pinku films- BBFC tangent

Pete Tombs petetombs
Tue Apr 11 02:23:51 EDT 2000

My understanding of the situation is this:

it is not technically illegal to own, or even to bring into this country,
uncertificated videos. I believe that it is not even illegal to own porn
videos in the UK (yes, I know this must all sound rather pathetic to most of
the rest of you in the civilised world...but bear with me). It is however
illegal to offer them for sale or to attempt to distribute them. Now, how do
you convince an eagle-eyed customs man who discovers your French video
release of DAYDREAM (as happened to me a few years back) that you only
intend to watch and not to DISTRIBUTE this piece of rampant filth throughout
the UK...? Well, the answer of course, is that you can't. You could of
course claim your day in court and try to convince a jury that you have only
an "academic" interest in the material. But there again, you might lose. And
anyway, if you don't you are likely to become a marked man or woman so far
as customs officers are concerned and your future trips to and from this
fair country might become very...interesting.

The point about European free trade is well made. However, I think that an
even more important issue is about to arise. In October, the European
Convention on Human Rights becomes law in the UK. Amongst many other things,
this enshrines in law the right to freedom of artistic expression. In other
words, the government and any body taking its cue from the government -
which the BBFC absolutely does, in spite of all their  noises about
"independence" - will have to justify their actions if they involve
restrictions on creative freedom and access to such material.

Now, I'm no lawyer, but surely there must be a host of cases waiting in the
wings to  challenge the BBFC on these kinds of issue. I know that the Board
are becoming nervous about it. They've recently published some new draft
guidelines and engaged in a "consultative" process whereby they tried to get
all their clients - ie video companies - to agree that their rules and
guidelines were fair. An important point to bear in mind, though, is that
the big companies (Warner, Buena Vista, Fox etc) don't really care about
these issues. Their material is never likely to cause serious difficulties
to the Board and the charges are minimal when compared with the turnover of
these companies. It's only the smaller, marginal labels who are seriously
compromised by the requirements and costs of the BBFC process, and they
generally don't have the funds to fight big legal cases.

However, most people in the business are aware that if porn is ever
legalised in the UK there's a fortune waiting to be made from a nation of
thrill hungry video hounds; so, in all probability it'll be one of the tit
'n ass companies who first take up the challenge. Good luck to 'em!

Whatever happens, we have an interesting few months ahead. Watch this

Pete Tombs (who's about to submit Seijun Suzuki's GATE OF FLESH to the BBFC
with great trepidation)

----- Original Message -----
From: Jasper Sharp < at>
To: <KineJapan at>
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2000 1:04 AM
Subject: RE: pinku films- BBFC tangent

> As a brief diversion into the idiosyncracicies of the retarded British
> censorship system, I have another question. I'm a Brit living in the
> Netherlands at the moment and have noticed that a large number of the
> shops here, in Brussels and also in Paris have sections filled with
> imports. Some films are available on BBFC certificated video imported from
> the UK long before they receive a theatrical release ('Sliding Doors' to
> cite an example from last year).
> Obviously then reverse of this does not happen in the UK, to the extent
> a good proportion of my video collection which I have ammassed since being
> in Europe could technically be impounded by HM Customs should I ever
> to return to live in the the UK. And I'm not talking about the sort of
> videos or DVDs that you might think of buying in Amsterdam. See the letter
> in a recent edition of 'Sight and Sound' in which someone details having
> early Jean Luc Godard video bought from France confiscated due to it
> obviously not having a BBFC sticker. Thus I can look forward to kissing
> goodbye to DVDs of Seijun Suzuki's 'Branded to Kill', Argento's 'Tenebrae'
> (4 seconds longer than the UK version), and Jess Franco's 'Succubus',
> certified for a video or DVD release in the UK. Even my Dutch subtitled
> releases of Mike Leigh's 'Career Girls' and Erick Zonca's 'La Vie Revee
> Anges' are surely at risk.
> What I am leading to is this - Surely one of the fundaments of the
> Union is the concept of free-trade. Making it illegal to import any video
> not certified in Britain surely contravenes this right, especially as UK
> distributors can sell their product abroad without such restrictions.
> Censorship in Britain has become a little more relaxed with the long
> departure of James Ferman last year, but at the same the whole system in
> light of European law is rather dubious.
> Jasper Sharp
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Pete Tombs [mailto:petetombs at]
> Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2000 9:33 AM
> To: KineJapan at
> Subject: Re: pinku films- Bedroom
> What on earth do you mean by 'strictly speaking the BBFC itself doesn't
> anything.'?
> I know only too well, from having submitted many films to them, that the
> BBFC do indeed INSIST on cuts before a certificate is issued. As it is
> illegal to release commercially any video in the UK without a BBFC
> certificate, I would maintain that it is the BBFC and certainly not the
> distributor in these cases who are making the cuts.
> Pete Tombs
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <wlt4 at>
> To: <KineJapan at>
> Sent: Friday, April 07, 2000 8:20 AM
> Subject: RE: pinku films- Bedroom
> > >What would be cut out of this? As restrictive as they are, I can't >see
> the BBFC cutting out anything that Eirin had left in.
> >
> >
> > According to the BBFC, 13 seconds were cut from the film as submitted to
> them.  It's apparently common for the distributors to make cuts *before*
> initial submission so there might be even more missing.  And >
> > LT
> >

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