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Short Film Banned

Media Release Dated: 9 November, 2007

Short Film Banned

Short film ‘The Game’ may be banned from playing in New Zealand by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The Australian short film was scheduled to play in the Show Me Shorts Film Festival in Auckland on Saturday the 10th of November and again on Wednesday the 14th, before also traveling to Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington.

Festival Director Gina Dellabarca is shocked that this film has been “refused” by the Film and Video Labeling Body (FVLB). She says, “The incident in the film that has caused the problem is not even actually seen on screen, the characters simply refer to the act of urination in a sexual sense. The person who requests the act is heavily mocked and the film is funny and light.”

“This is a top quality film that the public are missing out on the chance to see. The film has previously screened in Australia, the UK, Germany and Canada with no problems. ‘The Game’ was a National Competition finalist at the Canberra Short Film Festival, and another film (‘Saturday Night Newton Sunday Morning Enmore’ which also screens in Show Me Shorts) by the same director, Christopher Johnson won that category.”

The Show Me Shorts Film Festival Trust have sent ‘The Game’ to the Chief Censor requesting urgent viewing in hope of securing a rating so it can be shown in the other locations.

Director Christopher Johnson, who is currently attending a film festival in Germany, has been made aware of the problem. He was, “surprised” by the refusal because, “although the film addresses a form of sexual deviance, it’s done in a comedic vein, because it’s a comedy.”

Dellabarca cannot help but speculate about the banning of ‘Hostel 2’ recently, and wonders whether this film has frightened the censorship bodies into refusing every film that even refers to gaining sexual pleasure from something deemed inappropriate. “You have to consider the context though, and this film treats the subject in a humorous and derisive way. It certainly doesn’t encourage the practice!”

Meanwhile, the announcement of the possible banning of ‘The Game’ has deflected some of the attention that should rightfully belong to the winners of this year’s short film awards. The winners were announced on the 7th of November and those are:
BEST FILM
Winner - ‘A Very Nice Honeymoon’ by Jeff & Phill Simmonds (NZ)
Runner-up - ‘Embers’ by Chris Payne & Marc Laureano (NZ)

BEST STUDENT FILM
Winner - ‘Embers’ by Chris Payne & Marc Laureano (NZ)
Runners-up - ‘Paper City Architects’ by Daniel Agdag (Oz) & ‘The Shomer’ by Anton Blajer (Oz)

ATLAB BEST TECHNICAL CONTRIBUTION
Winner - Richard Harling for Cinematography on ‘Embers’ (NZ)
Runner-up - David Paul for Cinematography on ‘Shadow Over the Sun’ (NZ)

PANAVISION SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Winner - John Harding for Art Direction on ‘The King Boys’ (NZ)
Runner-up Grant Major for Art Direction on ‘Dead Letters’ (NZ)

Jeff & Phill Simmonds who wrote, directed and produced ‘A Very Nice Honeymoon’ have recently completed another animated short film called ‘Noise Control’, which is currently being considered by Sundance. ‘A Very Nice Honeymoon’ is an animated documentary about the true story of their grandparents Mariano and Elizabeth Vella, who were on the steamer SS Wairarapa when it was wrecked on the coast of Great Barrier Island in NZ in 1893.

‘Embers’ was Chris Payne’s thesis film in Creative Producing in the University of Auckland's Master of Creative and Performing Arts program in Film and Television Production. He has production experience on over 40 short films, features, music videos and commercials. The film was written and directed by Marc Laureano, who also holds a Master of Creative and Performing Arts from Auckland University. Laureano says, “The idea for ‘Embers’ came into being when I noticed subtle episodes of racial prejudice against Japanese by some New Zealanders. Research revealed that those New Zealanders who held such opinions would often trace the origins of their prejudice to the experience of returning service men in the Second World War. This was the starting point for my story.”

The Show Me Shorts Film Festival is New Zealand’s national short film festival. The event is currently screening at Academy Cinemas in Auckland, and moves south following this, to play from 16-18 November at Metro Cinema Dunedin, 23-25 November at the Regent on Worcester in Christchurch and 30 November to 1 December at the Paramount Theatre in Wellington.

For more details about this festival and its films check out: www.showmeshorts.co.nz.

ENDS

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