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Taxpayers fund “bad taste” film festival


SPCS Research Report 10 June 2003

Taxpayers fund “bad taste” film festival

A one-person commercial film festival operation, the Beck’s Incredible Film Festival, has received taxpayer subsidies via film fee classification waivers, valued at over $100,000 since 1995 (see appendix I). However, Mr Anthony T. Timpson, director of the festival which was recently described by NZ Herald film reviewer Peter Calder as a “festival of bad taste, B-grade and below” (31/5/03), has claimed that he has only received “BIFF Fee waiver subsidies” valued at “approximately $50,000” (Scoop 10/5/03).

In a press release entitled “Tax-payers subsidise Film Festival Porn Smut” (Scoop 9/5/03) SPCS pointed out that 75% classification fee waivers have been regularly granted to Mr Timpson by the Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, in the full knowledge that he runs a commercial operation and that Timpson’s festival is neither organised by an incorporated society nor a member of the NZ Federation of Film Festivals. 2 Brothers Films is the ‘trading entity’ under which Timpson operates and applies for classification fee waivers for publications intended for screening at his festivals – presumably the source of his income. The full fees for publications he submits on 35 mm film or DVD are currently $1100 and $1,000 for video submissions. Timpson only pays $275 and $250 respectively.

Since 1996 Timpson has been describing his film festival as “a one person operation”, in his numerous applications for fee-waivers. The Chief Censor who has a discretion under section 7 of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act (1993) to grant fee waivers under “special circumstances” is required to consider “The commercial gains (if any) likely to be derived from the use of the publication” (see appendix II). SPCS has found no evidence that Hastings has ever sought a statement from Timpson disclosing the nature of his considerable “commercial gains” from the festival and the Classification Office has (in response to SPCS official information requests) indicated that it knows nothing about the nature of the trading entity “2 Brothers”. It appears that the previous Chief Censor, the late Kathryn Paterson, granted a limited number of fee waivers to Timpson on the clear understanding that he indicated that he did not operate it for personal profit.

Timpson recently cried foul at the prospect of his 2003 festival being “stripped of $50,000 in revenue” should the two smut films “Irreversible” [see refs. 1 & 2] and “Ken Park” be banned [see Sunday Star Times, 6 April ref. 3]. He claimed the same actual loss during last year’s festival when he was forced to withdraw two violent porn/smut films – “Baise-Moi” and “Visitor Q” - prior to the festival opening, as a result of decisions to grant injunctions issued by the High Court and President of the Board of Review. Both were effectively banned for the course of his “bad taste” festival following an application for the orders by SPCS, which had already been granted leave by the Secretary of Internal Affairs, to have the classification decisions reviewed by the Board.

The Government and Administration select committee chaired by Labour MP Ms Dianne Yates which tabled its report to Parliament on the FVPC Act 1993 three months ago, raised 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!]. [Emphasis in capitals added].

SPCS questions the level of funding granted by Chief Censor Hastings to Mr Timpson’s, “one person operation”.

Former President and current committee member of SPCS, 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 (Baise-Moi), extended scenes of necrophilia (Visitor Q), degrading and graphic violence, scenes of auto-erotic asphyxiation, masturbation and oral sex, involving young persons who present as 16 and 17 year olds (Ken Park), 10-minute voyeuristic exploitative depictions of anal rape (Irreversible), explicit scenes of young boys ‘jerking-off’ (masturbating to ejaculation as in “Ken Park”), paedophilia, incest, sexual activity involving human excrement (Visitor Q)and bestiality (The Beast)? 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.”

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.

REFERENCES

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

[Ref. 2] Cannes VIPs Walk Out of ‘Irreversible’ Violence (24 May 2002 Yahoo! Movies) http://movies.yahoo.com/news/va/20020524/102229780700.html

[Ref. 3] Sunday Star Times 6 April, A7; Dominion-Post 7 April.

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

FILM, VIDEO & DVD CLASSIFICATION FEE WAIVERS GRANTED TO 2 BROTHERS FILMS (= MR TIMPSON) BY THE CHIEF CENSOR 1995-2003

Without the 75% waiver the full classification fees 1997-2003 are: 35mm film and DVD ($1100); videos ($1,000). Prior to 1997 full film fees were $600.

TOTAL VALUE OF TAX-PAYER SUBSIDY TO MR TIMPSON = $100,581

Value of waiver ($) per publication to applicant shown below (75% discount).

1995 Fees Waivers

Caged Heat (1974 US) Rated R in Australia $450 Chicken Hawk 58 min film about why paedophiles exist $450 Let Me Die a Woman (1978 US) documentary about transexualism $450 Supervixens (1975 US) rated R in Australia $450 Up (1976) R in Australia $450

Granted by Chief Censor Kathryn Paterson 29/5/95

1996 Fee Waivers

I Drink Your Blood (VHS of 35 mm print) $450 That’s Exploitation –Trailers (16mm/35mm) $450 Story of Riki (VHS of 35mm print) $450 Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (VHS of 16mm print) $450

Application 3/4/96 Granted DCC 11/4/96

1997 Fee Waivers

Woman from Deep River (1980) pre-cut print $825 Mantis in Lace (1968) $825 Cherry, Harry & Raquel (1969) $825 That’s Exploitation 2 $825 Girls for Rent (1974) $825 The Candy Snatchers $825 Hated ((1992) $750 Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens (1979) $825

Application received 21/3/97 Granted 21/3/97 KP

1998 Fee Waivers

The Post Graduate $825 Dracula vs Frankenstein $750

Application received 2/3/98 Granted 11/3/98 KP

Alien Factor $825 Attack of the Horny Gorilla $750 Chinese Torture Chamber Story $750 Decision for Doom $825 Devil Times Five $750 Flesh Feast $825 Giant Spider Invasion $825 Gun Girls $750 House on Haunted Hill $750 Lorna $825 Psyched by the 4D Witch $825 Sugar Cookies $750 The Love Butcher $825 Wizard of Gore $825 That’s Exploitation 3 $825

Application received 2/3/98 Granted 6/3/98 KP

Hills Have Eyes 35 mm (USA 1977) $825

Application received 7/5/98 Granted 20/5/98 KP

1999 Fee Waivers

Abar (US 1973) $825 Amazing love Secret (USA 1971) $825 Big Doll House (USA 1971) $825 Blast of Silence (USA 1961) $825 Bloodfreak (US 1972) $825 Daughters of Darkness aka La Rouge aux levres (Belgium/France) $825 Death Game aka The Seducers (USA 1977) $825 Diary of a Nympho (Spain 1972) $825 Hong Kong Trailer Compilation (aka Asiamania) (HK 1969-1996) $825 Invasion of the Bee Girls (USA 1973) $825 Invasion of the Blood Farmers (USA 1972) $825 Manos, Hands of Fate aka Lodge of Sins )USA 1966) $825 Neuton vs The Death Robots (Mexico 1960) $825 Psychout for Murder (Italy 1969) $825 Revenge of the Zombies aka Black Magic 2 (Hong Kong 1976) $825 Son of That’s Exploitation –various compilation $825 Venus in Furs aka Paroxsysmos (Spain 1969) $825 Village of the Giants (USA 1965) $825

Application dated 10/2/99 Received 11 February 1999 Granted 19/2/99

2000 Fee Waivers

Bad Girls go to Hell VHS $750 Black Shampoo VHS $750 Eternal Evil of Asia VHS $750 Hypnosis VHS $750 Indecent Exposure VHS $750 My Body Hungers VHS $750 Nudes on the Moon VHS $750 Revenge of That’s Exploitation – Trailers 35 mm $825 Richie Venus VHS $750 Secrets of the Shadow World VHS $750 Sinful Dwarf VHS $750 Some Like it Violent VHS $750 Spriggan VHS $750 Strange Things Happen at Night 35mm $825 Tanya’s Island VHS $750 Tarz, Jane, Cheetah & boy VHS $750 US Underground – Collection of Short Films (5 VHS) $750 Vampire Men of the Lost Planet $750 WADD – The John Holmes Story $750

Application received 10/4/00 Granted BH 13/4/00

2001 Fee Waivers

Audition (Japan) VHS $750 Curious Dr Hummp (USA) VHS $750 Divine Trash (USA) doco VHS $750 Girl Next Door (USA) Aus (R) $750 In China They Eat Dogs (Denmark) VHS $750 Legend of the Wolfwoman 35 mm Print $750 Revelations (doco USA) $750 Spike And Mike’s (USA) 35mm Print $825 That’s Eploitation 5(USA) 35mm Print $825 Criminal Lovers (France) VHS $750 Faster Pussycat Kill Kill (UK) VHS $750 Open Your Eyes (Spain) (rated 15 UK) $750 Sex: The Annabel Chong Story (USA) VHS $750

Application received 9/3/01 Granted BH 14/3/01

Undertaker and His Pals (feature) $825

Application received 26/4/01 Granted (for Movie Marathon) 1/5/01

Three features on Video Anatomie $750 Loved One $750 Wonderwall $750

Application received 30/3/01 Granted BH 3/4/01

2002 Fee Waivers

On Video:

Barking Dogs Never Bite $750 Bully $750 Das Experiment $750 The Isle $750 Mau Mau Sex Sex $750 Musa The Warrior $750 Plastercaster $750 Possible Worlds $750 Vampire Hunter $750 Visitor Q $750 Wendigo $750

On Film:

That’s Exploitation 6 $750

Application dated 20/2/02 Application received 21/2/02 Granted 5/3/02 BH

Gonin (Japan 1996) DVD $825 Séance (Japan 2001) VHS $750 Spike & Mike Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation 2002 VHS $750 Happiness of the Katakuris (2002) VHS $750

Application 20/3/02 Received 21/3/02 Granted 22/3/02

Rated X – A Journey Through Porn $750

Application received 9 April 02 Granted 11/4/02

Sex With Strangers (submitted on video) $750

Application received 29/4/02 Granted BH 2/5/02

2003 Fee Waivers Granted

The Backyard $750 Blue Spring $750 Dahmer $750 Dead Or Alive 1 $750 Dead Or Alive 2 $750 Deadly Weapons $750 Dog Soldiers $825 Female Convict Scorpion $825 Irreversible $750 Ken Park $750 My Little Eyes $825 Old Men In New Cars $750 Scarlett Diva $750 Soft For Digging $750 Suicide Club/Suicide Circle $750 Wet Hot American Summer $750 Read My Lips $750 Battle Royale $750 Tattoo $750 Frailty $750

Applications dated 24 April 2003

Final Destination 2 $825 Graveyard of Honor $750 Deadly Weapons $750 Guerreros $750

Applications dated 30 April 2003 (fee waivers granted 1 May 2003)

In My Skin $750 Orphans And Angels $825

Total value of fee waiver granted by the Chief Censor to Anthony T. Timpson 1995-2003

$450 times 9 = $ 4,056 $750 times 77 = $ 57,750 $825 times 47 = $ 38,775

Total value of tax-payer subsidy to Mr Timpson = $100,581

APPENDIX II

REGULATION 7. FILMsS VIDEOS AND PUBLICATION CLASSIFICATION (REGULATIONS) 1994.

7. Waiver of fees in special circumstances.
(1) Notwithstanding anything in these regulations, the Chief Censor may, if he or she considers, in any particular case, that it would be unreasonable or unfair or unduly burdensome to require the payment of the whole of any fee prescribed by these regulations in respect of the submission of a publication to the Classification Office under section 12 or section 15 or section 42 of the Act, or the submission of a film poster to the Classification Office under [regulation 27] of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Regulations 1994, the Chief Censor may waive the payment of such portion of that fee (not exceeding 75 percent of the fee) as the Chief Censor thinks fit.
(2) Without limiting subclause
(1) of this regulation, in determining whether or not to grant any waiver pursuant to that subclause, and in determining the extent of any such waiver, the Chief Censor shall take into account the following matters:
(a) The age of the publication (whether the copy submitted is an original or a subsequent edition):
(b) Any value or importance that the publication has in relation to literary, artistic, social, cultural, educational, scientific, historical, or other matters:
(c) The extent to which the publication is available in New Zealand (whether or not in the same format or edition in which the publication is submitted):
(d) The purpose for which the publication is intended to be used:
(e) The commercial gains (if any) likely to be derived from the use of the publication:
(f) Any other special circumstance relating to the publication, or its intended use, or the reason for its submission to the Classification Office.


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