Lawmakers from the Canadian province of Ontario are debating a bill to put an end to provincial film censorship.
Presumably the move is intended to save money as the bill is titled: Bill 229, Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget
Measures), 2020. This includes Schedule 12: Film Content Information Act, 2020.
In fact local film censorship has already being largely wound down, The Ontario Film Review Board ceased operation as of October 1, 2019, with
responsibility for film classification being transferred from the Ontario Film Authority. This body largely adopted provincial film classifications from the British Columbia Film Classification Office.
Now is seems that formal state age ratings
will be no longer required, assuming that content information is provided by the distributor. The role of film censors will then be restricted to investigating complaints. Adult films will still require ratings in Ontario but it seems these will be
provided by a national film censorship scheme.
Parliamentary information about the bill reads:
Schedule 12 Film Content Information Act, 2020
The Schedule enacts the Film Content Information
Act, 2020 and repeals the Film Classification Act, 2005.
The new Film Content Information Act, 2020 regulates the exhibition of films, selling or renting physical copies of video games and selling, renting or otherwise making
available physical copies of adult sex films.
Part I of the Act sets out the application and interpretation provisions.
Part II of the Act provides for the appointment of a Director and Deputy Directors for
the purposes of the Act.
Part III of the Act provides that films cannot be exhibited for a person's direct gain unless information respecting the film and its contents is displayed to the public. This requirement does not apply in
certain circumstances, such as exhibition of a film under the sponsorship of a public library or public art gallery.
Adult sex films cannot be exhibited, and physical copies cannot be sold, rented or otherwise made available,
unless the film has been reviewed and approved by an entity that is authorized to approve adult sex films under the laws of a province of Canada. In addition, they cannot be exhibited to persons under the age of 18. Physical copies cannot be sold, rented
or otherwise made available to persons under the age of 18.
The sale or rental of physical copies of video games is restricted based on the rating assigned to the video game by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Physical
copies of unrated video games may not be rented or sold to persons under the age of 18.
Part IV of the Act provides a procedure for the appointment of investigators and the investigation of offences under the Act. Things that are
seized by the investigator may be forfeited to the Crown in certain circumstances. A procedure for applying to the Director for the return of the seized thing is set out.
Part V of the Act sets out offences, penalties and
evidentiary provisions for proceedings under the Act.
Part VI of the Act provides regulation-making powers to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. These powers include the ability to modify the age restrictions that apply to the
sale or rental of physical copies of video games.
Part VII sets out transitional provisions. The Ontario Film Review Board is dissolved. Licences that were issued under the Film Classification Act, 2005 are no longer needed under
this new Act and expire.
Part VIII provides for the repeal of the Film Classification Act, 2005 and the revocation of the regulation made under that Act. It also makes several consequential amendments.
If you wanted to know anything about the people who classify films for audiences in Nova Scotia, you're plum outta luck. We're allowed to know the names of the 17 appointees to the Maritime Film Classification Board, but not much else about them.
This secretiveness falls in line with the US classification board, the Motion Picture Association of America, which withholds its members' identities altogether.
How candidates are selected for the job is also vague. There are no formal qualifications required to distinguish between brutal violence and extreme violence, or explicit sexual content and just regular ol' sexual content. The province says they
aim to pick people from around the region and the only official job requirement is open-mindedness.
This region's classifiers were once remarkably restrictive, outright banning the 1978 rape revenge film I Spit On Your Grave for 20 years,
and John Water's 1972 film Pink Flamingos , an embargo that lasted until 1997. That same year, the MFCB banned Angelica Houston's critically acclaimed directorial debut, Bastard Out of Carolina . The film about a child's experience with
sexual abuse was deemed disturbing by the board. They reasoned that the rape scenes went beyond acceptable community standards. The decision sparked an outcry and they eventually conceded, allowing a video release.
complain about films not coming here, this is one of the reasons, says Ron Foley MacDonald, a film curator: In fact, it's one of the biggest reasons, because distributors simply will not deal with the hassle and the money.
$3.64 per minute to have a theatrical release or adult film classified in the Maritimes, rounding out to about $500 for the average film. Having received a theatre certificate there is a reduced charge of $36.53 for the same film on DVD.
generally rated by one person and theatrical releases are reviewed by a group.
General (G) : Suitable for viewers of all ages.
Parental Guidance (PG) : Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.
14 Accompaniment (14A) :
Suitable for viewing by persons 14 years of age and older. Persons under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain: violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
18 Accompaniment (18A) : Suitable for
viewing by persons 18 years of age and older. Persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Persons under 14 years of age are strictly prohibited from viewing the film. May contain: explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or
Restricted (R) : Admittance restricted to persons 18 years of age and over. Content not suitable for minors. Contains frequent use of sexual activity, brutal/graphic violence, intense horror and/or other disturbing
Adult (A) : Film is not suitable for viewers under 18 years of age because the sole or primary premise for the film is the depiction of explicit sexual activity, graphic nudity, or graphic violence.