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Film censorship in the UK and across the world

A bonanza for a researcher! The Guardian website has a collection of reports on film censorship across the world since 2002

I represent the links here (for my own records in case it is taken off)

This Film is Not Yet Rated

Bottom line
1.09.06 As a new documentary lambasts the US movie censors, Xan Brooks meets their UK counterparts, who decide when pornography becomes art.

9 Songs

Censors pass British sex film uncut
19.10.04 Winterbottom’s 9 Songs, which shocked Cannes with its graphic scenes of unsimulated sex, receives an 18 rating with no cuts made

Sex and the cinema
20.05.04 A brief history, by Derek Malcolm

Team America: World Police

In brief: Puppet sex film not so against the grain after all
6.10.04 Plus: 20th Century Fox announces ambitious production plan and slate of stars sign up to create Domino effect

Puppet oral sex goes against grain for US censors
5.10.04 The latest feature film from the creators of South Park is facing the box office kiss of death NC-17 rating because of a scene showing simulated oral sex between marionettes

Farewell Robin Duval

My life of porn and violence
19.09.04 As he steps down as Britain’s head film censor, Robin Duval looks back on a controversial career that gave us more freedom to make our own minds up

Ken Park in Australia

Ken Park falls foul of Aussie censors
10.06.03 Larry Clark’s latest foray into the sex lives of American minors has been cut from the Sydney film festival as Australian censors have refused to issue it a certificate for exhibition.

James Ferman, 1930-2002

Film buff and censor James Ferman dies
27.12.02 The former chief film censor James Ferman died of pneumonia on Christmas eve at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, his wife Monica said. He was 72.
Obituary: Film censor in an age of growing tolerance

Sweet Sixteen classification

A word with the censors
30.09.02 Thanks to the c-word, Ken Loach’s new film is certificate 18. Scriptwriter Paul Laverty says the decision is a disgrace.

New 12A rating

Spider-Man seizes the under-12s
30.08.02 Cinemas are preparing for stampedes this weekend after the 12 rating for films was scrapped, allowing children into blockbusters from which they had previously been banned. By Angelique Chrisafis

More councils break with Spidey rating
14.06.02 Two more authorities defy BBFC’s 12 rating on ‘violent’ superhero film

Norfolk snubs censor’s rating on Spider-Man
12.06.02 Two local councils re-classify superhero blockbuster to allow in under-12s

No butts please, we’re Star Wars
9.05.02 BBFC asks for head-butt to be removed from Episode II to secure a PG rating

New BBFC president

New film censor keeps cool head
2.08.02 A former civil servant, whose favourite escape from the stresses of his day job was visiting the cinema, has been appointed president of the British board of film classification, reports Maev Kennedy

Body and soul
5.08.02 Watching hardcore porn for a living has a lowering, deadening effect on the mind, says former censor Jan Chambers. She wishes the new president luck in his task

A blue chip to keep watch on blue films
2.08.02 Sir Quentin Thomas, the new president of the British Board of Film Classification, is typical of the blue chip type chosen for the post, says Peter Bradshaw

New film regulator is Blair man
1.08.02 There is a new boss at the head of the film classification body, but, wonders Sean Clarke, will he be able to keep it out of reach of government influence

Video nasties

Let there be blood
5.07.02 They were the most notorious films of the 1980s, but some – like The Evil Dead and Last House on the Left – were masterpieces. Andrew Holmes on the video nasties

Straw Dogs cleared for video release
1.07.02 Film notorious for rape scenes finally given video classification after distributor restores deleted scenes

Early Wes Craven horror denied video release
20.06.02 Scenes of rape and murder too extreme for British home audiences says appeals committee

What a carve-up
28.09.01 After a 15-year ban, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is finally getting a UK release. Nick Hasted on the troubled life of a satirical classic


British distributor buys film with horrific rape scene
25.05.02 A French film which depicts a nine minute rape and a man getting his head beaten to a pulp with a fire extinguisher has been bought at Cannes for distribution in Britain.

Australian Baise-Moi row

Crowds flock to film to beat censor’s ban
14.05.02 Almost 50,000 Australians rushed to their local art-house cinemas this weekend to watch the erect penises and heaving buttocks that have made the French film Baise-Moi infamous, before censors had it removed from screens yesterday.

Australian censors revoke Baise-Moi release decision
10.05.02 Australian censors have today decided to ban the controversial French film Baise-Moi, even though the film was initially passed by the same censors and has been showing in the country since April 24.

The French far right

Too close for comfort
23.04.02 FĂ©roce is the film Le Pen wanted no one to see. But is it really an incitement to murder? Simon Cropper reports.

Andreas Whittam Smith resigns

BBFC president steps down
7.03.02 Andreas Whittam Smith resigns as president of the British Board of Film Classification

He put the sense into censorship
9.03.02 Mark Lawson looks back on Andreas Whittam Smith’s time at the helm

Going out with a bang
15.03.02 Did departing BBFC boss Andreas Whittam Smith really preside over the most liberal era for film censorship? Censorship expert Alan Travis reports


Anything goes?
1.03.01 Chief censor Robin Duval tells Andrew Pulver why we still need him.

14.04.02 When former punk and massage-parlour hostess Virginie Despentes wrote Baise-Moi, her story of sisters on a sex-and-murder spree, she was lionised by literary France. But that was before she teamed up with an ex-porn star to make the film version – complete with hardcore sex

The joy of sex
23.11.01 With her last film, Romance, Catherine Breillat became notorious for showing an erect penis in a mainstream movie. She tells Libby Brooks why love-making is the key to humanity

Archive articles

Grandad knows best
3.08.01 Breasts, no; eating poo, yes – what are the censors playing at?

Sexual healing
27.07.01 The ballyhooed sex scenes in Intimacy mark an important milestone in British cinema-going. Xan Brooks muses on the shift in the censors’ approach and the viewing public’s attitude.

Drop the crucified monkey
6.07.01 Sex is in, so is profanity. But whatever you do, don’t be cruel to the animals. Xan Brooks on the latest censor’s report

Censors take a knife to Lara Croft
29.06.01 Blockbuster movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider has been cut because of film censors’ concerns about scenes of violence and the use of knives, it was announced today.

Feathers fly as ‘bird cruelty’ in film is cut
7.06.01 A fresh row over how animals can be used in movies erupted last night when the British board of film classification cut a scene from the Oscar-nominated Before Night Falls.

Hello sex, goodbye dirty mac
3.06.01 The law has not changed, but the British view of porn has. We are no longer shocked and neither is the censor, so sex shops and filmmakers are preparing for a boom time

British film crosses new sex frontier
22.04.01 Viewers’ groups attack 18 rating for screen version of Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy that depicts uncensored oral sex, reports John Arlidge

Film censor to stop playing nanny
18.02.01 The man who decides what’s fit for us to see at the cinema is predicting an end to legally-enforced ratings.

We must keep a close eye on Chris Smith’s big brother
18.12.00 The powers proposed for Ofcom are far too sweeping.

My kind of woman
15.12.00 Emmanuelle was the original soft-core, soft-focus romp – and marked a watershed moment in British censorship. It also gave a young Alex Cox a daring new chat-up line

Straw’s ‘Orwell’ curbs on sex videos
26.10.00 Film industry watchdogs last night warned the home secretary, Jack Straw, that his plans for a fresh clampdown on R18 sexually explicit videos will give the police “Orwellian” powers to enter private homes to check whether parents have hidden such videos from their children.

‘Do you really mean you’re going to allow oral sex?’
15.09.00 In the final extract from his book on obscenity, Alan Travis traces the history of Jack Straw’s war on porn

Controversial Ferman quits as chief film censor
28.03.98 Successor ‘will need flak jacket’ to face immediate challenges

They know what’s good for you
27.03.98 As Lolita is passed for release Steve Busfield and Dan Glaister see how the Daily Mail wages war on Britain’s censors

The double standard bearer of the new regime
29.07.85 The workings of the new British Board of Film Classification

Censorship outside Britain

‘There’s no reason why a porn film can’t also be a good film’
28.08.02 Jon Henley meets the French porn director who is fighting to keep hardcore movies on TV

Once upon a time in the east
12.03.02 Peter Lennon on what Hollywood could learn from film-makers behind the Iron Curtain.

Turkey funds award-winning film… then bans it
5.03.02 The Turkish ministry of culture has banned a film it partly funded, and which had been Turkey’s hope to pick up a

n Oscar for best foreign film.

Watch with big brother
2.02.02 The Soviet bloc produced some of the 20th century’s best – and least shown – films. Stuart Jeffries sees what the censors tried to bury

Virgin’s videos too hot for Beirut
8.01.02 Lebanon’s security forces have confiscated the 1950s comedy classic Some Like It Hot from the Virgin Megastore in Beirut, along with 600 other videos, including The Nutty Professor, and Kubrick’s opera omnia

Thorn in their side
2.11.01 Hollywood is battling to save an Iranian director facing death for ‘misusing art’.

Zoolander faces Malaysian censorship controversy
28.09.01 Ben Stiller’s comedy has run into trouble because it features a plot to kill the Malaysian prime minister


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