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.


Film office to overhaul age bands following independent review

The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) is set to re-evaluate age bands to be more reflective of public expectations, it has said. It has commissioned an independent research project which is looking at age ratings for movies and this is nearly finished. Among the complaints dealt with by the office included people who feel the content or violence in a movie or trailer was not in line with the age rating for the film’s certificate. Overall, there were five complaints in relation to film classifications last year, compared to 10 in 2019, according to new figures supplied under the Freedom of Information Act. [Ireland]


Why are so many classic PG-rated films being changed to 12A?

Anyone who grew up in the 1980s knew the Russian roulette thrill of watching a PG-rated film. In recent years, though, many films of that era including Out of Africa and The Mission, have had their PG certificates revoked and replaced with 12A or 12 on DVD and streaming services. So why the change? According to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), these films were often classified PG at the time because the leap to the next category, 15, was too great. Conversely, some films clearly aimed at gore-happy children ended up as 15s (Gremlins, for instance, which is now a 12A). But on the whole, when introduced in the early 80s, PG covered a multitude of sins, even when censorial scissors were ineffectually deployed: Temple of Doom remains seriously dark, despite the cuts made for PG. [United Kingdom]


Danish Broadcaster Defends Kids Show About Man With Superhuman Penis: ‘It’s as Desexualized as It Can Possibly Get’

Known for pushing the envelope, Danish public broadcaster DR has ruffled feathers with its latest children show “John Dillermand,” a comedy about a man whose giant penis gets him in and out of all sorts of trouble. The show, aimed at children aged 4 to 8, launched earlier this week to controversy among some journalists and academics who find the series inappropriate for young children. [Denmark]


France Leading Charge with E.U. Directive to Get Streamers to Invest in Local Content

Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus will soon be forced to play a more significant role in the financing of European content when the Audiovisual Media Services Directive officially kicks off on Jan. 1. While each of the European Union’s member states is in the process of exploring ways to adapt the directive — which requires streamers to allocate at least 30% of their catalogues to local programming — France is leading the charge, powered by a task force of representatives from the producers and directors guilds, along with the National Film Board (CNC) and the Directorate-General for Media and Culture Industries (DGMIC). A draft of the decree was submitted to the French government around 10 days ago and a final decision is expected in early December. [France]


Why few Nigerians have seen their country’s Oscar submission

“The Milkmaid” won the heart of Nigeria’s independent Oscars selection committee, and is the country’s official submission for the international film category this year. But relatively few people have seen “The Milkmaid” in Nigeria, or even know it exists, thanks to government censorship. [Nigeria]


Banned Moroccan Movie ‘About Some Meaningless Events’ Is Streaming Again

The 1974 banned Moroccan film “About Some Meaningless Events” is streaming again after being discovered in 2016 in the archives of Filmoteca de Catalunya in Barcelona by researcher Lea Morin. “About Some Meaningless Events” is a 76-minutes Docu-fiction film by Moroccan director Mostafa Derkaoui; it was shown only once in Paris in 1975. Morocco’s government banned the film after its first and only screening, saying it was inappropriate for the Moroccan audience. [Morocco]


How the Arab Spring changed cinema

It was ten years ago today that the so-called Arab Spring protests had a watershed moment when Tunisia's autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country, becoming the first of a number of leaders in the region to be deposed. The effect of such earth-shaking events extended to cinema: to state that the Arab Spring has been the most pivotal occurrence in the modern history of Arab film would not be an overstatement. But just as the uprisings' political impact has been mixed in the long-term, so too has their cinematic legacy. [Regional-Middle East]


JA Films Wanted

A number of local film and television industry players are responding favourably ​to the call by the Filmmakers Collaborative of Trinidad and Tobago (FILMCO) for Jamaican content be featured on the recently launched online streaming platform. The streaming service to be known as FILMCO2Go is set for start-up on February 21 with the aim of providing Caribbean content including films and TV shows to the world. [Trinidad & Tobago]


Tandav, Censorship, And A Democracy In Decline

We have a long tradition of banning anything we disagree with, but this trend has only seen a steep increase in the past few years. Movies, TV shows, books, and even comedians are targeted. Death and rape threats abound; diatribe and vitriol-filled social media rants alleging a history of literary and artistic offences committed to hurt the sensibilities of the majority in this country are commonplace. Amazon Prime’s newest web series is the latest entrant to be on the chopping block. [India]


Historical dramas must be historically accurate (down to the hair)

There has been some drama in Chinese television recently. A show, “Leiting Zhanjiang,” or “Warrior of Thunder,” has been pulled from the Hunan TV network and several video-streaming platforms around two weeks after its premiere. This occurred after an editorial in a state-run newspaper objected to several aspects of the series, including the protagonists' fancy hairstyles which remained in place throughout the show, the fact that the hospital nurses wore patent-leather shoes, and the soldiers' commandeering of a villa for their wartime operations. This incident serves to highlight the various unique issues which have to be taken into account when making productions and content in and for mainland China, particularly where they deal with topics which the state may consider to be sensitive. [China]

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