Film censorship

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Film censorship is carried out by various countries to differing degrees, sometimes as a result of powerful or relentless lobbying by organizations or individuals. Films that are banned in a particular country change over time.

Rating systems

A motion picture rating system is designated to classify films with regard to suitability for audiences in terms of issues such as sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content. A particular issued rating can be called a certification, classification, certificate.

Film censorship by country


Australia's Australian Classification Board (ACB), formerly known as the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), uses the Commonwealth Classification Act 1995 as a guide for the majority of the censorship within the country; however, each state and territory is free to make additional legislation (see Censorship in Australia). Australia is regarded by many to be the most restrictive on film ratings of all Western democratic countries, considering its history and prolific "refusal of classification" (tantamount to banning in other countries) to certain films.

In practice, films still get a short cinematic run before they are reviewed and prevented from being shown at cinemas or released on DVD. This is not a comprehensive list; many films that have been previously banned are not mentioned here (however, some have since been released uncut on DVD). Also not included are the numerous pornographic films deemed too excessive to release under an X18+ category, which are refused classification by the ACB.


During dictatorship (1964–1988)

During the dictatorship in Brazil, that last from 1964 to 1988, several films were banned under the Federal Law from Brazil 5536 from 1968.[1] During several years a project was being developed to find and publish every document on censorship in films during the dictatorship. The project "Memory of Censorship in Brazilian Cinema" released in 2005 six thousand documents about 175 banned films during the dictatorship. And, finally, in 2007 they released documents for the last 269 films banned at that time.[2]

After democratization (1988–)

"On August 20, 2009, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported that Rede Record bought the broadcasting rights of the documentary from Ellis for less than US$ 20,000."[3][4]

"On February 14, 2011, the newspaper Jornal do Brasil (quoting the network's spokesperson) reported that Rede Record would be broadcasting the documentary in 2011, on a date yet to be specified."[5][6]

  • 1976: Di Cavalcanti:

This film (short) about Di Cavalcanti was banned due a lawsuit open by Di Cavalcanti daughter, Elizabeth, in 1979. The film documented the wake and funeral of the Brazilian painter Di Cavalcanti. Since 1979 it can not be shown, at the request of his daughter Elizabeth through preliminary injunction granted by Justice, confirmed in 1983, for sentimental reasons tied with religious ideas. In 1985, the lawyer Felipe Falcon moved an action to reform the judgment, by proposing the dispossession of the film by the state on cultural grounds, to the detriment of the heirs of Di and Glauber. Yet with no solution in sight, Di Glauber must stay contained in a sealed box. 2004: In spite of everything, João Rocha ( director of Thuth Profane),nephew of the Glauber Rocha, has placed a copy on video on providers outside of Brazil: the internet users can make free downloads of the movie, proving that censor the cinema in digital age is useless.[7][8][9]

A Serbian Film had its release in Brazil liberated on August 5, 2011. The exception is Rio de Janeiro estate, where the film was forbidden due a lawsuit filed by the Democrats political party, who claim that the pedophilia scenes infringe the part of the Brazilian Constitution that protects children (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente). The case was overturned in 2012.[10][11]


At present, only films containing prohibited material (such as child pornography) or under court order (such as libel or copyright infringement) are banned in Canadian provinces.[citation needed]



All films depicting anything deemed contrary to Islamic morals are banned outright in Iran.


Due to the small size of Ireland, films banned by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) were rarely even submitted for release in Ireland, due to the high costs of promotion and distribution for such a small audience. Similarly, BBFC cuts are often left in DVD releases, due to the difficulties in separating the two film supplies.

This changed in 2000; many of these films have since been unbanned and rated anywhere from PG to 18. During the review process it was decided that no more films would be banned for either theatre or video release, but some bans are still in place. Banned films can still be viewed at private members' clubs with 18+ age limits.


All German films were banned from 1956 until 1967.[12]


Despite Japan's strict censorship policy on nudity (see Pornography in Japan), very few films are banned there.[citation needed] Those that are banned are usually put under self-imposed studio bans by the companies that produced them.[citation needed]


South Africa

During the Apartheid regime, films depicting interracial couples were banned and/or censored for content - the James Bond films Live and Let Die and A View To A Kill had love scenes which were censored by the South African government.[citation needed]

South Korea

According to the Internet Movie Database, there are no currently-banned films in South Korea.[13]

In recent years, sexual scenes have been a major issue that pits filmmakers against the Media Rating Board. Pubic hair and male or female genitalia are disallowed on the screen, unless they are digitally blurred. In rare cases extreme violence, obscene language, or certain portrayals of drug use may also be an issue. Korea has a five level rating systems; G, PG-12, PG-15, PG-18 and Restricted.[citation needed]

United Kingdom

The infamous video nasty list was created in 1982 to protect against obscenity. Films on this list were banned and distributors of said films were liable to be prosecuted (some of the films were banned before the list was made). This list banned 74 films at one point in the mid-1980s; the list was eventually trimmed down, and only 39 films were successfully prosecuted. Most of the films (even of the 39 successfully prosecuted) have now been approved by the BBFC, cut or uncut (see Video Recordings Act 1984).

United States

The United States has no federal agency charged with either permitting or restricting the exhibition of motion pictures. Most instances of films being banned are via ordinances or proclamations by city or state governments. Some are instances of films being judicially found to be of an obscene nature and subject to specific laws against such material (i.e., child pornography). Such findings are usually only legally binding in the jurisdiction of the court making such a ruling.

The established film industry in the United States began a form of self-censorship in the late 1920s called the Motion Picture Production Code to forestall any possible formation of a federal censoring agency. In 1968, the Production Code was superseded by the MPAA film rating system.

See also


  1. "Lei nº 5.536, de 21 de Novembro de 1968 - 5536/68 :: Legislação::Lei 5536/1968 (Federal - Brasil) ::". Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. ":. Memória Cine Br .:". Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Documentário vira arma de Record contra Globo - Terra Brasil". Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Record compra direitos de documentário sobre a Rede Globo - Portal IMPRENSA". 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Record exibirá Muito Além do Cidadão Kane | Blog da Cidadania". Retrieved 2013-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Jornal do Brasil (2011-02-14). "Jornal do Brasil - JB Premium - Muito além do cidadão Marinho". Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Glauber sem censura - Paraná-Online - Paranaense como você". 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. [1][dead link]
  9. "CENSORED FILMS IN BRAZIL, 1908-1988 | DIÁRIO CINEMATOGRÁFICO". 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Israel lifts total ban on German films. Canadian Jewish Chronicle Review. 14 April 1967.
  13. "List of banned films in South Korea". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-12-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures by Dawn Sova ISBN 0-8160-4336-1
  • Behind The Mask of Innocence: Sex, Violence, Crime: Films of Social Conscience in the Silent Era by Kevin Brownlow, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992). Contains considerable information about film censorship in pre-1930 America, and discusses banned silent films in great detail.
  • "Better Left Unsaid: Victorian Novels, Hays Code Films, and the Benefits of Censorship" by Nora Gilbert. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0804784207
  • Freedom of the Screen: Legal Challenges to Movie Censorship by Laura Wittern-Keller (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008).

External links