Controversy over Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs
by Fabien Lemercier
02/06/2008 - In reaction to the Film Commission’s recommendation of an 18 certificate for Martyrs (see news) by Pascal Laugier (House of Voices) after an extremely close vote, the Society of Film Directors (SRF) have asked the Culture Ministry to re-examine the decision.
Remarking that "this is the first time a French genre film has been threatened with such a rating", the SRF emphasised that "today, an 18 certificate is tantamount to an outright ban on the film’s exhibition. According to legal practice, the level of violence in Martyrs simply warrants a 16 certificate, as for other films of the same genre".
A Member of the Classification Commission, the SRF have also revealed that they were forbidden to take part in the debates at the session which led to the recommendation of an 18 certificate. They have criticised the censorship imposed on them as film directors were prevented from taking a stand and defending Martyrs (which is set to be released on June 18).
The Union of Film Journalists has adopted the same position as the SRF. They commented: "Far from being a simple restriction on programming, this decision constitutes a real economic censorship, because television networks would only be allowed to broadcast the film after midnight".
Even before its recent premiere at the Cannes film market, Martyrs had been pre-sold by Wild Bunch for the UK, Italy, Scandinavia, Benelux, German-speaking European countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, the former USSR, Romania, Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, China, Hong Kong and the US.
(Translated from French)