Irish Film Censors at IFCO

IFCO: the Irish film censor board


23rd July
2008
  

Update: Reclassified as Censors...

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Irish Film Censor's office renamed as Classifiers

Irish video rental stores and other outlets face fines for supplying children with DVDs classified for older viewers.

Legislation makes it an offence for the first time to breach film classification certificates in over-the- counter rentals and sales and offenders can be fined up to €2,000 or even jailed for three years.

It means younger DVD library members may be asked to provide proof of their age if they try to rent a film with an age specific rating such as 12A, 15A, 16 or 18 and could be refused certain films even if they have parental permission to view it at home.

The laws also make changes to the Film Censor's Office which is now called the Irish Film Classification Office and no longer has powers to ban a film outright [A bit hard to believe! Somebody should try resubmitting Manhunt 2 to test this out].

Censor John Kelleher, who becomes director of film classification, welcomed the move, which he said reflected the profound changes in Ireland's recent past. We have moved far away from the nanny state moral guardian censorship of yesteryear towards an acceptance of the general principle that, in a mature society, adults should be free, subject to the law, to make their own choices.

Today, we don't censor, we classify. We don't decline to explain or justify our decisions. Rather, we welcome the fact that we can provide the public, and parents, with age-related classification and consumer advice. We have gone from stop sign to signpost.


The censor still has a role in protecting under-18s, however, and his powers in that area have been strengthened with specific reference in the law to his duty to apply restrictive classifications where a film is likely to cause harm to children.

Much of the existing law, the 85-year-old Censorship of Film Act of 1923, survives and the censor still has to take into consideration scenes that render a film indecent, obscene or blasphemous or would tend to inculcate principles contrary to public morality.

As part of the changes, a scale of fees is being introduced to ease the cost of applying for classification for independent film makers, foreign movie distributors and art house films that get a very limited cinema release. Instead of paying €12 per minute of film for every copy distributed to a cinema, they will pay €3.

 

25th February
2009
  

Update: Appeal Watch...

Ireland rates Watchmen as 16 after an appeal

Irish cinemagoers aged 16 and over may see the violent new US action film Watchmen following a decision by the Film Appeals Board.

John Kelleher, director of the Irish Film Classification Office (Ifco), had given the film an 18 certificate – in tandem with a similar classification in the UK.

However, a more lenient rating has since been granted following an appeal by the film's distributor, Paramount Pictures. The film goes on release in Ireland, Britain and the US on March 6th.

Kelleher's office advises viewers on its website  that Watchmen contains strong, visceral hyper-realistic violence, including one brutal sexual assault.

We are delighted that Watchmen has been classified as 16, said Niamh McCaul, general manager of Paramount's Irish office. It increases our potential audience and more importantly will give access to fans that are 16 and over.

BBFC explain their uncut 18 rating for the film

From bbfc.co.uk

Watchmen is the latest film from director Zack Snyder and the team behind 300. Based on a famous graphic novel from the 1980s it tells the story of an alternate America in which the Vietnam War was won, Nixon was elected for a third term and costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of society. It was passed ‘18' for strong bloody violence.

The BBFC Guidelines at ‘15' state that ‘violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury'. In Watchmen however there are a number of scenes that focus on strong detailed violence and its gory result. In one such example, a man is stabbed through the arm, with it forcefully twisted and broken as the knife is shown penetrating his arm and emerging from the other side. In another, a man is shown being struck in the head with a meat cleaver followed by repeated bloody sight of the cleaver striking the head. Both of these scenes, in addition to one or two others, were considered inappropriate at ‘15' and better placed at the adult ‘18' where detail of strong violence is permitted.

Watchmen also contains an attempted rape scene, strong language and sexual activity without strong detail.

 

17th July
2009
  

Update: Mega Censor...

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Irish film censor may be merged into telecoms, broadcasting and film censor

The Irish Department of Finance has published recommendations for around €5.3bn worth of public spending cuts; €37m across Arts and Culture, which includes the transfer of the Irish Film Board's functions to a new enterprise agency and discontinuation of the investment fund.

The report proposes a Mega Censor:

  • The merger of ComReg with the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (the result of merging the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the regulatory functions of the RTÉ Authority) because of the growing convergence between the communications and broadcasting industries.
     
  • Transferring the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) into the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI)

 

 

Kiss of box office death...

Irish distributors unsuccessfully appeal against an 18 rating for the cinema release of Kissing Candace


Link Here 13th June 2018
Kissing Candice is a 2017 Ireland / UK drama by Aoife McArdle.
Starring Ann Skelly, Ryan Lincoln and Conall Keating. IMDb

17 year old Candice longs to escape her seaside town and finds solace in her imagination. When her disillusionment calcifies into an obsession with a troubled stranger, she becomes entangled with a dangerous local gang.

THE Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) has upheld an 18 rating for an Irish film by a debut director Aoife McArdle despite the film being given a 15 rating in the UK.

Kissing Candice is a youth oriented film about a young girl in a border town who first dreams of and then meets a young boy who's connected to a gang that is terrorising her town.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been shown at other youth-orientated festivals.

Wildcard Distribution is the Irish distributor for the film and its managing director Patrick O'Neill has said that the company was surprised when it was given an 18 cert:

We just thought the rating was a little harsh for the film, we just thought something along the lines of a 15A or a 16 would have been more in keeping with the content of the film.

IFCO's 18 rating has the consumer advice:  contains scenes of strong drugs abuse, strong violence and language and strong sex references.

The UK's BBFC was less severe in its rating of the film, giving it an uncut 15 rating for  very strong language, strong threat, drug misuse.

Kissing Candice is released in Irish cinemas on 22 June

 

 

Offsite Article: What we object to at the cinema has changed. Movie ratings should too...


Link Here23rd June 2018
Should we worry less about film censor warnings about sex or violence and worry more about racial stereotyping? By Donald Clarke speaking about the Irish film censor, IFCO See article from irishtimes.com

 

 

Updated: Few complaints...

Irish Film Classification Office publishes its annual report covering 2018


Link Here9th June 2019
IFCO has published its annual report covering 2018.

It notes that teh number of cinema films passed is about the same as the previous year with 448 releases in 2018. However it reports that video DVD submissions (presumably including Blu-ray) has declined by 15% to 2621 submission in 2018.

IFCO reports on 2 appeals in 2018, both appeals were rejected and the rating remained unaltered. The two films were the 18 rated The First Purge , and the 12A rated Bumblebee.

The number of complaints received by IFCO has always been minimal. IFCO writes:

During 2018, IFCO received 18 complaints from the public which related specifically to classifications awarded. The most received in respect of any one title was 6 in the case of SHOW DOGS, a comedy classified PG for Mild violence, language and rude humour. Of these, two were from people who had not seen the film.

IFCO has also just upgraded its website to make it a bit smarter. IFCO acknowledged that it needs to up its game in interacting with the public. IFCO wrote in the report:

It is to be hoped that the updated website will be more visited and perhaps encourage people to contact IFCO. All constructive input, whether positive or negative is very welcome and informs as to people's expectations of IFCO service

See the updated website at ifco.ie .

Update: Censor slump

9th June 2019. See article from thetimes.co.uk

The Irish Film Classification Office (Ifco) is suffering a rapid decline in revenue as a result of the collapse of DVD sales. The state censor has experienced a 23% drop in income over two years.

In its recently published 2018 report Ifco said the slump in DVDs being submitted for classification meant its financial situation would have to be closely monitored.

 

 

A queer decision...

An IFCO 12A rating for Downton Abbey was downrated to PG on appeal


Link Here29th September 2019
Downton Abbey is a 2019 UK period drama by Michael Engler.
Starring Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith and Tuppence Middleton. BBFC link IMDb

Adapted from the hit TV series Downton Abbey that tells the story of the Crawley family, a wealthy owner of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century.

The Downton Abbey movie may seem family-friendly, but gay references have caused a stir for the Irish film censor. The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) revealed that the film was initially given a 12A rating due to several offensive references to the sexuality of a gay butler, Thomas Barrow. A subplot in which Barrow visits a gay club in York sees the bar raided by police who are verbally abusive towards the gay men, describing them as 'perverts' and 'queers'.

In fact filmmakers had consulted a historical adviser who said that Barrow's experiences are an accurate depiction of gay life in interwar Britain. The plot was also praised by LGBT+ activists.

So the movie's distributor Universal were no doubt confident in appealing IFCO's decision, seeking a PG rating. The appeal was duly won and the film has now been re-rated to PG  for brief homophobic reference.

The appeals board felt an audience familiar with its characters and setting would have been aware of the storyline about a gay character, so they changed the rating to a PG.

Ger Connolly, the director of IFCO, told The Times that the 12A classification had been a margin call. He said:

My decision came down to the use of words like 'pervert' in the context of a character's sexuality. For me, that moved it into the 12A rating.

Connolly was clearly a lone voice in deciding on a 12A rating and received no support in the UK where the film was always rated PG uncut by the BBFC for mild threat, language.

 

 

Cross border issues...

Netflix is reusing its age ratings, produced using a scheme agreed with the BBFC, in Ireland


Link Here4th December 2019
It seems that Netfllix has been stealing a march on the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) by using a joint BBFC/Netflix rating system for Netflix users in Ireland.

Back in March 2019 the BBFC agreed on rating system with Netflix such that Netflix would determine age rating for the programmes and films using the BBFC guidelines. The BBFC has just a quality control role to ensure that Netflix is following the guidelines.

It is reported that these age ratings are now being reused for Netflix users in Ireland. And Newstalk has beein inquiring if the IFCO is happy with this arrangement.

The IFCO responded saying it has no legal remit on non physical product in Ireland. However Ger Connolly, the director of film classification, said:

I do intend to engage with Apple TV and other providers to examine if there is a mechanism to cooperate for the benefit of Republic of Ireland residents.

 



 

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