and busty woman is showering only, for the water to turn to blood, (not her blood). The woman gets stuck in the shower by a jammed door and she is eventually killed off screen by the ghostly ship’s captain.The 15 rating surely fits the bill, and the 2007 consumer advice seems accurate. So why has it been bumped up to 18, and why has the BBFC changed the consumer advice so as to no longer mention the ‘moderate’ violence? It seems that the consumer advice has been phrased to justify the over exaggerated age rating rather than to provide informative advice to viewers.

It seems that the BBFC is virtue signalling its concerns about social issues that may generate a bit of an outrage storm on Twitter. I rather predict that we may be in for a bit of surge in silly 18 ratings.

The trouble with using PC terminology is that the primary message conveyed is that the speaker is virtue signalling PC credentials. Then the intended message is of secondary interest and needs scaling down to counter the inherent PC exaggeration

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BBFC logo The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is changing the way it highlights domestic abuse in ratings info for films and episodic content, after working with Women’s Aid and Respect on new research.

The research – which focused on both female and male survivors of domestic abuse, experts and the general public – showed that the BBFC is getting it right when it comes to classification decisions in both films and episodic content featuring domestic abuse. The regulator already takes domestic abuse portrayals seriously, and the respondents agreed that the BBFC rightly classifies these issues at a higher category.

The research showed that less is more, and going into too much detail in the ratings info is a minefield as people’s sensitivities and triggers are complex – this is already taken into account in the classification decision. It was highlighted that the widely understood catch-all term of domestic abuse was much better placed to describe such scenes, as it is considered broad enough to include psychological and economic abuse, gaslighting and non sexual abuse of children.

Therefore, the BBFC will now use domestic abuse instead of domestic violence in the ratings info it issues to accompany its ratings. The BBFC will also stop using the term themes of, which the research showed people felt trivialised the issue.

The research flagged that survivors can be triggered by scenes of domestic abuse, especially if it is unexpected. This can be traumatising, and can lead to people avoiding certain types of content. Responding to these findings, the BBFC will now flag domestic abuse in every case, even if the scenes are not category defining.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said:

This timely and important research is shining a light on people’s attitudes towards domestic abuse, and it’s important that our classifications reflect what people think. It’s very encouraging to see that we’re getting our classification decisions right when it comes to domestic abuse, which already can be category defining. But what it has shown, is that we should bring our ratings info more in line with what people expect and understand, which is exactly what we’re going to be doing. These changes will give people the information they need to choose content well. Most particularly in this case, the ratings info will highlight the issues to those that have been personally affected by domestic abuse, so they are forewarned of content which could trigger distress.

While there were few factors that would reduce the impact of watching a scene of domestic abuse, a series of aggravating factors among survivors were flagged, including: the sound of a key turning in a lock; the silence before an attack; the sound of a slap or a punch; and seeing fear in someone’s face or eyes.

Adina Claire, Acting co-Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

This research has given an important insight into what survivors, experts and the general public think about depictions of domestic abuse in films and episodic content. We’re pleased that the BBFC have responded to the report, and have reflected the attitudes in their classification policies – meaning that anyone affected by domestic abuse will now have the clear and consistent information they need about what triggers content may contain.

The research also found that the term child abuse was widely associated with sexual abuse, rather than domestic abuse, and having a child present in a scene depicting domestic abuse often meant that the scene was more triggering for audiences. Therefore, the BBFC will limit the use of child abuse to scenes where child sexual abuse is depicted only, with non sexual child abuse also described as domestic abuse.

People agreed it’s very important to educate audiences about the issue and to encourage awareness and discussion. As such, the research strongly underpins the BBFC’s policy of being less restrictive on public information campaigns than on commercial trailers and ads, rating them at the lowest reasonable classification.

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Poster Birds of Prey and the Fantabulo 2020 Cathy Yan Birds of Prey is a 2020 USA action crime adventure by Cathy Yan.
Starring Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ewan McGregor. BBFC link IMDb The upcoming cinema release was passed 15 uncut for strong violence, injury detail, language, sexual threat.

The BBFC noted that this was the first film rated using new technology at the BBFC, explaining:

The first film to be classified using the BBFC’s brand new, world leading classification platform has officially received its age rating certificate.

Birds of Prey is the first cinema release to be submitted and classified using the BBFC’s new client portal and tagging platform. The BBFC has been classifying content since 1912, and this is the biggest technology transformation the organisation has seen.

The transformation project, known as Project Horizon is cloud based, and has been developed by a group of cutting edge technology partners including Amazon Web Services, Vidispine, Guidesmiths, NMR Consultancy Ltd and 100 Shapes.

Dave Barrett, Deputy CEO of the BBFC, said:

This is a radical shift in the way that we work with our clients to classify content. Along with our consultants, Remodus, who worked with us on the development of the platform, we have been working in close partnership with the film and home entertainment industries and our technology partners to design and build a flexible system that makes our classification process even more efficient and much easier for everyone involved.

Everything submitted to the BBFC will still be seen by our highly trained team of compliance officers, it’s simply the tools that we use as a business which are changing. This is a move towards greater transparency between regulator and client – and we’re looking forward to migrating all our clients to the new system by summer 2020

The key differences between the old system and the new platform include; a flexible and intuitive client portal for all submissions; a content tagging and data enrichment platform where classification is carried out; and reduces risk.

The new client portal offers all clients choice over dates and price structure, and greater control over their account management.

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letter price rises 88 Films has tweeted an image of a BBFC letter detailing a price rise of 1.4% on 1st January 2020.The BBFC provides examples of the cost of classifying an average length cinema film (104m) will now be £1074 + VAT.

The BBFC provide a rather meaningless average home video submission off 77m (half way between a TV episode and a feature film, but neither representative of one or the other). The price for that will be £752 + VAT. Which probably means closed to a grand for a 90m film.

Now of course one may say that such commercial information is not really relevant to film censorship, but it is. The higher the cost of censorship the less likely it is that small market film will get a commercial release at all.

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symbols october 2019 300 Don’t call us boring: ‘Generation Conscious’ want to make better decisions than ever before

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is launching new age rating symbols which, for the first time, are designed for digital streaming platforms – a move which will give young people better and consistent guidance about film and TV content, enabling them to make conscious decisions about what they watch.

New research from the BBFC reveals, given their access to more media, nine in 10 (87%) 12-19 year olds want to make better decisions than ever before. Two thirds (66%) of young people resent the idea of being perceived as ‘boring’ or ‘sensible’ – something three quarters (74%) of adults admit to having thought.

Instead, almost all teens (97%) want more credit for being conscious decision makers, making informed and positive choices throughout all aspects of their life. The BBFC’s own research showed 95% of teenagers want consistent age ratings that they recognise from the cinema and DVD to apply to content accessed through streaming services.

A majority (56%) of teens are concerned about watching content without knowing what it contains – and say they want clear age ratings to guide them. A third of teens (32%) say they see content they’d rather avoid on a weekly basis, leaving them feeling uncomfortable or anxious (46%), and one in twenty (5%) saying it had a negative impact on their mental health.

The BBFC’s new digital classification symbols, launching on Thursday 31 October, will help young people to make conscious decisions when it comes to film and content on video on demand platforms. Netflix has welcomed the new symbols, and will begin rolling them out on the platform starting from Thursday 31 October. This builds on the ongoing partnership between the BBFC and Netflix, which will see the streaming service classify content using BBFC guidelines, with the aim that 100% of content on the platform will carry a BBFC age rating.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said: “It’s inspiring to see young people determined to make conscious and thoughtful decisions. We want all young people to be empowered and confident in their film and TV choices. As the landscape of viewing content changes, so do we. We’re proud to be launching digital symbols for a digital audience, to help them choose content well.”

The move empowers young people to confidently engage with TV and film content in the right way. Half (50%) of young people say having access to online content and the internet helps them have tough conversations or navigate tricky subjects, like mental health and sexuality, when talking to parents.

Jack, 12, from Peterborough said: “It’s difficult to choose what to watch online as there is so much choice out there. I like to think about things before I watch them. Sometimes my friends watch stuff I don’t think is appropriate or I might find scary or it just isn’t for me. I could definitely make better decisions and avoid uncomfortable situations if age ratings were more clearly signposted.”

The BBFC is calling for streaming services to clearly label content with age ratings – and has this month launched its first set of VOD User Guidelines , developed in conjunction with video on demand platforms. These user guidelines outline how streaming services can help people by offering clearer, more consistent and comprehensive use of trusted, well understood, BBFC age ratings to support ‘Generation Conscious’.

The BBFC commissioned Studio AKA to produce a short animation , showcasing the new age rating symbols, to help families help view what’s right for them. The film is currently being played nationwide in cinemas until Sunday 3 November.