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The Scorsese Controversy


- Gangs of New York's open release in Italy results in protests and a project to reform censorship. What about Europe?

The decision by the Italian board of film censors to allow minors to see Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York has generated a wave of controversy. Yesterday, 23 January, a spokesman for the Italian Ecclesiastical Conference said the Italian Catholic Church found the decision “disconcerting”.
In the US, Scorsese’s epic was given an “R” rating which means it cannot be seen by unnaccompanied minors under the age of 17. Both the UK and Canada applied an “18-or-over” rating.
Gangs of New York” is a work of art and as such we believe it should be released without any limits,” said producer Francesco Pamphili, a member of the Italian censorship commission that operates under the auspices of the Ministry for Culture. “We believe that the violence was not gratuitous,” added Pamphili.
Italy’s Minister for Culture, Giuliano Urbani asked film industry legal expert, Michele Lo Foco to compile a report about reforms to Italian film censorship. “The aim is to try and defend minors without encroaching on the artistic freedom, we are thinking about abolishing the current ratings system for adults, thus allowing adults to see any film produced, " said Lo Foco. "However we intend improving e the system with regards to minors so that our youngest filmgoers are protected adequately.”
It is likely that a series of age limits will be set up for the following categories: "8 years-or-over" and either 12,13 or 14 (the precise age has yet to be decided). There will also be a "Parental Guidance" warning.

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Films are classified according to the following categories: all ages: and respectively 12, 16 and 18-or-over. France also has the “X” certificate that classifies it as pornography and can only be seen in a cinema specialised in that genre. A film can also be banned from being released.

Like Italy, the German system classifies films as “open to all”, and respectively 14-and 18-or over. Furthermore, a film can also be banned.

Films are not banned in Spain but rather indications given. It is possible therefore to recommend that nobody under the ages of 7, 13 or 18 see a film although the minor is free to decide whether or not he or she wants to see the film regardless.

A film can be classified as “U” (universal), or over 15 or 18. Films can also be classified as “12A”, when children of aged 12 or under can only see it if accompanied by an adult, and “PG” or “parental guidance” where the presence of an adult is obligatory. Films can also be banned from being released.

(Translated from Italian)

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