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Tax-Payers Fund Film Festival Porn Smut

Tax-Payers Fund Film Festival Porn Smut

“SPCS has calculated that Mr Timpson has received between $157,000 and $167,700 in taxpayer subsidies for his film festivals since 1995.”

The most offensive scene in the French sex-violence film “Irreversible” that the Commissioner for Children Roger McClay and the SPCS want cut or banned [see ref. 1], is a ten minute, graphic, detailed anal rape of a young women by a homosexual man who is fantasising that he is raping a boy virgin. The rape scene thereby depicts a child rape fantasy. The length of this graphic sequence alone, that caused hundreds of distressed film-goers, including VIPs, to storm out of the screening of the film in disgust at the Cannes Film Festival last year, makes it a gratuitous, exploitative and offensive depiction of sexual violence. Many fainted in the theatre and fire wardens were called in to use oxygen to resuscitate 20 of them. Medics treated some who stumbled out feeling “nauseous” as a result of exposure to the gut-wrenching sexual violence [see refs. 2-3]. The film script consists almost entirely of expletives directed against homosexuals and women. The film delivers an opening stomach-churning punch in a scene from “Rectum,” a sado-masochistic gay club [ref. 3]

The other film SPCS and McClay want banned or cut is “Ken Park”, a sexually exploitative film depicting youngsters, who, according to the Classification Office decision (dated 24 March 2003): “present” as 16 or 17 year olds (i.e. they are intended to, and do, appear to be in this age group). The film depicts scenes of youngsters involved in autoerotic asphyxiation, portraying the outcome as pleasurable (without any reference to the other possible outcomes of physical injury or accidental death). Young men (and some older) are particularly prone to self-inflicted (accidental) death resulting from hanging, in this type of dysfunction and perverse sexual experimentation. (They are sometimes clinically depressed and/or on drugs when they perform such acts. Rock superstar Michael Hutchence, lead singer of the Australian band INXS, reportedly died in 1997 at the age of 37 from this activity, in mysterious circumstances).

Both “Ken Park” and “Irreversible” contravene sections 3(2) and 3(3) of the Films, Videos and Publication Act 1993 in the extent and degree to which they feature such “objectionable” content and their tendency to promote or support “objectionable” activities.

The taxpayer has already paid 75% of Timpson’s fees ($1100 per film) for getting “Irreversible”, and “Ken Park” classified (only the decision on “Ken Park” has been released so far). Taxpayers have also had to pay 75% of the fees for 57 other films and videos submitted to the Film and Video Labelling Body for classification by Mr Anthony Timpson on behalf of 2 Brothers Films, intended for screening at this year’s festival screening. This year he has been granted fee waivers for every title he submitted, a taxpayer-funded subsidy of between $59,000 and $64,900.

Anthony Timpson is the Principal of 2 Brothers Films and director of the Incredible Film Festival, which commences in Auckland on the 29th of May 2003 and in Wellington on the 5th of June. Since 1996 he has been describing his film festival, which is not a member of the Federation of Film Festivals, as “a one person operation”, in his numerous applications for fee-waivers. He is now crying foul at the prospect of his 2003 festival being “stripped of $50,000 in revenue” should the two smut films “Irreversible” and “Ken Park” be banned (see Sunday Star Times, 6 April ref. 1). The figure of $50,000 is the figure he claims he lost at last year’s festival when he was forced to withdraw three smut films – “Baise-Moi”, “Visitor Q” and “Bully” - prior to the festival opening, as a result of decisions made by the President of the Film and Literature Board of Review, Rotorua-based lawyer, Ms Claudia Elliott. She imposed interim restriction orders against the films, effectively banning them from Timpson’s “one person operation”, following an application for the orders by SPCS, which had already been granted leave to have the classification decisions reviewed by the Board. (“Visitor Q” and “Bully” have yet to screen in NZ cinemas since that time).

In a letter to the SPCS dated 28 February 2003, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), in response to an official information request dated 5 February, disclosed the following facts concerning Timpson’s “Incredible” Film Festival:

“The festival first began in 1993, though it has modified its name in this time. The Office [OFLC] first opened in October 1994 and the first classification fee waivers were applied for [by Timpson/2Brothers Films] in 1995. From 1995 to the present year, the Labelling Body has forwarded applications for fee waivers for over 150 titles from 2Brothers. … In every case to date, the value of the subsidy provided has been 75% of the examination fee. The examination fee varies depending on the medium of the publication. For example, the standard fee for a 35mm film is $1,100 and the standard fee for a video is $1000.”

SPCS has calculated that Mr Timpson has received between $157,000 and $167,700 in taxpayer subsidies for his festivals since 1995.

The Government and Administration select committee chaired by Labour MP Ms Dianne Yates, which recently tabled its report to Parliament on the FVPC Act 1993, raises concerns in its report over the fee waivers granted at the discretion of the Chief Censor [Bill Hastings] for film festivals like Timpson’s, describing them as “effectively an annual $100,00 arts subsidy." [see ref. 4].

The generous nature of this taxpayer subsidy is ‘explained’ in comments by Chief Censor Bill Hastings in the OFLC Annual Report 2002, page 19:

"There is also awareness among smaller festival of their classification obligations which the Office helps them to meet by waiving 75 percent of the classification fee, and by grouping shorter films together and treating them as one film for fee purposes.

"This year [2002] the Chief Censor granted 131 fee waivers to single features and grouped films at a cost to the Office of $99,675. This was a significant increase on last year's figures of 96 waivers at a cost of $65,425.

ONCE AGAIN, THE QUESTION ARISES AS TO WHETHER THE CLASSIFICATION OFFICE IS THE MOST APPROPRIATE VEHICLE FOR DELIVERING A $100,00 ARTS SUBSIDY.

Classification fees are based on cost recovery, and festival film classifications do not cover costs. However, 17 films were subsequently commercially re-exhibited after festivals and the Office was able to recoup from distributors the difference between the waived fee and the full fee to a total of $13,125." [The cost to tax-payers is the difference: $99,675 - $13,125 = $88,550] [Emphasis in capitals added].

In the OFLC Annual Report 2001, pages 12-13, Chief Censor Bill Hastings stated:

"The Chief Censor continued to grant classification fee waivers under Fees regulation 7 to film festivals.... The fees are not set by the Classification Office and are based on cost recovery.

THUS ANY REDUCTION IN FEES IS AT THE COST OF THE TAXPAYER, WHICH MEANS THE TAXPAYER SUBSIDISES THE BENEFICIARIES OF FEE WAIVERS [ONE INDIVIDUAL OPERATOR APPEARS TO BE TAKING THE LION'S SHARE!].

The Classification Office also groups short films together and treats them as one film for classification fee purposes, against which a waiver is then granted as well. Fee waivers were granted to 96 single festival features and grouped short films at a cost to the Classification Office of $67,425. As was the case last year, ten of those films were subsequently re-exhibited after the festival and the Classification Office was able to recoup from distributors the difference between the waived fee and the full fee to a total of $8,250." [The cost to tax-payers is the difference: $67,425 - $8,250 = $59,205] [Emphasis in capitals added].

SPCS President Rev. Gordon Dempsey and his executive committee question the level of funding granted at the Chief Censor’s discretion under Regulation 7 of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification (Fees) Regulations 1994 to Mr Timpson’s “one person operation”.

Rev. Dempsey asks:

“Why should tax-payers subsidise the screening of films containing sleazy hard-core pornographic smut, gratuitous depictions of sexual violation and rape, extended scenes of necrophilia, degrading and graphic violence, scenes of auto-erotic asphyxiation, masturbation and oral sex, involving young persons who present as 16 and 17 year olds, 10-minute voyeuristic exploitative depictions of anal rape, explicit scenes of young boys ‘jerking-off’ (masturbating to ejaculation as in “Ken Park”), paedophilia, incest, sexual activity involving human excrement and bestiality? Furthermore, why should it do so for the benefit of a one-person operator for his personal commercial gain?”

The Society he says “is concerned at the extent to which this type of objectionable material, which is supposed to be banned under section 3(2) and 3(3) of the FVPC Act 1993 has infiltrated into mainstream cinema via the film festival route. The contrived media-hype generated by the so-called “Incredible” Film Festival promotion of highly objectionable material, appears to embolden mainstream cinema operators to take the financial risk to screen this smut and sleaze for commercial gain.” (The degrading and offensive film “The Annabel Chong Story” is a good example. First screened at the 2001 Incredibly Strange Film Festival with an R18 classification, it was soon afterwards screened at the Rialto cinema in Wellington and then sold and hired as a DVD).

Rev. Dempsey says:

“Chief Censor, Mr Bill Hastings, is duty-bound under statute to seriously consider and recommend excisions to films containing objectionable material, in order to safeguard and prevent injury to the “public good” in accord with the clear intention of parliament. The Society believes that the tax-payer funding of one person operators like Timpson, who claims to have “rights” to promote and screen films promoting the pleasurable experiences of young persons experimenting with auto-erotic asphyxiation (as we find in “Ken Park”) and bombard audiences with a 10-minute long explicit anal rape scene (“Irreversible), scenes of necrophilia and sexual activity involving excrement (“Visitor Q”), and get tax-payer support for his commercial operation, will not receive tax-payer support for much longer.

“The Incredible Film Festival is not organised by an incorporated society, or monitored by a Trust and does not belong to the Federation of Film Festivals. It is a run by “one person operator” for personal commercial gain and is financially supported by taxpayers.”

References

[Ref. 1] Sunday Star Times 6 April, A7; Dominion-Post 7 April.

[Ref. 2] Cannes Festival sickens audiences (26 May 2002 BBC News). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/2008796.stm

[Ref. 3] Cannes VIPs Walk Out of ‘Irreversible’ Violence (24 May 2002 Yahoo! Movies) http://movies.yahoo.com/news/va/20020524/102229780700.html

[Ref. 4] Inquiry into the Operation of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 and Related Matters” available on-line).

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