France’s Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay will issue a decree softening the criteria for banning films to those aged under 18 as soon as next month, BFM TV reports.
Until now, a decree dating from 2003 stipulates that films “with non-simulated or very violent sex scenes” must be banned for children under 18 years of age. It means that any film covered by the description must be automatically prohibited to minors.
“To ban children under 18 from watching films is nonsense,” Joel Chapron, UniFrance head of research and distributor relations, and Cannes Film Festival consultant, told RT.
“Society has long surpassed cinema. If people younger than 18 are making love in real life, don’t they have a right to watch a similar movie in the cinema? It’s double-dealing, insincerity, hypocrisy.”
The new decree will put an end to this ‘automaticity,’ the Ministry of Culture says.
“The ban on children below the age of 18 will no longer be automatically applied to works containing non-simulated sex scenes, but [will be] reserved for works involving scenes of sex or violence likely to seriously offend the sensitivity of minors,” the Ministry of the Culture stated, as quoted by BFM TV.
The new decree is thought to have been prompted by a report presented last year by Jean-Francois Mary, chairman of the French film classification commission. According to the report, the criterion of ‘non-simulated’ sex was outdated because “a scene can be quite explicit on the screen, while being simulated during the shooting.”
In 2015, Gaspar Noé’s erotic 3D melodrama ‘Love,’ awash with explicit sexual scenes, provoked a war of words and ratings in France.
The film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, was initially rated 16, meaning that children under that age could not watch it in French cinemas. Worried about the sexual nature of the film, then-Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin asked the ratings board for a second review, recommending a stronger rating.
The minister came under fire from the French Directors Guild (L’ARP) and film distribution and international sales giant Wild Bunch.
“We have nothing to gain from being in the game of conservatism and puritanism,” L’ARP said in a statement, as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter.
The ‘moralization’ of works, the intimate friend of censorship, is a dangerous game. The filmmakers of ARP remain convinced that poetry, sexual as it is, [from] filmmaker Gaspar Noé, will remain a better educational source than that of porn debauchery permanently available on the internet,” it added.
The French ratings board ignored Pellerin’s judgment, and the certificate for the erotic movie remained unchanged