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Society Defers Passion Of Christ Review

Society Defers To Hoyts Distribution (Nz) Re "The Passion Of Christ" Review

The NZ distributor of the film "The Passion of the Christ", Hoyts Distribution, has contacted the Society this afternoon informing it that it will be seeking a review of the R16 classification decision issued by the Office of Film and Literature Classification on 20 February 2004 with respect to this controversial film.

The distributor does not have to seek the leave of the Secretary of Internal Affairs to have the decision reviewed by the Film and Literature Board of Review. It has an automatic right under s. 47(2)(d) of the Films, Videos and

Publications Classification Act on payment of an application fee of $1,500 to the Secretary of the Board of Review Ms Elizabeth Trotman, Marketing Manager of Hoyts Distribution (NZ) has informed the Society's secretary that its application fee will be paid tomorrow 3 March 2003. (Ms Trotman indicated that media can contact her direct if they have any enquiries on this matter Tel. 09-306-7525).

On Monday 1 March 2004, the Society was granted leave under s. 47 of the Act by the Secretary of Internal Affairs, Mr Christopher Blake, to apply to the Board of Review to review the R16 Classification of the film "The Passion of the Christ". The Society made its application to the Secretary under s. 47(2)(e) of the the Act on 20 February 2004, the same day the Office of Film and Literature Classification registered its classification decision on the film. The society does not have an automatic right to an appeal under the Act like the distributor.

Ms Trotman has indicated that Icon Productions based in Australia and owned by Mel Gibson the film's director and worldwide distributor of the film, is supporting the application for review by the NZ distributor.

In the light of these events the Society executive has decided to defer to Hoyts distribution and allow it to take the lead in seeking for a reclassification of the film that aims at allowing at least 15 year olds to view the film when accompanied by their parents or guardians, an option open to these young people applying the Australian and USA classification decisions.

The Society along with Vision NZ Network (a grouping of about 350 evangelical churches) and the Catholic Communication Office will be some of the groups supporting the application by Hoyts to have the film classification reviewed to allow at least year 11 students (15 year olds) to view it in the circumstances outlined above.

The Society has posted a copy of the telephone conversation transcripts involving the Chief Censor Bill Hastings and those he consulted with respect to the classification of the film, on its website:

The interviewees were:

Pastor Andrew Riordan, Baptist Pastor, Newlands Baptist Church, Wellington

Mr David Zwartz, Jewish, NZ Jewish Council

Rev. Harry Phillips, Presbyterian Minister, St Matthews Parish Church, Brooklyn, Wellington

Mr Matthew Mawkes, Catholic, Administrator, Wesley Church, Taranaki St, Wellington.

Rabbi Antony Lipman, Jewish, - Rabbi, Wellington Hebrew Congregation.

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