FILM-MAKERS attending the Durban International Film Festival (Diff) gathered on Sunday to consider an industry response to censorship after a second film was deemed unclassified by the Film Publication Board.
This time it was UK director Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love. The film festival is under way in Durban until July 28.
The Film Publication Board originally asked festival organisers to provide copies of seven films it wanted to scrutinise to ascertain whether they could be exempted from classification.
Five were passed. The board deemed Jahmil Qubeka’s Of Good Report to be child pornography and not fit for public viewing, and was unable to watch The Look of Love as it cannot watch movies online.
Festival manager Peter Machen said The Look of Love had not been banned, nor exempted from classification: “I’m not sure what the implication of showing (it) would have been, but I didn’t want to risk the festival.”
South Africa’s most recent submission to the Oscars’ best foreign film category was Little One, Darrel Roodt’s film about the rape and mutilation of a six-year-old child.”It does seem very strange that Jahmil’s film has been treated in this way,” Machen said about a drama that is purported to be about an adult teacher sexually exploiting a teenage girl.
The film-makers were adamant that the issue was about freedom of expression. At the heart of the issue is the definition of child pornography according to theFilm Publication Board’s regulations which include images in which the person is under the age of 18.
Cameroonian film-maker Jean-Pierre Bekolo, whose film Le President has been banned in his home country, questioned what he called the trend of censorship creeping into Pan-African film-making.
While the festival organisers have appealed against the Film Publication Board’s banning of Of Good Report, producer Mike Auret said it was more important to start lobbying for money to change legislation.