Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Australian Freedom of Speech takes a serious blow: Ken Park banned.

For the first time since 1969, a film has been banned from the Sydney Film Festival. It seems Australian�s won�t be seeing Ken Park (co-directed by Larry Clark and Edward Lachman), even though it�s already screened at film festivals in the United States, New Zealand and across Europe. Now, this might not seem that unusual since the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has had a fairly conservative board for the last few years (the controversial French film Baise Moi was banned in 2002). However, film festivals are a different case since they are normally exempt from the everyday rigmarole of classification. Rather, festivals get a special screening license where all screened films are treated as R18+ as long as the names of these films are submitted to the OFLC. However, since a relatively unknown Queensland distributor (Independent Pictures) submitted the film for consideration regarding a video release, and the OFLC decided �this film deals with matters of sex in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should be refused classification�, it is now officially banned in Australia. Even though I�ve not seen the film, I am personally aghast at this censorship and affront to freedom of speech and artistic expression in Australia. As a film lover, and a film festival goer whenever possible, I�m doubly outraged. Film critic extraordinaire (and director of the Sydney Film Festival from 1966 to 1984) David Stratton recently voiced his dismay at the banning. Current festival director Gayle Lake has said that the Sydney Film Festival will appeal to the Attorney-Generals of both NSW and at the federal level. Read the pathetic statement by the OFLC here. If you wish to email the OFLC and voice your dismay at their decision, the OFLC email is oflcswitch@oflc.gov.au. The contact details for both attorney-generals and support campaign for the film to be screened at the Sydney Film Festival are here. Personally, I�m writing a few firmly worded emails right now. I hope you�ll be doing the same.

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