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6th April

Film Censorship in Nova Scotia...

MFCB, Maritime Film Classification Board
Link Here

If you wanted to know anything about the people who classify films for audiences in Nova Scotia, you're plum outta luck. We're allowed to know the names of the 17 appointees to the Maritime Film Classification Board, but not much else about them.

This secretiveness falls in line with the US classification board, the Motion Picture Association of America, which withholds its members' identities altogether.

How candidates are selected for the job is also vague. There are no formal qualifications required to distinguish between brutal violence and extreme violence, or explicit sexual content and just regular ol' sexual content. The province says they aim to pick people from around the region and the only official job requirement is open-mindedness.

This region's classifiers were once remarkably restrictive, outright banning the 1978 rape revenge film I Spit On Your Grave for 20 years, and John Water's 1972 film Pink Flamingos , an embargo that lasted until 1997. That same year, the MFCB banned Angelica Houston's critically acclaimed directorial debut, Bastard Out of Carolina . The film about a child's experience with sexual abuse was deemed disturbing by the board. They reasoned that the rape scenes went beyond acceptable community standards. The decision sparked an outcry and they eventually conceded, allowing a video release.

When people complain about films not coming here, this is one of the reasons, says Ron Foley MacDonald, a film curator: In fact, it's one of the biggest reasons, because distributors simply will not deal with the hassle and the money.

It costs $3.64 per minute to have a theatrical release or adult film classified in the Maritimes, rounding out to about $500 for the average film. Having received a theatre certificate there is a reduced charge of $36.53 for the same film on DVD.

DVDs are generally rated by one person and theatrical releases are reviewed by a group.

MFCB Classifications:

  • General (G) : Suitable for viewers of all ages.
  • Parental Guidance (PG) : Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.
  • 14 Accompaniment (14A) : Suitable for viewing by persons 14 years of age and older. Persons under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain: violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
  • 18 Accompaniment (18A) : Suitable for viewing by persons 18 years of age and older. Persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Persons under 14 years of age are strictly prohibited from viewing the film. May contain: explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.
  • Restricted (R) : Admittance restricted to persons 18 years of age and over. Content not suitable for minors. Contains frequent use of sexual activity, brutal/graphic violence, intense horror and/or other disturbing content.
  • Adult (A) : Film is not suitable for viewers under 18 years of age because the sole or primary premise for the film is the depiction of explicit sexual activity, graphic nudity, or graphic violence.

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