When Classification Becomes Censorship: An Analysis of the Neutralisation and Resistance of Film Censorship in Contemporary Australia

Derek Dalton, Catherine Schubert

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    On 20 July 2010, the Office of Film and Literature Classification forbade the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) from screening L.A. Zombie, despite MIFF having scheduled its Australian debut. This recent censorship controversy signals an occasion to pause and consider how films that are prohibited in Australia from exhibition in cinemas or film festivals, or from DVD distribution, do not consistently vanish from sight merely by being effectively banned, as this can fuel interest and inaugurate other viewing opportunities. This article argues, however, that film censorship in contemporary Australia is both neutralised and resisted. Accordingly, it will examine five techniques used to avoid outrage caused by film censorship. It will also examine how these techniques can essentially be inverted by outraged individuals to make the censorship ʻbackfireʼ by causing it to fail. This will be done with reference to the classification journeys of three controversial films: Baise-Moi, Ken Park and 9 Songs. The article will also discuss what ensuing events reveal about the limits of cinematic exhibition in contemporary Australia. In concluding, the article will consider some of the strange anomalies now embedded in Australiaʼs film classification (censorship) landscape, given the recent reclassification of a film with a lengthy classification history – Pasoliniʼs Salò.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-66
    Number of pages36
    JournalGriffith Law Review
    Volume20
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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