The classification of cinematic works called into question
by Fabien Lemercier
- The legal annulment of Blue Is the Warmest Colour’s screen certificate has reignited the debate on film classification
Following the Nymphomaniac [+see also:
interview: Louise Vesth
film profile] and Love [+see also:
film profile] debacles, two films that saw the decisions of the classification committee for cinematic works challenged by the courts, with a subsequent increase in their age-restriction levels, it is now the turn of the 2013 Cannes Palme d'Or winner, Blue Is the Warmest Colour [+see also:
interview: Abdellatif Kechiche
film profile], to put up with activism in this regard on the part of the Promouvoir association, considered to be closely affiliated with Catholic fundamentalist circles. Thrown out at an initial hearing in September 2014 following its application for an annulment of the film’s screen certificate (the movie had until now been banned for under-12s, with a warning message), the association continued its judicial harassment and won its case at the Paris Administrative Court of Appeal, which demanded that the Minister of Culture (who appealed against this decision) proceed with the reassessment of the screen certificate application within two months.
The subject of classification, which was tackled last October during a debate at the Dijon Film Meetings, must strike a balance between the freedom of creators and the protection of minors. But this balance is not easy to strike inasmuch as the under-18s restriction can be called for in the case of "non-simulated sex scenes" (which is not necessarily easy to establish) or those "with a very high level of violence" (an equally grey area).
Beyond the moral assessments that can always give rise to discussion (particularly about teenagers, circulation and access to images in the world today, taboos and so on...), the current burning issue for the film industry is above all an economic one, to the extent that the broadcasters and distributors of films need certainty and definitive classification measures to be able to make investments. So, for example, a feature film that is restricted for under-16s is aired on TV after 10.30 pm, and a title restricted for under-18s is only aired on pay television channels between midnight and 5.00 am. As Vincent Maraval (of Wild Bunch) stressed in Dijon, "Without a final decision, we are going to restrict and censor ourselves."
This conviction is shared by the ARP (Civil Society of Authors-Directors-Producers), which yesterday remarked on "the urgency of fundamentally rethinking our system of film classification" and which believes, "We cannot leave this system be when it exposes each and every film to such legal risks, and nor can we be content to see culture and creative freedom subjected to the yoke of moral orientation." This debate should be resolved very soon by a report on the reform of the classification system, which is due to be given to the Minister by Councillor of State Jean-François Mary.
(Translated from French)