Xtra.com is reporting that Canada Border Services Agency customs officers have seized three gay-themed films en route to Ottawa's three-day Inside Out gay film festival, which ends on Nov. 22.
No explanation was given for the seizure — which,
of course, is exactly what you'd expect to happen in a true democracy. The films are supposed to remain in custody until they're watched in full by some border censor or other.
The three films in question are Adrian Shergold's made-for-TV Clapham Junction
, which follows a group of gay men in Clapham, South London, and which has some nudity; Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight , a Middle East-set lesbian love story starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth; and Ella Lemhagen's PG-rated Patrik
Age. 1.5 , the story of a gay couple who mistakenly end up adopting a teen thug. All three films have already been screened elsewhere in Canada. All three are Here! releases, a US-based distributor of gay-themed movies.
In the past, Canadian
border officials have been accused of harassing gays, and of arbitrarily confiscating gay literature and movies. Despite the country's reputation of being more liberal than its southern neighbor, its border cops, obsessed with obscenity, are known
as anything but — especially when it comes to homosexuality. In 2000, the Vancouver-based bookstore Little Sister's sued the CBSA, taking the matter all the way to Canada's Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the bookstore. Clearly, the ruling hasn't
prevented the agency from going after other gay-oriented venues.
Update: Simple Ignorance
27th November 2009. From xtra.ca
A spokesperson for Canada's border guards says that three gay films were flagged by border officials because of simple unfamiliarity with the titles.
On Nov 20, officials from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) refused to let
three films into the country that were destined for the Inside Out film festival in Ottawa.
When Jason St-Laurent, the director of programming for Inside Out, found out that the films had been stopped at the border, he tried frantically to get
hold of staff at the CBSA. No one was able to help him, he says.
He managed to get a shipment of replacements, he says, although barely under the wire. If St-Laurent hadn't found alternate prints, the festival could have lost up to $12,000.
The second time they sent the films, they arrived without any hassle. That time they were sent it to SAW Gallery in Ottawa, rather than the Inside Out film festival.