Society Seeks Reclassification
3 August 2004
Society Seeks Reclassification of Irreversible Anal Rape Film
The President of the Society Mr Mike Petrus says:
"The Society has made an application to the Secretary of Internal Affairs for leave under Section 47(2)(e) of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”) to have the classification of the film “Irreversible” reviewed by the Film and Literature Board of Review (“the Board”).
The classification decision was registered by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) on 29 July 2004 and its application was received by the Secretary on 30 July 2004, well before the OFLC classification decision is to be first notified to the public on 13 August 2004 in its monthly List of Decisions. In the case of “Irreversible” the statutory review period for an application for review to be received by the Secretary under s. 47(2)(e) of the Act runs from 14 August to 24 September 2004. However, applications for review can be lodged with the Secretary as soon as the decision is registered.
“Last year the Society highlighted the unacceptably high levels of gratuitous sexual violence and graphic violence in this film and provided detailed reasons to the Secretary for why this film’s classification should be reviewed by the Board. He has already acknowledged that a prima facie case has been established by the Society that a review of the classification by the Board is justified.
“The Society did make an application to the Board last year for a review and a review hearing was set for 16 July 2003. The Society applied to the Board president on 25 June 2003 requesting that the date of the hearing be put off until a little later in the year due to commitments it had in two High Court cases over this time period. The president declined the request and the Society was forced to withdraw its application. The withdrawal has been viewed by the Society’s detractors as somehow providing evidence that its case for a reclassification of the film is groundless. Nothing could be further from the truth!
“The sub-distributor of the film had given an assurance in his submission to the president of the Board that there was little chance that the film would ever come back to New Zealand following its two film festival screenings. The Society saw little point in pursuing a review at this point given that the film had completed its run here and it had accepted in good faith the assurance given by the sub-distributor. That assurance has now proved to be empty as the film is scheduled to screen in New Zealand shortly.
Sexual violence depiction causes audience collapse
21 March 2003, 8:20 am
Press Release: Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Chief Censor
Bill Hastings and his censors from the Office of Film and Literature Classification Office have granted so many general R18 classifications to films containing gratuitous sexual violence combined with explicit sex, that one wonders what’s next in store for ‘enlightened’ and ‘mature’ NZ film festival goers, keen to see more degrading, sick and shocking films. Tonight (20th March) in Wellington Hasting’s Office has organised a random selection of the general public to view a shocking French sex-violence film called “Irreversible” which was submitted for classification in January 2003 by the director of the Beck’s Incredible Film Festival, Anthony Timpson, who appears to be planning to screen it at his festival commencing in Auckland on May 29, 2003 and in Wellington on 5 June 2003.
Bill Hastings is seeking input tonight from the public (including 18-year olds) to help him and his expert staff to decide whether the content matter of “Irreversible” “tends to promote or support” sexual violence/sexual coercion and other objectionable and depraved activities listed under section 3 (2) of the Films, Videos and Classification Act 1993. The highly sexualised and graphic 10-minute long rape and sodomy scene in the film is one he needs special help with to interpret in terms of assessing its possible “artistic merit” etc. Rape crisis groups who have had the misfortune of viewing this depraved filth (as consultants to the Classification Office) have not warmed to its “artistic merit”.
Premiered at last years Cannes Film Festival, “Irreversible” proved so shocking that 250 people walked out, some needing medical attention (see references below). One wonders whether medical teams will be on hand at the Office of Film and Film and Literature tonight to assist troubled film-goers.
Following standard procedures the participants will be paid a tax-payer funded honorarium for viewing the hard-core pornography and will be served dainties to salivate the palate, diminish feelings of boredom, and psychologically assist them to cope with the deluge of abuse in the film directed at homosexuals and women. Irreversible, directed by Franco-Argentinian director Gaspar Noe, describes a woman's rape and her boyfriend's bloody quest for revenge. Examining a drug-crazed man's violent pursuit of revenge against a twisted pimp he believes is responsible for raping and disfiguring his girlfriend, the film is undeniably shocking and disturbing.
The script consists almost entirely of expletives directed against homosexuals and women, and a scene in which Italian actress Monica Bellucci is raped lasts a horrifying 10 minutes. Shown anti-chronologically -- the violent conclusion first followed by sequences taking the viewer back through events -- the film delivers a stomach-churning opening punch set in "Rectum," a sado-masochist gay club. Fire wardens had to administer oxygen to 20 people (at the Cannes Festival) who fainted during the film - which includes a 10-minute depiction of sodomy and also contains graphic scenes of rape and murder. (The French sex-violence film Baise-Moi, which Bill Hastings failed to ban or impose cuts to, also has a lengthy explicit violent rape scene complete with penetration shots and depictions of sodomy).
“Irreversible” has received mixed reviews from critics, but those remaining in the audience at the end of the early Saturday morning screening at Cannes gave it a five-minute standing ovation. Italian actress Monica Bellucci, whose character is raped and beaten in the film, said it was good to let people feel a range of emotions. "This is a film that people love or they hate, but it's good to have these kind of extremes," she said. Critics had walked out of Thursday's screening of Irreversible, describing it as "sick" and "gratuitous". Fire brigade spokesman Lieutenant Gerard Courtel said: "In 25 years in my job I've never seen this at the Cannes festival. Th scenes in this film are unbearable, even for us professionals." Even Monica Bellucci admits she cannot watch some of the scenes without looking away. Ms Bellucci insists that her father, who was at the premiere, enjoyed it. "It was hard for him to watch, but he loved it," she said.
The film has also gained praise from critics impressed with its artistry, clever camera work and unrelenting examination of the pure anger that drives revenge. The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Inc. has put Mr Hasting’s Office and the secretary of the Department of Internal Affairs on notice that it will appeal to the Film and Literature Board of Review, any decision by his Office to release this film without major cuts to the objectionable content, as required by the law. Those interested in financially supporting the stand taken by the Society to appeal any decision that grants a release of this film uncut, should make contact through our box number P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville. See: Cannes film sickens audiences (26/5/02 BBC News). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/2008796.stm Cannes VIPs Walk Out of ‘Irreversible’ Violence (24/5/02 Yahoo! Movies) http://movies.yahoo.com/news/va/20020524/102229780700.html