Culture Matters

Spherex's weekly insights into the globalization of entertainment.

Understanding international cultural trends and narratives is critical to the media and entertainment industry’s ability to adapt, evolve and innovate.


It’s time for Ireland to stop compulsory film classification

The news from Italy this week was unequivocal. “Film censorship has been abolished,” the country’s culture minister Dario Franceschini declared in a statement issued on Monday evening. “The system of controls and interventions that still allow the state to intervene in the freedom of artists has been definitively ended.” In fact, the Italian censorship regime had largely fallen into disuse, and the dramatic announcement merely made that reality official. Film distributors will now self-classify their own titles based on existing age brackets similar to those in Ireland, such as “over 18” or “under 12 if accompanied by an adult”. In time, a commission of film industry figures and education experts will be set up as a review mechanism for those classification decisions. Censorship ain’t what it used to be, including in Ireland. Here, as elsewhere, it’s been replaced by a different C-word. The last Irish film censor, John Kelleher, was instrumental in seeing through legislative reform which in 2008 renamed and redefined his office: he was now a Classifier of films. As a result, the curtain was finally lowered on a long, shameful history of repression, philistinism and bowdlerisation that dated back to the very beginnings of the independent Irish state. [Ireland]


Dr John Tierney writes: Why the disrespect of women is increasing

In 1994, I visited the US to study new information technology, the world wide web. Within a few years, this rapidly spread its optic fibre threads across the Australian community, bringing with it easy access to pornography. The usual regulatory controls did not work in this new medium. It was the dawn of the information age, and by 2000 the Senate Select Committee on Information Technology, which I chaired, had held three inquiries into the rapidly evolving internet. As legislators, we were grappling with the appropriate regulatory response to what seemed to be the online "wild west". One "expert witness" looked down his nose at the senate committee members before him and exclaimed, "No, no, there is no way you will ever be able to censor the internet". Traditional media is regulated by a classification (censorship) system, covering film, television, magazines and newspapers. This was the 1970s and 1980s media and entertainment world in which my children grew up. But for my grandchildren, all born in the new century, the entertainment experience is very different. [Australia]


B.C. teacher banned from teaching younger students after showing age-inappropriate movies

A Prince George teacher has been suspended for one day and temporarily banned from teaching younger students after showing films that were not considered age appropriate. The incidents are laid out in a B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation document posted Tuesday (April 6). The documents state that Andrew Michael Dennis was teaching Grade 6/7 classes when the various incidents occurred. In September 2018, Dennis showed his students The Hobbit, which the documents state “was not curriculum related.” Then, later that month, Dennis showed his students the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, that was neither curriculum related nor age appropriate, as it deals racism, racial slurs and sexual assault. The movie is considered an appropriate resource for students in Grade 10 and up, not Dennis’ Grade 6 and 7. In late September 2019, one of the students’ parents wrote to the principal to express concern about the number of movies the class had watched, especially To Kill a Mockingbird. [British Columbia]


‘No classification, no showing.’ NFA to get tough with content creators from May 1

Effective May 1, 2021, no television station, cinema theatre or movie screening centre shall show any unclassified audiovisual content, the National Film Authority (FA) has said. According to the NFA, it is stated in the Development and Classification Film Act 935 that all audiovisual content should be reviewed and classified before shown on any platform. Thus, right owners and others who wish to broadcast their content must submit it to the Film Classification Committee for examination and classification at least twenty-one days before the selected date for showing, NFA said in a press release. Such audiovisual content includes feature films, short films, TV series, selected TV programs, documentaries, advertisements, music videos which are meant for public exhibition and broadcasting. NFA stated that right owners will be sanctioned if they fail to submit a content for review and classification. [Ghana]


Digital Parenting: KFCB to create program to equip parents and caregivers

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has partnered with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), Google, Eveminet Communication Solutions Limited, CODE-IP Trust and other public and private sector agencies to create a Digital Parenting program that seeks to equip parents and caregivers with skills and knowledge on digital parenting. This is in a bid to champion child online safety as well as to protect children from exposure to inappropriate film and broadcast content. This comes as the media has been criticized by different sectors in the society including the church for broadcasting inappropriate content which is eventually consumed by children exposing them to harm and danger. [Kenya]


StarzPlay ramps up Turkish content ahead of Ramadan

StarzPlay has partnered with distributors to bring more Turkish content for viewers across the Middle East and North Africa. As part of its efforts, the platform has joined forces with MISTCO, an international brand management and content distribution agency, and Calinos, an Istanbul-headquartered Turkish company that distributes Turkish series, movies and television programs across international platforms. With these partnerships, StarzPlay subscribers will have exclusive Turkish series including “Resurrection: Ertugrul to the Innocents,” “Our Story,” and “Filinta.” All the titles will be dubbed in Arabic with English subtitles. “The demand for quality Turkish series dubbed in Arabic hasn’t really changed in our region, especially when it comes to smart and compelling stories. This is why we at StarzPlay have partnered with globally recognized content distributors MISTCO and Calinos to bring some of the best stories for our subscribers,” said Nadim Dada, vice president of content acquisitions, StarzPlay. [Turkey/Middle East/North Africa]


Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci’s Supernova love scenes uncensored in Russia after outcry

The Russian cut of the film nixed a tender three-minute scene showing the couple unsuccessfully trying to have sex as one of the men deals with early-onset dementia. It was reportedly “self-censored” by local distributor World Pictures, which excluded the clip when it applied for a license from Russia’s Ministry of Culture. The film will now be shown in full after an outcry from director Harry Macqueen, several Russian film critics, and the Russian LGBT+ community. [Russia]


Czech foreign ministry bans Orbán-critical directors’ message

Czech directors Ondřej Provazník and Martin Dušek filmed a short video message to be shown before the screening of their movie Old-Timers on Thursday (April 15) at the Czech Film Carnival in Budapest, writes Parameter.sk via Respekt.cz. One of the directors wrote “Ban Orbán” on a board while the other said “our political representatives also need to be aware that maybe someone will come at the end of their lives to hold them accountable for their actions”. After initially suggesting to either screen the video with a warning that this is not the official position of Czechia, followed by a proposal to obscure the “Ban Orbán” message from the clip, it was banned altogether by the Czech foreign affairs ministry, which funds the cultural centre in Hungary that is organising the film festival, the Czech outlet reported. [Czech Republic/Hungary]


Prasoon Joshi Responds To Abolition Of FCAT; Calls It A Part Of Extensive Tribunal Reform

After the Central government, on April 4, scrapped the cinema's statuary body, Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Prasoon Joshi shared his opinion on the matter with a hope to handle cine concerns "amicably" with the Centre. "This is part of extensive tribunal reform. One understands that this a procedural rationalisation of multiple tribunals not just FCAT, which have been either merged or reduced from 26 to 19 based on functional similarity," said Joshi in a statement. The CBFC chairperson further said that apart from increased functional efficiency, the move shall reduce the burden on the public exchequer, especially when the public at large is not a direct litigant in many of these tribunals. "From our industry's specific standpoint, the fact is that over the last few years, the number of films needing to go to an appellate body has seen a steady decline. Over the last two-three years only around 0.2 percent of films were taken to FCAT and I am sure this gap can be further closed," he said. [India]


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